Meet Our Top Five Powerhouse Herbs For Immunity [Plus Four Nourishing Winter Tonics]
Date Posted:20 March 2020
Don’t wait until you’re sick to search for immune-enhancing herbs… have them ready to whip out at the first sign of a sore throat or tickly cough!
With winter on the doorstep, we’re showcasing our top five antiviral herbs for your personal arsenal; strong, safe, effective. As well as that, we chat about our four favourite nourishing immune tonics that can be enjoyed everyday for robust, resilient health (one of which might surprise you).
Read on and get winter-ready.
Facing An Acute Immune Challenge? Call On These Five Antiviral Heroes
All good herbalists know that time is of the essence when it comes to stopping a cold or flu in its tracks. These botanical allies are best used at the first sign of symptoms - lavishly, unless contraindicated.
If you think of elderberry simply as a sweet-tasting syrup for children, think again. It’s a remarkable antiviral herb with proven effects against the flu and for improving immune function.
Compounds in elderberries have been shown to inhibit viral replication and reduce the duration of influenza. Interestingly, elderberry was effective not only for stopping viruses infecting cells, but inhibiting viral propagation at later stages too. Truly a before, during and after tonic.
This ancient panacea is back in vogue.
One of its primary compounds, oleuropein, has been shown to have potent antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Like elderberry, it can inhibit viral replication while simultaneously boosting immune function.
Extra appealing in the face of viruses such as COVID-19 are olive leaf’s antibacterial and disinfectant qualities, effective against secondary infections like pneumonia.
Try olive leaf tea, infusion or adding the powder to soups and shakes.
Garlic is a humble hero that everyone should have on hand.
It’s a broad-spectrum antimicrobial, fighting viruses, bacterias - and might even nix those antibiotic-resistant nasties we’re increasingly aware of. Garlic may also help prevent secondary infections like pneumonia.
Studies show that garlic may be effective against everything from HPV to pneumonia, various strains of influenza and the common cold. Importantly, as an everyday nutritional inclusion, it’s considered strengthening and gently stimulating - without triggering immune hyperactivity.
We know you’re familiar with echinacea.
But did you know that rather than being a simple ‘immune stimulant’, it can have a balancing and modulating effect on the immune system too?
Alongside its potent and proven ability to increase white blood cell count, echinacea is thought to stimulate immune cells where needed while dampening excess inflammation. It’s like an immune system adaptogen, regulating rather than sending cytokines wild.
Whether you’re a fan of angustifolia or purpurea, powder or cut, root or tops, you’ll find it in our online apothecary.
Oh, liquorice. It’s a taste you either love or hate. But no one can argue that this sweet, nourishing root is quite the overachiever.
Besides its myriad benefits for gut health, inflammation, immunity and hormones, liquorice root is an antiviral hero. Its most well-research constituent, glycyrrhizin, was shown to be effective against SARS, while revered herbalist and researcher Stephen Buhner counts it as one of his most important antiviral and anti infective herbs.
In addition, liquorice is also a marvellous soothing demulcent for the respiratory system - so if a chesty cough happens to plague you, liquorice to the rescue!
Nourishing Immune Tonics and Adaptogens For Superhuman Strength
Long term use of this nourishing, restorative immune tonic can improve T-cell activity and help prevent infections. As well as that, it has antioxidant, endurance-enhancing and longevity-promoting effects.
Rhodiola is known as ‘the sunshine herb’. Traditionally used in cold, harsh climates to maintain strength and vigour during winter, rhodiola boasts a number of immune-supportive, mood-enhancing and antioxidant effects.
Mushrooms of all kinds are gaining popularity - and scientific validation - as powerful immune tonics. From preventing cancer metastasis to warding off influenza-family viruses, you can’t go wrong with these easy-to-incorporate wholefood helpers.
And The Wellness Hack No-one Is Talking About
Did you know that smiling is antiviral?
Yep. Science says.
Countless studies have demonstrated the connection between happiness, fulfilment, positivity and your ability to fight lurgies.
During the 80s and 90s, researchers unearthed the link between mood and immune function. They discovered that the brain was directly wired to the immune system, and that immune cells had receptors for neurotransmitters (chemical signals from the brain usually associated with mood and behaviour). Effectively, there’s crosstalk. How you think has an impact on immune function and vice versa.
Another amazing study involved people who were classed as ‘stressed’ or ‘lonely’. They undertook regular mindfulness meditation sessions and afterwards showed reduced inflammation plus a shift in white blood cell gene expression towards greater antiviral activity.
In short, your thoughts and feelings profoundly affect immunity.
So, if you’re keen to stay healthy during ‘the season of corona’, stay positive, have herbal helpers on hand and of course, wash those hands!