immune boosting herbs

10 Powerful Immune Supporting Herbs for Staying Healthy

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When the cold months roll around, and the air takes on that familiar crisp chill, I first turn to my own home apothecary for an extra layer of support during the seasonal onslaught of colds and flu. It’s a comforting feeling to know that nature has generously provided us with a treasure trove of herbs traditionally thought to support the immune system, many of which can be found right in our own kitchens.

In this article, we’ll explore ten potent immune supportingSu herbs that not only add flavor to your dishes, but also have a long history of being used to support overall health. These herbal wonders are your trusted companions during the cold and flu season, helping you stay healthy and vibrant throughout the year. Here are a few superstars: 

immune boosting herbs

10 Immune Supporting herbs

It’s truly fascinating how our kitchens often hold a treasure trove of powerful herbs that can serve as our first line of defense against these seasonal invaders. Below you’ll find ten remarkable immune supporting herbs that not only infuse our culinary creations with flavor but also fortify our bodies against illness, keeping us healthy and resilient. Immune booting her

1. Garlic - Allium sativum.

Fermented garlic honey
Garlic - immune supporting herbs

One culinary treasure that has been celebrated for centuries for its potential to support our defenses is garlic. Beyond its culinary appeal, garlic is one of the best immune supporting herbs, renowned for its remarkable properties that make it an excellent herb to incorporate into your diet and wellness routine during the cold and flu season.

So, why is garlic such a superstar in the realm of natural remedies?

  1. Antiviral and Antibacterial Properties: Garlic is a powerhouse of natural compounds, including allicin, which is known for its potent antimicrobial effects. Research has shown that allicin may help inhibit the growth of viruses and bacteria, potentially reducing the severity and duration of colds and flu.

  2. Immune System Support: Garlic contains various vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, and selenium, which play crucial roles in supporting a healthy immune system. A robust immune system is better equipped to fend off viral invaders.

  3. Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Inflammation is a key response of the immune system to infections. Garlic’s anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce the symptoms associated with respiratory infections, such as a sore throat and congestion.

  4. Expectorant Qualities: Garlic can act as an expectorant, helping to loosen and expel mucus from the respiratory tract. This can be particularly beneficial if you’re dealing with a stubborn cough or chest congestion.

  5. Cardiovascular Health: Beyond its immune-supportive properties, garlic is also associated with cardiovascular benefits, such as promoting healthy blood pressure levels and supporting overall heart health. Taking care of your heart is especially important, particularly when you’re not feeling your best.

Incorporating garlic into your diet is easy and delicious. You can add minced garlic to soups, stews, and stir-fries, or infuse it into your favorite oils for a flavorful kick. For those who prefer a milder taste, garlic supplements are also available.

While garlic can be a valuable addition to your cold and flu season arsenal, it’s essential to remember that it should complement, not replace, other preventive measures like proper hand hygiene and vaccination, when applicable. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet or wellness routine, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications. 

2. Onions – Allium spp.

onion -immune boosting herbs
Onion - immune supporting herbs

One of my favorite immune supporting herbs, the humble onion, a herbaceous powerhouse, can work wonders in alleviating cold and flu symptoms.

The aromatic qualities of raw onions alone can offer respite from an annoying cough. 

But that’s just the beginning of the onion’s health-boosting repertoire. Onions are bursting with immune-enhancing nutrients, making them an essential addition to your winter wellness arsenal. Within their layers, you’ll find selenium, sulfur compounds, zinc, and vitamin C, all of which play crucial roles in bolstering your immune system.

Moreover, onions stand out as one of the richest natural sources of quercetin, a potent flavonoid with multiple benefits. Not only does quercetin possess remarkable antiviral properties, but it also acts as a histamine regulator. This dual action makes it a formidable ally against the viruses that tend to thrive during the colder months, and helps manage allergic reactions that can exacerbate cold and flu symptoms.

So, the next time you’re battling a seasonal sniffle or a nagging cough, don’t underestimate the power of the onion. Embrace its innate ability to soothe, nourish, and fortify your immune system naturally. Your health will thank you for it.

3. Oregano – Origanum vulgare

oregano - immune boosting herbs
Oregano - immune supporting herbs

Oregano, a beloved member of the mint family, isn’t just a culinary delight; it has impressive qualities that make it a valuable addition to the realm of immune-supporting herbs.. Much like its aromatic counterparts, such as rosemary, sage, and thyme, oregano emanates a robust aroma and possesses powerful antibacterial properties.

At the heart of oregano’s medicinal prowess lies its volatile oil, which is exceptionally rich in two closely related expectorants, carvacrol, and thymol. These two compounds are the unsung heroes that help to soothe respiratory discomfort by loosening phlegm and facilitating its expulsion.

But the potency of oregano extends beyond merely aiding in the soothing of chest congestion. In a fascinating test-tube study, both oregano oil and its isolated component, carvacrol, exhibited the remarkable ability to reduce the activity of murine norovirus (MNV) within a mere 15 minutes of exposure. This discovery underscores oregano’s historical use in combating not only chest congestion, but also a wide array of symptoms associated with the common cold and flu.

Moreover, oil of oregano has been a trusted ally in the fight against bacterial infections. Its formidable antibacterial properties have earned it a well-deserved reputation as one of nature’s most potent immune supporting herbs.

So, when it comes to fortifying your immune system and staving off illnesses, don’t overlook the humble oregano. Its aromatic allure and therapeutic benefits make it a valuable addition to your arsenal of immune-boosting herbs, ready to help you stay healthy and resilient year-round.

4. Sage – Salvia officinalis.

sage - immune boosting herbs
Sage - immune supporting herbs

As the cold and flu season approaches, it’s time to enlist the help of sage, one of the most fragrant immune boosting herbs that has long held a place of honor in traditional medicine for its potential benefits in managing viral infections. Belonging to the illustrious mint family, sage not only adds a burst of flavor to your culinary creations but also brings a wealth of wellness properties to the table.

The antiviral potential of sage can be largely attributed to key compounds found in its leaves and stem, primarily safficinolide and sage one. These natural constituents have piqued the interest of herbal enthusiasts and health-conscious individuals alike for their potential in supporting the body’s defenses against various viral invaders.

One of sage’s notable qualities is its ability to help reduce excess secretions in the body, particularly in the respiratory and sinus areas. This makes it a valuable herb for addressing issues like mucus buildup, which often accompanies colds and respiratory infections. Sage’s properties are multidimensional, encompassing cooling, drying, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial attributes.

Here are some ways you can incorporate sage into your wellness routine during the cold and flu season:

  1. Sage Tea Gargle: When a sore throat strikes, consider gargling with sage tea. The soothing warmth and antimicrobial properties of sage can provide relief and support your throat’s well-being.

  2. Culinary Creations: Sage can be added to various dishes, from soups to sauces, imparting both flavor and potential health benefits to your meals. 

  3. Infused Vinegar: Infuse sage into vinegar to create a versatile ingredient for salad dressings or marinades. This infusion can also carry some of sage’s potential benefits.

  4. Infused Honey: Combine sage and honey for a sweet and soothing concoction. This infusion can be a comforting addition to your wellness arsenal.

  5. Cough Elixir: Craft a homemade cough elixir by incorporating sage into your recipe. While not a substitute for medical treatment, such elixirs can provide relief from coughs and tickles. Combine with other immune boosting herbs for even more goodness!

However, it’s essential to exercise caution when considering the use of sage, particularly in the form of sage tea, if you are pregnant or nursing. Sage has a reputation for potentially reducing breast milk production, so it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating sage into your regimen during these periods.

As we navigate the challenges of the cold and flu season, embracing the natural properties of sage can be a flavorful and holistic way to support our well-being. Incorporating sage into your wellness rituals may not only bring comfort but also a touch of ancient wisdom from the world of traditional herbal medicine.

5. Rosemary – Rosmarinus officinalis.

Rosemary - immune supporting herbs

Rosemary stands out as one of the most versatile and aromatic immune supporting herbs that not only elevates your culinary creations but also boasts properties that can potentially aid in maintaining your health. Let’s explore why rosemary deserves a special place in your home apothecary.

1. Antimicrobial Powerhouse: Rosemary is not just a flavor enhancer; it’s also believed to be a natural antimicrobial agent. Its essential oils contain compounds like rosmarinic acid and camphor, which have shown potential in fighting off unwanted invaders. While it won’t replace medical treatments, incorporating rosemary into your meals may offer some extra support during cold and flu season.

2. Rich in Antioxidants: The antioxidants found in rosemary, such as carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid, can help protect your cells from oxidative stress. While this doesn’t directly prevent colds and flu, a strong immune system begins with healthy cells.

3. Circulation Booster: Rosemary has a warming quality that can help improve circulation. Good blood flow is essential for the efficient transport of immune cells throughout your body, allowing your immune system to function at its best.

4. Memory Retention: This herb is not just good for your body; it’s good for your mind too. Rosemary has been linked to memory retention and cognitive function. During cold and flu season, when we need our wits about us, this could be an added bonus.

As previously mentioned, rosemary’s potential therapeutic applications are supported by its rich composition of plant compounds. Among them, oleanolic acid deserves special attention. Oleanolic acid has exhibited antiviral activity in animal and test-tube studies, showing promise against a range of viruses, including herpes viruses, HIV, influenza, and hepatitis. While this research is promising, it’s important to note that these findings are preliminary, and more extensive studies are needed to fully understand the extent of oleanolic acid’s antiviral properties.

Incorporating rosemary into your meals, teas, and even homemade remedies during the winter months can be a flavorful and potentially beneficial addition to your wellness routine. While it’s not a replacement for medical advice and treatment, it’s a delightful way to infuse your winter with both flavor and potential health support. So, why not savor those rosemary-infused dishes and beverages while embracing the season’s coziness and well-being?

6. Thyme – Thymus vulgaris

immune boosting herbs
Thyme - immune supporting herbs

Thyme isn’t just a flavorful addition to your culinary creations; it’s also a potent herbal remedy that can help alleviate coughs. Let’s delve into why thyme is a go-to herb for many herbalists and explore the various ways you can incorporate it into your wellness routine.

Thyme: Nature’s Expectorant

One of thyme’s most remarkable qualities is its role as a stimulating expectorant. This means it has the ability to stimulate the expulsion of mucus from the respiratory tract, making it particularly effective for individuals dealing with stubborn coughs and chest congestion. When you’re battling a cough or a respiratory infection, thyme can be a soothing and supportive ally.

The Magic of Volatile Oils

Thyme is rich in volatile oils, which are the key to its therapeutic properties. These oils are responsible for exciting lung tissue, helping to break up congestion, and aiding in the elimination of mucus. Additionally, thyme’s volatile oils possess potent antibacterial and antiviral properties, making it a valuable tool in your defense against infectious agents. As you sip on thyme tea or add it to your remedies, these oils get to work, fighting off harmful bacteria and viruses that may be causing your illness.

Multiple Ways to Harness Thyme’s Benefits

Incorporating thyme into your wellness routine is easy and versatile. Here are some ways you can make the most of its healing properties and what makes thyme one of the most indispensable immune supporting herbs:

  1. Thyme Tea: Brewing a cup of thyme tea is one of the simplest and most effective ways to enjoy its benefits. The warm, aromatic infusion can help soothe your throat, ease coughing, and promote expectoration. Combine with other immune boosting herbs to create a unique and fortifying tea blend. 

  2. Cough Elixir: Consider creating a homemade cough elixir by combining thyme with other immune supporting herbs and natural sweeteners. This elixir can be a tasty and effective way to combat coughs.

  3. Fire Cider: If you’re familiar with fire cider, you can enhance its potency by adding thyme to the mix. Fire cider is a spicy and tangy herbal tonic known for its immune boosting herbs and properties.

  4. Cough and Cold Teas: Blend thyme with other immune supporting herbs like chamomile, ginger, and echinacea to create a soothing and healing tea specifically designed to alleviate symptoms of coughs and colds.

7. Peppermint - Mentha × piperita

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Mint - immune supporting herbs

The soothing and invigorating qualities of peppermint come to the forefront as a natural remedy. This versatile herb is widely recognized for its potential benefits in supporting your well-being during times of viral threats. While it’s important not to make any medical claims, exploring the properties that make peppermint a popular choice can shed light on its potential role in bolstering your immune system.

Peppermint boasts a rich history of use dating back centuries, celebrated for its refreshing flavor and potential health-enhancing properties. One of the key attributes that make peppermint a star during cold and flu season is its association with antiviral qualities. Although it’s vital to note that further research is needed to fully understand these properties, peppermint has found its way into teas, extracts, and tinctures crafted to naturally support the body’s response to viral infections.

Peppermint derives its potential antiviral and anti-inflammatory activity from its active components, such as menthol and rosmarinic acid (study). These compounds are believed to contribute to peppermint’s reputed health benefits, although the precise mechanisms are still being explored by researchers.

In a notable test-tube study, peppermint-leaf extract exhibited promising antiviral activity against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Additionally, it was found to have the potential to reduce levels of inflammatory compounds. While these findings are encouraging, it’s important to remember that studies conducted in test tubes do not always translate directly to human health. More research is necessary to better understand how peppermint may support the body’s defense against viral infections.

8. Turmeric - Curcuma longa

turmeric honey - immune supporting herbs
Turmeric - immune supporting herbs
Turmeric, the golden spice that has been revered for its remarkable health-enhancing properties. While we can’t make any medical claims, the traditional wisdom surrounding turmeric’s role in supporting overall wellness is certainly intriguing.

The Curcumin Connection

At the heart of turmeric’s potential immune-supporting prowess lies its primary bioactive compound, curcumin. This bright yellow compound has garnered attention in recent years for its range of health benefits. According to research published in the National Library of Medicine, curcumin is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which are believed to contribute to enhanced immunity and physical vitality.

Boosting Immunity Naturally

One of the standout qualities of curcumin is its potential to fortify the immune system. While we can’t make definitive health claims, studies have suggested that curcumin may play a role in supporting the body’s defense mechanisms. It is believed to assist in bolstering immunity, potentially aiding the body in its fight against viral replication.

Tackling Inflammation

Inflammation is often at the heart of various health issues, including those caused by viral infections. Curcumin is thought to be a valuable asset in this regard. It has been studied for its ability to suppress inflammatory molecules that contribute to tissue damage during infections. By potentially reducing inflammation, curcumin may offer relief from symptoms associated with colds and flu, helping individuals feel more comfortable during the winter months.

While the science surrounding turmeric and curcumin is still evolving, many people have incorporated this vibrant spice into their wellness routines during the colder seasons. It’s important to remember that turmeric can be enjoyed in various culinary creations, such as curries, soups, and teas. However, if you’re considering using turmeric supplements, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure it aligns with your individual health needs.

In conclusion, while turmeric is celebrated for its potential immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties, it’s crucial to approach it as part of a holistic approach to health and wellness. Incorporating this flavorful spice into your diet may contribute to your overall vitality during cold and flu season, but it should be complemented with a well-rounded and balanced lifestyle.

9. Ginger - Zingber officinale

ginger - ginger bug
When it comes to fortifying your immune system during the cold and flu season, ginger emerges as a remarkable ally. Its reputation as an immune-supporting herb is well-founded and supported by extensive research, making it a standout choice for those seeking natural ways to stay healthy.

At the heart of ginger’s immune-supporting prowess lies its active component known as gingerol. This potent compound is responsible for many of ginger’s therapeutic properties, making it a standout player in the realm of herbal remedies. While gingerol is a key player in ginger’s immune-boosting abilities, it’s not the only card up its sleeve.

One of ginger’s standout features is its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. These qualities work in harmony to bolster your body’s defenses against potential infections. By incorporating ginger into your wellness routine, you’re essentially equipping your immune system with an extra layer of protection.

Ginger’s innate warmth is another reason it shines during winter. Its natural heat can help warm you from the inside out, which is particularly comforting when the temperatures drop. This warmth not only feels soothing, but can also contribute to an overall sense of well-being during the chilly months.

However, it’s worth noting that while ginger is a potent ally in supporting your health, moderation is key. Consuming excessive amounts of ginger can potentially affect your digestive system, so it’s advisable to enjoy it in reasonable quantities as part of a balanced diet.

Incorporating ginger into your diet or wellness routine during the cold and flu season can be a flavorful and beneficial choice. Whether you prefer it in teas, soups, or as a zesty addition to your meals, ginger’s immune-boosting and health-enhancing properties make it a go-to herb for the winter months.

10. Cinnamon

immune boosting herbs

As the cold and flu season descends upon us, it’s time to turn our attention to the remarkable properties of cinnamon, an herb that has long been celebrated for its potential health benefits. In Ayurveda, the ancient system of natural healing, cinnamon is regarded as a potent immune-boosting herb, cherished for its medicinal advantages.

Cinnamon is more than just a delightful spice; it’s a treasure trove of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, making it an excellent companion in the battle against winter’s unwelcome ailments. While it’s essential to note that cinnamon should not be used as a replacement for medical advice or treatment, its potential wellness-enhancing properties are worth exploring.

1. Immune Support: Cinnamon is celebrated for its potential immune-boosting properties. While it’s not a magical cure, it contains antioxidants that can help support your overall health during cold and flu season. These antioxidants are believed to play a role in defending the body against oxidative stress, which can weaken the immune system.

2. Anti-Inflammatory Benefits: Inflammation can be a factor in various health conditions, and cinnamon is thought to possess anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it a valuable addition to your wellness routine, as it may help to reduce inflammation in the body, promoting overall well-being.

3. Blood Platelet Regulation: Cinnamon is known for its potential to prevent blood platelets from clumping together. While this property should not be viewed as a substitute for medical advice or treatment, it’s an interesting characteristic that has piqued the interest of researchers. Maintaining healthy blood platelets is vital for proper circulation.

4. Blood Sugar Management: Some studies have suggested that immune supporting herbs such as cinnamon may have a role in helping to control blood sugar levels. While more research is needed to fully understand this potential benefit, it’s a compelling aspect of cinnamon’s multifaceted properties.

Incorporating cinnamon into your diet during the cold and flu season can be a flavorful way to support your overall wellness. Whether you sprinkle it on your morning oatmeal, stir it into your tea, or incorporate it into your favorite recipes, cinnamon’s aromatic warmth can be a delightful addition to your winter routine. Remember that while cinnamon may offer potential health benefits, it’s essential to maintain a balanced diet, get regular exercise, and consult with a healthcare professional for personalized wellness guidance.

golden milk
immune boosting herbs used in tea

Other Healthy Ways to Support 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 supporting 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

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The Outdoor Apothecary website is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. The information provided is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, it is the reader’s responsibility to ensure proper plant identification and usage.

Please be aware that some plants are poisonous or can have serious adverse health effects. We are not health professionals, medical doctors, or nutritionists. It is essential to consult with qualified professionals for verification of nutritional information, health benefits, and any potential risks associated with edible and medicinal plants mentioned on this website.

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