Cough, cough! Aahchoo! Uh oh! When you start to feel your im¬mune system break down, you need to replenish the body with immune-stimulating nutrients. Several herbs and vitamins, includ¬ing echinacea, elderberry, green tea and vitamin C, can help sustain your immune system before the effects of stress pull you down.
*Astragalus – Astragalus has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to stimulate the immune system. Its properties can protect the body from infections by stimulating antibody activity, which include B cells, T-cell function and macrophages. Up to 1,500 mg per day can be taken to support immunity.
*Echinacea – Found in the United States and Southern Canada, echi¬nacea is commonly used throughout Europe and North America to prevent and treat infections. Antibodies are stimulated by echinacea, while inflammation is reduced to aid the immune response. Research¬ers have found that echinacea can reduce the common cold by 55% and lessen the duration of upper respiratory infections. Up to 900 mg per day can be taken each day for up to 8 weeks. Long-term use is not recommended.
*Elderberry – Strong antioxidant properties are contained in elderber¬ry to increase inflammatory cytokines that regulate immunity. Rich in flavonoids, elderberry can increase the production of cytokines to stimulate the immune response. It can also decrease flu symptoms, as researchers found subjects taking elderberry had a decrease in flu-like symptoms four days earlier than those taking a placebo. Up to 1,500 mg of elderberry can be taken each day.
*Goldenseal Root – Valued for its immune-enhancing proper¬ties, goldenseal root has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Its antimicrobial activity has been used to fight bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Goldenseal root improves im¬mune function by increasing the activity of immunoglobulin an¬tibodies. Up to 500 mg can be taken each day in divided doses.Grapefruit Seed Extract – Citrus paradisi, or grapefruit seed ex-tract, is derived from the seeds, pulp, and membrane of grapefruit. It has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties that strengthen immunity. Researchers found that GSE inhibited the development of 67 different bacterial strains that were exposed to GSE overnight. Recommended dosage is 100 mg to 300 mg each day.
*Green Tea – Rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocat¬echin gallate (EGCG), green tea is a strong antioxidant and anti-in¬flammatory that stimulates immunity. It can boost T-cell production, macrophage activity, and decrease the proliferation of bacterial anti¬gens. Up to 500 mg per day can support immunity.
*Licorice Root – Licorice contains phenolic compounds that have antimicrobial and antioxidant activity. One of these compounds is beta-glycyrrhetinic acid, which reduces inflammation and allergies to stimulate immune activity. Licorice root can inhibit abnormal cell growth, decrease liver inflammation, and improve macrophage pro¬duction to reduce the amount of stress on the immune system. Up to 600 mg can be taken each day for six weeks. Long-term use is not recommended.
*Olive Leaf – Flavonoids and phenolic compounds, found in olive leaf extract, can stimulate antioxidant and antimicrobial activity. Oleuropein, one of these primary compounds, has been shown to delay bacterial and fungal growth that impairs the immune system. Researchers have found oleuropein inhibits the development of vi¬ral infections, suggesting olive leaf extract can destroy viral agents. Supplementation can be up to 1,500 mg each day in divided doses.