Importance of Immune Function
When most people think of immune function, or the immune system, they think of fighting off illness. It’s true! Our immune system is our body’s natural defense against infection. So, what exactly is the immune system? The main cells, systems, and organs that make up our immune system are white blood cells, antibodies, the lymphatic system, spleen, thymus, and bone marrow, to name a few. As you can see, these are some pretty big name body systems, and we benefit greatly by taking care of them year-round!
Not only is caring for our immune system a great way to improve immune function, but it’s a great way to care for our overall health as well. A happy immune system usually indicates a happy body and mind!
10 Herbs & Plants to Help Support Immune Function
A great way to support immune function is to incorporate immune boosting herbs and plants into your diet. They are each unique in flavor, phytonutrients, and benefits, and are an amazing way to support your body systems, while also increasing your vitamin and mineral consumption.
The strong scent of garlic is an indicator of its powerful virus-fighting properties! Known for its ability to fight off and destroy bacteria, garlic is a key plant to have in your arsenal of immune boosting herbs. When your immune system is gearing up to fight something off, try finely chopping a raw garlic clove and swallowing it in a spoonful of honey. This time honored remedy is best taken with food so it doesn’t overheat your stomach.
Ginseng is an ancient root, revered for its ability to help maintain equilibrium in the immune system and fight off microbes that threaten its balance. Along with its anti-inflammatory properties, ginseng is a time tested go-to for immune support.
The main bioactive component of licorice root, glycyrrhizin, is shown to help support and strengthen the immune system, while also providing anti-inflammatory effects. Licorice root also helps fight off free radicals, and has immunostimulating properties. Licorice makes a great addition to a tea blend, or find a high quality European licorice chew online for a yummy way to add this sweet plant into your daily routine.
Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for hundreds of years, astragalus is a known “defender” herb to help fight off infection and oxidative stress. Also an adaptogen, this herb is especially helpful during times of high stress, both internally and environmentally. Being a root, like many adaptogens, astragalus is most powerful when you cook it, and makes an excellent addition to any broth.
Ginger is an amazing everyday herb for natural immune support. It’s naturally antiviral, antibacterial, and antispasmodic, thanks to the more than 57 trace minerals it provides. Ginger is a delightful spicy treat to add to soup, tea, vegetables, and more. Wonderful to cook with, ginger can also be made into an immune-boosting tea made with citrus, rosemary, cloves, and cinnamon.
As delicious as it is beneficial, cinnamon is a wonderful herb for boosting immunity. The polyphenols and antifungal properties contribute to the power this herb has for fighting off infection and improving immune function. Add it to just about anything for a delightfully subtle sweet and spicy edge.
Elderberry is an incredible plant for helping support your body's natural defense systems. Elderberry is a great addition to your diet particularly when the weather changes, while traveling, or when experiencing high stress. Highly sought after these days, you can find syrups and lozenges and even supplements of elderberry at most natural grocery stores and pharmacies.
Echinacea is a wonderful herb for immune support. Often used to reduce the duration of symptoms, echinacea is also great for helping fight off and prevent infection altogether. This is powered by its ability to help increase white blood cells. Try supplements or tinctures to avoid the funny tongue numbing buzz that can make a cup of echinacea tea a little less enjoyable.
Oregano is a powerful, fragrant herb that enhances a variety of dishes, especially Mediterranean and Italian foods. Oregano's bold fragrance and flavor are indicators of its powerful phytochemistry. Add it to foods to keep the immune system strong on a daily basis, or find a safe supplement form when you need a more potent dose. Many of the immune shots at the grocery store include oregano these days, as well.