Help boost your body’s defenses against disease-causing bacteria and viruses by taking immune-stimulating herbs
Are you too busy to get sick this winter? If you find yourself squeezing every last minute out of the day, there are steps you can take to keep yourself healthy and well throughout the cooler months. Herbal remedies may help to support the functioning of your immune system. With a healthy immune system, you are less likely to succumb to colds.
Echinacea – Echinacea sp.
Echinacea has a complex mix of active substances, some of which are said to be antimicrobial, while others are believed to possibly have an effect on the human immune system.
All species of this herbal remedy have compounds called phenols. Many plants contain phenols, active substances which control the activity of a range of enzymes and cell receptors, and protect the plant from infections and UV radiation damage. Phenols have high antioxidant properties, which are good for human health.
There is no standard dose of echinacea. It depends in part on the form you use. For example, the usual dose range for pressed juice is 6-9 milliliters daily, and the usual dose range for tinctures (usually a solution of alcohol and herbal extract) is 0.75-1.5 milliliters daily.
Standardized extracts have other specific doses. Some people use echinacea tea, 6-8 ounces, four times daily. Echinacea appears to be most effective when started as soon as symptoms are noticed, taken many times a day, and used for seven to 10 days.
It is possible that liquid forms of echinacea (such as alcohol or glycerin-based tinctures) might work better than capsules — as they’re being swallowed, these liquids could have an antiviral effect on the mucous membranes of the back of the throat.
Astragalus – Astragalus membranaceus
In traditional Chinese medicine, the herb astragalus is attributed with warming properties and is regarded as a lung tonic. It is indicated for patients with longstanding illnesses and for those who are susceptible to recurrent infection, and appears to improve the functioning of the immune system so that the body can better defend itself against pathogens – especially viruses.
Astragalus membranaceus can also be supplemented via a root extract. The standard dose for the root extract form is 30g.
The main bioactive compound in Astragalus membranaceus is astragaloside IV, which can be supplemented by itself. The standard dose for astragaloside IV is 5-10mg.