November 10, 2021
Our Top 5 natural herbs & leading nutrients to keep your immune system in peak condition!
Winter has settled in, as has the cold and flu season. Respiratory infections typically last between 7 and 10 days, and symptoms include sore throat, cough, runny nose, blocked sinuses and fatigue. Most respiratory infections are caused by viruses, which is why your doctor may refuse to prescribe antibiotics in the early stages of infection. These medications are only effective against bacterial infections and as such are of little use during viral illnesses like the common cold or the flu.
So what else can you do if you feel the beginnings of a cold coming on, or the fever and chills associated with the flu?
Natural medicine has so much to offer for the prevention and treatment of respiratory infections and to assist the body’s own healing mechanisms to ensure a speedy recovery and improved resistance to future infections. Science is now beginning to explain how herbs and nutrients achieve this, by increasing our immune system defence against infection and reducing the ability for viruses to replicate and reproduce within the body.
The ‘king of bitters’, Andrographis is a herb native to India and Sri Lanka and has been used traditionally to treat respiratory infections, to reduce fever and alleviate sore throat. The active constituent in Andrographis is andrographolide, which has been shown to have immune enhancing effects that improve our body’s defence against viruses and also prevent viral replication. This can stop the progression of infection and speed recovery.
Research is developing an understanding of how Andrographis can help in the treatment of the flu, with effective relief of fever and sore throat having been established.
Taking Andrographis at the first sign of infection can help shorten the duration of illness.
Sambucus nigra, or Elder is a traditional European herb used in the treatment of respiratory illness and fever. Its effectiveness and safety mean it is an ideal herb for use in adults and children alike. Elderberry is rich in Vitamin C, anthocyanins, quercetin and other flavonoids.
There have been many studies confirming the antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory actions of Elderberry, as well as the inhibitory effects on the replication of human influenza viruses.
Taking Elderberry extracts at the onset of infection can help to shorten duration of illness and Elderberry is also safe when taken daily as a prevention and immune management strategy. Combine with Echinacea and Olive leaf for an immune boosting formula the whole family can take throughout winter.
Olive is a Mediterranean tree, the leaves of which have been used for millennia for their immune enhancing and anti-inflammatory actions. Oleuropin is the most well known constituent of Olive Leaf and is the main indication of the strength of an Olive Leaf supplement. Check the strength of your Olive Leaf supplement by looking for this constituent on the label.
Olive Leaf is a valuable herb for improving wellness by reducing inflammation and increasing antioxidants. It supports immune system function and is a marvelous antioxidant herb that also improves cardiovascular health, blood pressure and cholesterol. Olive Leaf research is establishing a wide range of antimicrobial actions and antibiotic properties.
Use Olive Leaf to improve general immune wellness, reduce inflammation and increase general well-being. Olive Leaf is an ideal supportive immune herb to enhance wellness during winter.
Mushrooms are relatively new to the health food market, but have been used medicinally in Asian cultures for thousands of years. Shiitake, Reishi and Cordyceps are three varieties of mushroom that are commonly used for immune enhancement, convalescence and recovery from illness, chronic fatigue and strengthening resistance to infection.
Mushrooms are beneficial for improving immunity in people who are susceptible to frequent infections, recurrent infections and debility. Polysaccharides that have been isolated from medicinal mushrooms have exhibited immune-enhancing and gut health improving properties in recent research. These properties prove highly valuable in enhancing resistance to infection, especially in susceptible individuals.
Look for medicinal mushroom supplements with a variety of these mushrooms in good doses, to improve resistance to infection and to help recovery from illness and post viral fatigue symptoms.
Echinacea is a flowering plant native to North America and is traditionally used by indigenous American populations for boosting immunity and treating illness. Echinacea is a well known herb used to treat and prevent respiratory infections by western herbalists, with purpurea and angustifolia being the most widely used and effective species. Good quality Echinacea supplements typically contain a mixture of both species. Echinacea is a broad spectrum immune modulator, increasing white blood cell activity, innate and adaptive immune responses. It is also one of the few herbs that is safe to take during pregnancy, breastfeeding and by children of all ages.
Take Echinacea alone, or in combination with Elderberry and Olive Leaf throughout winter to improve immune system function.
As well as herbal medicine, adequate nutrition is vital to ensure a well functioning immune system this winter. Zinc, Vitamins C and D are all necessary for a strong immune system defense against viral and bacterial pathogens. Zinc and Vitamin D are commonly deficient in Australian populations and deficiencies can result in poor immunity, and poor healing.
If you have any questions about nutrition or herbal medicines to help with your wellness this winter, speak to our Naturopaths and highly trained staff in store today.
Here are our top Herbs of Gold product choices that will help keep your immune system strong this cold and flu season! Click on each product for more info and to view the special savings!
References:Gupta S et al; 2017; Broad spectrum antiviral properties of andrographolide; Arch. Virol.
Panraksa P et al; 2017; Activity of andrographolide against dengue virus; Antiviral Res.
Krawitz C et al; 2011; Inhibitory activity of a standardised elderberry liquid extract against clinically relevant human respiratory pathogens and influenza; BMC Complement. Altern. Med.
Kinoshita E et al; 2012; Anti-influenza virus effect of elderberry juice and its fractions; Biosci. Biotechnol. Biochem.
Zhao G et al; 2009; Antiviral effeicacy against Hepatitis B virus replication of oleuropin isolated from Jasminum officianle L. Var. Grandiflorum; J Ethnopharmacol.
Zoric N et al; 2016; Antifungal activity of oleuropin against Candida albicans The in vitro study;
Zhai Z; 2007; Enhancement of innate and adaptive immune functions by multiple Echinacea species; J Med Food.
Rondanelli M et al; 2018; Self-care for common colds: the pivotal role of Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc and Echinacea in three main immune interactive clusters (physical barriers, innate and adaptive immunity) involved during an episode of common colds – Aadvice on dosages and on the time to take these nutrients/botanicals in order to prevent of treat common colds; Evid. Based Complement. Alternat. Med.