Rarely appreciated, but always working in the background – our immune systems are wonderfully complex, all-encompassing and absolutely critical when it comes to keeping us safe and well in the face of viruses and bacteria which can harm our health. At this time of year as cold and flu season is upon us, and with our immune systems in sharper focus than ever before, more people are searching for natural ways to support their immune health.
In conjunction with a healthy, balanced diet and adequate hydration, natural and powerful plants, herbs and roots can give our immune system a much-needed boost during winter months or times of stress or sickness.
Below we’ve shared just a handful of the natural ingredients that can help support the body in fighting off illness, including some you’ll find in our scientifically supported Ayurvedic supplement blends.
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant – a mainstay for immune defence and support. It has long been used to prevent and shorten cold and flu viruses as a supportive treatment. Numerous studies have demonstrated that this essential micronutrient contributes to immune defence through supporting proper cellular function and protecting against oxidative stress. Conversely Vitamin C deficiency has been linked extensively with impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infection.
Although traditionally we’d get plentiful Vitamin C from fruits and vegetables in our diet, supplementing can give you peace of mind in knowing that you’re getting the minimum daily dose needed to help you fend off illness.
Astragalus has been used for thousands of years by traditional Chinese herbalists, originally as an energy booster designed to support the flow of ‘chi’, or life energy (similar to prana in Ayurvedic medicine), through the body. Now it is primarily known as an immune-boosting tonic which can also fight fatigue. Some studies have shown Astragalus to have antiviral and antioxidant advantages. Astragalus is particularly protective against upper respiratory infections, boasting anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown compounds in Astragalus can increase the activity of an enzyme known as CD45 phosphatase, which activates white blood cells that specifically support the body’s immune system (also known as Th1 cell activation). A recent study published in July 2019 also confirms the immunoregulatory effects of Astragalus – showing that supplementation with an extract of Astragalus root can cause a significant reduction in hypersensitive reactions to certain irritants.
A traditional remedy hailing from the Northern most regions of the earth, Elderberry has received much positive press recently as an immune-boosting supplement. These deep purple (almost black) berries are bursting with antioxidants and vitamins. Incidentally, Elderberries are incredibly high in Vitamin C – which is just one of the ways they can support immune health. Elderberry is also used as a holistic treatment for flu and colds, as it can also improve sinus pain and alleviate fatigue.
Researchers at the University of Sydney found phytochemicals from elderberry juice not only helped fend off the flu virus from infecting test cells – they went a step further. These intelligent plant compounds were even more effective at inhibiting viral propagation during the later stages of infection when cells had already been infected with flu virus.
Echinacea is a well-known and much studied ingredient which has been extensively studied and employed in holistic medicine for its immune-boosting properties. Research has shown Echinacea extracts can boost the number of white blood cells, an essential element in the barrier against infections. Several studies also showed Echinacea to be effective in fighting the common cold. Further, Alkamides found in Echinacea extracts further boost anti-oxidant activity, aiding in the renewal and protection of healthy cells.
Which immune-boosting supplements are best for me?
As with all herbal supplementation, personalised advice is always best. Take into account your lifestyle, current situation and needs – what are you most looking to support right now? Are the supplements completely natural and clean? Will these supplements interact with any prescription medication? We’re always on hand if you have any questions or need support – it’s also best to consult your doctor before starting any course of vitamins or supplements.
Our Defender blend incorporates a unique composition of powerful ingredients known to support the body in the fight against unwanted infections from bacteria and viruses. Shop our Immune collection now.