Your kitchen likely contains these 10 immune boosting herbs that will help you build immunity to ward off the common cold, flu, and respiratory illnesses. Here are a few superstars:
1. Garlic - Allium sativum.
Garlic has been used for centuries as both a food ingredient and a medicine. Older test-tube studies note that garlic may have antiviral activity against influenza A and B, HIV, HSV-1, viral pneumonia, and rhinovirus, which causes the common cold. However, current research is lacking (1)
Animal and test-tube studies indicate that garlic enhances immune system response by stimulating protective immune cells, which may safeguard against viral infections (2)
In addition to being antimicrobial, it promotes digestion through stimulating bile in the liver. Both garlic and onions may help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Chopped garlic cloves can be infused in olive oil for a day or two, then strained and used for cooking. This oil is also excellent for helping to combat ear infections, and as a topical rub for coughs and colds. The oil is applied to babies’ feet as a safe way to help fight respiratory infections. You can smell it on their breath a few minutes later. When cooking with garlic, chop it, and let it sit several minutes to stabilize the medicinal properties. One of the best and most versitile immune boosting herbs.
2. Onions – Allium spp.
The aromatics in raw onions can help calm a cough. A quick home remedy is to cut a red onion, place some sugar on it, let it sit overnight and the next day it will produce a syrup that can be eaten as a cough suppressant.
Onions are packed with immune-boosting nutrients like selenium, sulfur compounds, zinc, and vitamin C. In addition, they are one of the best sources of quercetin, a potent flavonoid, and antioxidant that has antiviral properties as well as histamine regulating effects.
3. Oregano – Origanum vulgare
Oregano is a popular herb in the mint family that’s known for its impressive medicinal qualities. Like rosemary, sage, and thyme, oregano is intensely aromatic, warming, and antibacterial. All species of the oregano plant contain a volatile oil high in two chemically related expectorants (carvacrol and thymol). These oils help loosen phlegm and make it easier to cough up. In one test-tube study, both oregano oil and isolated carvacrol reduced the activity of murine norovirus (MNV) within 15 minutes of exposure (3). This is why oregano has been traditionally used to help ease chest congestion, as well as symptoms that come with the cold and flu. Oil of oregano is also commonly used to help beat bacterial infections. Immune boosting herbs.
4. Sage – Salvia officinalis.
Also a member of the mint family, sage is an aromatic herb that has long been used in traditional medicine to treat viral infections (4).
The antiviral properties of sage are mostly attributed to compounds called safficinolide and sage one, which are found in the leaves and stem of the plant (5).
Garden sage is used for decreasing excess secretions in the body including respiratory and sinus mucus. It is cooling, drying, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial. Gargle sage tea for sore throats or add it to soup, infused vinegar, infused honey, and cough elixir. Do not drink sage tea if you are pregnant or nursing because it may dry up breast milk.
5. Rosemary – Rosmarinus officinalis.
Rosemary is one of the most versatile culinary herbs. It’s a wonderful addition to teas, soups, sauces, meats, vegetables,
breads, and even desserts like cookies, cakes, and chocolate. It is antimicrobial, antioxidant, aids in circulation, has a warming quality, and promotes memory retention.
As previously stated, Rosemary is frequently used in cooking but likewise has therapeutic applications due to its numerous plant compounds, including oleanolic acid (6).
Oleanolic acid has displayed antiviral activity against herpes viruses, HIV, influenza, and hepatitis in animal and test-tube studies (7).
Plus, rosemary extract has demonstrated antiviral effects against herpes viruses and hepatitis A, which affects the liver (8).
6. Thyme – Thymus vulgaris
Thyme is a stimulating expectorant which treats coughs, upper respiratory infections, bronchitis and whooping cough. I find that the easiest way to use it is to make tea and might be one of my favorite remedies for coughs.
It is full of volatile oils that excite lung tissue, break up congestion, fight bacteria and viruses, and promote expectoration. You can also add thyme to many recipes. I add it to my cough elixir, fire cider, and cough and cold teas.
7. Peppermint - Mentha × piperita
Peppermint is known to have powerful antiviral qualities and commonly added to teas, extracts, and tinctures meant to naturally treat viral infections.
Its leaves and essential oils contain active components, including menthol and rosmarinic acid, which have antiviral and anti-inflammatory activity (9).
In a test-tube study, peppermint-leaf extract exhibited potent antiviral activity against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and significantly decreased levels of inflammatory compounds (10).
8. Turmeric - Curcuma longa
According to the PLOS ONE (Public Library of Science) journal, curcumin, a compound found in turmeric contains anti-inflammatory properties known for enhancing immunity and physical strength.
Curcumin helps up in boosting up the immunity and helps to fight against viral replication. Reduces Inflammation – Curcumin suppresses various inflammatory molecules which are responsible for the causes of the damage by viruses. It helps to reduce symptoms and provides relief.
9. Ginger - Zingber officinale
Gingers are the best immune boosting herbs around, for good reason. The presence of Gingerol, an active component that makes ginger the best immunity booster. In addition to its immunity-boosting properties, ginger is also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, that works together to keep your body safe from infection. It is warm, thus it would be perfect for the winter season. But don’t consume in excess, as it can affect the digestive system.
Cinnamon is equally a potent immune boosting herbs in Ayurveda, known for its medicinal advantage to our health. It’s filled with antioxidants and inflammatory properties to fight off Winter colds and act as an immune stimulator. It also prevents the blood platelet from clumping, hinders inflammatory substances and controls blood sugar.
Other Healthy Ways to Boost Your Immune System
An overall healthy lifestyle combined with partaking in immune-boosting herbs can go a long way in keeping you healthy and free from illness.
Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better you practice healthy-living strategies such as these:
- Don’t smoke.
- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables and immune-boosting herbs.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
- Try to minimize stress.
- Practice self-care
- Connect with nature