Quick Disclaimer: The article focuses on how supplements increase the effectiveness of the immune system. However, given the pandemic currently raging in certain parts of the world, it needs to be emphasized that there is little to no evidence as to the efficacy of supplements in fighting any new virus, including COVID-19.
However, I think we would all agree that doing what we can to prevent COVID (or any virus) cannot harm.
It's also important to note that supplements can interact with over-the-counter and prescription medications. Check with your doctor or other trusted healthcare professional before supplementing if this applies to you.
As mentioned, in this article, we will discuss a bunch of supplements that can boost your immune system. Let's do it!
Let's start by first discussing what the immune system is.
WHAT IS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM?
The immune system is a community of biological elements (cells, chemicals, and processes) that continually work to prevent infection and disease. With a properly functioning immune system, we can eliminate disease-causing pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, infectious proteins (prions), protozoa, viruses, and worms.
On the other hand, a weakened immune system makes us much more prone to illness, disease, and death. Sadly, in the era of COVID-19, we can see these troubling trends for ourselves. Statistics show that nearly 75 percent of all deaths caused by the virus consist of people over the age of 65. (Aging causes a progressive decrease in the defenses of the immune system).
Fortunately, almost everyone can boost their immune system by making healthy lifestyle choices. This includes eating a nutritious diet, getting adequate exercise, getting adequate sleep, and, yes, supplementing. The difference between the last and the rest is that supplementation is completely optional, although often necessary.
15 SUPPLEMENTS THAT CAN BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM.
ANDROGRAPHIS (‘CHIRETTA VERDE’)
Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata) is a bitter-tasting herb that has been used in both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda for centuries. Also called green chiretta, healers note that Andrographis is noteworthy for its anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antioxidant properties.
According to an article published on the ScienceDirect website, "Andrographis is particularly suitable for acute infections, with consistent evidence of its clinical efficacy [emphasis added]."
PROPOLIS ("BEE GLUE")
Bees produce propolis, a compound similar to resin, which gives it the nickname of the bee's tail.
According to a 2019 study published in the Journal of Family and Community Medicine, bee glue is a natural immunomodulatory agent. According to the author, propolis and / or its ingredients could show promise for [altering] the immune response and inducing immunomodulation.
Those who use propolis trust it for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties.
Where to buy propolis?
Propolis can be purchased at drugstores or at a sports nutrition and health food store. Topical forms include creams, ointments, and lotions. Propolis can also be taken orally, as a spray, and comes in tablets, liquid extract, and capsules.
Currently, there is no medically recommended dosage because more research is needed. One study recommends a daily concentration of approximately 70 milligrams per day, but this is not an FDA recommendation. Manufacturers may suggest a dosage on the product label. Ask your doctor if propolis is safe for you before taking any supplement.
Astragalus is another herb often used in traditional Chinese medicine and other traditional medicinal systems. People take astragalus for conditions like diabetes, hay fever, kidney disease, and even heart disease. Astragalus is also called milkvetch or Huang qi (Chinese).
According to WebMD, “Astragalus is believed to boost the immune system. It has antioxidant effects that inhibit the production of free radicals ”. Free radicals are unpaired molecules that contribute to oxidative stress and, therefore, to immune system damage.
Multiple studies have shown the immunostimulatory effects (stimulation of the immune system) of Astragalus. Additionally, the herb exhibits anti-toxicity properties.
Curcumin is a bright yellow chemical produced by the Curcuma longa genus of plants. Turmeric takes its color from curcumin and has many medicinal benefits. Related, curcumin is one of the best researched and scientifically validated natural treatments in the world.
Research shows that curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Healers recommend curcumin as a primary or adjunct treatment for various conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and even depression and Alzheimer's disease (AD).
B vitamins are often linked to convert food into energy. However, specific B vitamins also help support and strengthen the immune system. Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) is perhaps the most important in this regard.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, B6 “is vital to support biochemical reactions in the immune system. Most research points to possible immune system benefits from taking a B-complex vitamin every day.
Food sources of B6 include fish, bread, whole grains, eggs, vegetables, and soy.
People who take echinacea, usually as a tea, say that it boosts the immune system. Consumers often reduce symptoms of the common cold, flu, and other infections and illnesses. The Native Americans were the first defenders of the also known as “coneflower”.
According to a WebMD article, “Echinacea extracts appear to have an effect on the immune system, the body's defense against germs. Research also shows that it increases the number of white blood cells, which fight infection.
The elderberry is a flowering plant that "is packed with antioxidants and vitamins that can boost your immune system," reports WebMD. Elderberries contain a special type of flavonoids called anthocyanins, which have been shown to protect the body from a myriad of diseases.
According to Dr. Raul Corredor, "diets rich in polyphenols, including anthocyanins, help the human immune system to work more efficiently to protect against viral infections."
Garlic is another powerful immunostimulant with impressive health benefits.
First, according to a meta-analysis study published in The Journal of Nutrition, garlic possesses "immunomodulatory effects that increase the activity of white blood cells, natural killer cells, and the production of T and B [immunity] cells."
In the same study, the authors also noted the cholesterol-lowering effects of garlic. In fact, it "significantly" lowered the blood pressure of hypertensive people.
We are talking about the licorice root extract, which contains some powerful anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating properties.
Regarding the latter, a 2017 study published in the journal BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies concluded that licorice polysaccharides (sugar polymers) "demonstrated immunomodulatory activities in mice." These findings led the researchers to conclude that licorice polysaccharides possess anticancer properties.
No, these "mushrooms" won't take you to a distant land, but they can benefit your immune system.
In a study published in Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, researchers tested the efficacy of five mushrooms for potential cancer uses. "[Medicinal] mushrooms have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular, anti-diabetic, hepatoprotective, and anti-cancer properties [and]… mushrooms are experts in immune modulation," the authors state.
The study findings led the research team to conclude that medicinal mushrooms "should be considered as a complementary therapy" for certain cancer patients.
PELARGONIUM SIDOIDS ("BLACK GERANIUM")
Yet another unspeakable supplement, healers recommend using "black geranium" in the treatment of respiratory tract infections (eg, bronchitis, sinusitis). Many studies also attest to the powerful antibacterial and immune-boosting properties of black geranium.
In a meta-analysis study of four randomized controlled trials (RCTs), a specially formulated extract of black geranium (“EP 7630”) “significantly reduced” bronchitis symptoms within seven days. The researchers link these results, in part, to the anti-inflammatory properties of EP 7630.
The chemical element selenium plays a key role in the health of the immune system. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory; thus, a natural modulator of the immune system.
According to Healthline, selenium "can help boost the immune system of people with HIV, influenza, tuberculosis and hepatitis C."
It's no wonder "C" appears on this list. In fact, vitamin C may be the nutrient most commonly associated with immune system health. According to a study published in the journal Nutrient, “Vitamin C is an essential macronutrient, a potent antioxidant, and contributes to immune defense by supporting the myriad cell functions of the innate 'natural' and adaptive 'reactive' immune system reagents.
The best food sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits, including oranges, kiwi, lemons, grapefruit, and guava. Good plant sources include Brussels sprouts and bell peppers.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that is important for a healthy immune system.
According to a review of the effect of vitamin D on the immune system, published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine, vitamin D deficiency is implicated in "increased autoimmunity and increased susceptibility to infection."
The easiest way to get your daily dose of “D” is to spend 15 minutes in the sun!
Food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish (eg, mackerel, salmon, tuna), fortified products, beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks. Vegans and vegetarians will need to obtain vitamin D through fortified food products and / or exposure to sunlight.
Zinc is essential for the normalization and maintenance of the function of the immune system. According to WebMD, zinc "keeps the immune system strong, helps heal wounds, and supports normal growth."
Good sources of zinc include dairy products, whole grains, fortified cereals, shellfish, almonds, baked beans, chickpeas, and walnuts.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON USING SUPPLEMENTS TO BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Each of us has a unique immune system. While some of us never get sick, others seem to detect all the viruses that come their way. Using supplements to boost your immune system may be the missing secret to improving health.