Five Immune Boosters You're Not Taking

Marie Parks

We’ve all been there — sitting in a small, confined space and the person next to us is coughing, sneezing, or blowing their nose. Next thing you know, you’re sick and missing out on school, work, and plans. Is this just a part of the winter season, or can it be avoided?

Now many people would just drink some orange juice or take some extra vitamin C when they got home from the situation above. Some may even throw in some extra zinc, herbal tea, and a few cough drops. But is this the best strategy?

These aren’t bad ideas (besides the excess sugar in the orange juice), but there are other nutrients you may not have heard of that can better enhance your immune system. We’ll explore five of them below.

Pu-erh Tea Fights Inflammation

Pu-erh tea is made from the ripened, fermented leaves of the Camellia sinensis tree or shrub. It has been shown to correct various components of an unbalanced immune system. Pu-erh tea promotes a broader and faster immune response, protects against viral infections and cancers by increasing circulating white blood cells, and also decreases the risk of various life-threatening conditions by reducing inflammation.1

Your body requires inflammation to repair itself, but with age and an unbalanced immune system, inflammation can become chronically elevated, resulting in a higher risk for disease and infection.2 A human study showed a reduction in inflammatory markers IL-6, TNF-α, CRP, and an increase in the anti-inflammatory marker IL-10 after supplementing with Pu-erh tea for three months.3

Cistanche Promotes Immune Response

Cistanche is a desert plant that helps to control inflammatory cytokines due to its content of phenylethanoid glycosides.4,5 Another compound found in Cistanche, called echinacoside, promotes a healthy immune response.

It does this by increasing naïve T cell development and decreasing damaging immune responses by lowering the amount of memory T cells.6 Cistanche may also provide allergy relief by regulating various factors of the allergic response.7,8

Reishi Mushrooms Fight Viral Invaders

Reishi mushrooms provide broad-spectrum immune system support due to the powerful molecules they contain (such as polysaccharides, triterpenoids, sterols, and alkaloids).9

One of the ways Reishi works is by helping immune cells recognize and destroy viral invaders and cancer cells.10,11 Another way Reishi works is by binding directly to viruses so that they can’t attach to and enter healthy cells.12,13 For example, Reishi has been shown to inhibit viruses such as influenza and Epstein-Barr.14,15

Reishi has also been shown to have anti-cancer properties16, especially for lung, breast, prostate17, ovarian18, cervical, and colon cancers.19-23

Tinospora Helps Balance the Immune System

Tinospora is a plant that’s traditionally been used in ayurvedic medicine, which is the traditional system of medicine in India, and has been shown to balance the immune system.24,25

Tinospora has shown the ability to enhance immune defenses, which is especially important for recovering from surgery. A study on individuals undergoing surgery showed a complete avoidance of blood infection in the group that received Tinospora prior to surgery. This resulted in a 92.4% post-operative survival rate compared to only 40% in the group that did not receive Tinospora.26

Tinospora may also provide relief for allergic rhinitis. Subjects exhibited significant relief from runny nose as well as nasal obstruction and itching after only 15 days of supplementation!27

Andrographis Makes Viruses Less Active

Andrographis is a bitter herb containing active phytochemicals like andrograpanin that’ve been shown to help white blood cells recognize and make tumor cells and viruses less active.28 As a result, andrographis has exhibited the ability to improve symptoms of the common cold.29,30

A large study in 2004 used data from almost 900 patients and concluded that Andrographis is safe and effective for alleviating cold symptoms, and may also have a preventative effect.31

The Bottom Line

Don’t wait until you have people coughing and sneezing around you to strengthen your immune system!

Taking any of these ingredients can help keep your immune system functioning so that you’re not relying on last minute “fixes” when it may already be too late.


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