Top 10 Herbs That Strengthen Your Immune System

Carly Fraser |

These 10 immune supportive plants will ensure that all those nasty colds and flus going around don’t end up in YOUR body! Help purify the blood of toxins and impurities and provide yourself with a new & improved immune system!

Chaga Mushroom
These mushrooms contain immune system supportive secondary metabolites (melanin, betulinic acid, phenolic compounds and lanostane-type triterpenoids) which contain high levels of antioxidants. Records from as early as the 16th century have shown that the chaga mushroom has helped those suffering from ulcers, cancer, tuberculosis and gastritis! The immune system is also balanced by certain polysaccharides found within this mushroom, helping to combat inflammation and to fight against infections and germs.

This herb helps to protect and support the immune system by preventing colds and upper respiratory tract infections, reducing blood pressure, treating diabetes and protecting the liver. Astragalus supplements have been found to improve immune function in individuals recovering from chemotherapy or radiation (who have compromised immune systems), and helps these individuals recover faster and live longer. Astragalus is an antioxidant, so it helps with individuals suffering from heart disease, chronic inflammation, high cholesterol levels and cancer.

Maitake Mushroom
This incredible mushroom has been shown to limit as well as reverse tumour cell growth, and boost the functioning of our immune system. These mushrooms contain a polysaccharide called beta glucan which stimulates the immune system and activates proteins and cells which target and attack cancer. These include macrophages, T-cells, natural killer cells, and interleukin-1 and -2. Researchers have also shown that maitake can regulate blood pressure, glucose, insulin as well as serum and liver lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides and phospholipids), and can help individuals wishing to lose weight.

Pau D’Arco
This bark-like substance which can be made into teas is an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal. It stimulates the immune system and is well-known as a “natural antibiotic.” This bark contains naphtoquinones which inhibit free radicals and inflammatory leukotrienes as well as suppress tumour formation and reduce tumour viability. It fights against infections, colds, flus, respiratory problems, gastrointestinal issues, inflammatory conditions like arthritis and gout and acts as a mild diuretic.

Most people are aware of the amazing effects of echinacea and the immune system. Studies have suggested that this flower stimulates our white blood cells and spleen cells whose primary function is to fight off infections in the body. It may also stimulate the release of interferons which are some of the body’s most potent infection-fighting soldiers. Interferons interrupt the genetic code of germs which prevents them from replicating and reproducing. Echinacea also stimulates the body to produce more macrophages which phagocytose (eat) bacterial cells, keeping our body infection-free!

This amazing root is a wonderful anti-viral and anti-bacterial! It has been found to inhibit viruses from attaching to and infecting different cells of the body via stimulation and secretion of anti-viral proteins called interferon-beta. Ginger also inhibits mucous formation and clears up congestion. Ginger and garlic combined make a particularly potent combo which offer antibacterial benefits against drug-resistant bacteria!

This herb has been used for decades to help combat urinary tract infections, diarrhea, eye infections, canker sores and vaginitis. Goldenseal contains a compound called berberine which kills many different bacteria types and stimulates the production of white blood cells, making them more effective at fighting infections and strengthening the immune system. It is considered a natural antibiotic and can also help with individuals suffering from digestive issues.

Korean Red Ginseng
This “king of herbs” is one of the most well-known oriental medicinal herbs. It has been used as an herbal remedy for a variety of disorders (e.g., cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, insulin resistance, and hypertension) due to it’s incredible immune supportive effects. Red ginseng has been reported to enhance the human body’s resistance to illness or microbial attacks by maintaining a homeostasis of the immune system. Ginseng stimulates the production of a variety of immune system cells such as macrophages, natural killer cells, dendritic cells, T cells, and B cells, all of which help our body fight off disease and illness at a much faster rate.

Schizandra Berry
This potent adaptogenic herb has cortisone-like effects on the immune system, which makes it a powerful “natural antibiotic.” It is also a wonderful source of antioxidants which assist in improving mental clarity and increases your body’s level of the detoxifying antioxidant called glutathione. It not only helps power the immune system, but it combats issues related to stress such as adrenal fatigue, dizziness, headaches, heart palpitations, insomnia and profuse sweating.

Cat’s Claw
Cat’s claw has been used for hundreds of years to treat multiple health issues. The extracts of this herb contain powerful antioxidants which scavenge free radicals and help prevent inflammation, improve immune function, support DNA repair and promote normal cell division. When rats were fed an 8-week diet supplemented with cat’s claw, research found that white blood cell count dramatically increased, suggesting that this herb helps to improve the body’s ability to fight off infectious bacteria and viruses. Likewise, adult men who supplemented with cat’s claw for six months also experienced this increase in white blood cell count, and thus enhanced immune function.

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Eating Sesame Seeds Found to be Better than Tylenol for Knee Arthritis

Sayer Ji |

Image: Image: International Journal of  Rheumatic Diseases
Image: International Journal of  Rheumatic Diseases
A remarkable new study published in the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases confirms that food is not only medicine, but sometimes superior to it.  Medical researchers working out of Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran, sought to investigate the effects of sesame seed supplementation on clinical signs and symptoms in patients with knee osteoarthritis.[i]

Knee osteoarthritis is a form of degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis localized in the knee, and causes a variety of symptoms including pain, swelling, abnormal bone growth (which can result in bone spurs), disfigured cartilage and loss of motion, and it affects as many as 12.1% of adults aged 60+, according to the CDC.[ii]  Standard therapy involves the use of NSAID drugs, many of which have been linked both to internal bleeding and significantly increased risk of cardiac mortality, which is why the researchers sought out to look for "a complementary treatment to reduce complications and costs."

The study took fifty patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, and divided them into two 25-patient groups: a sesame group, receiving 40 grams/day of powdered sesame seeds, and a standard drug therapy group, receiving two 500 mg doses of Tylenol twice a day along with 500 mg of glucosamine once daily. After two months of treatment, 22 patients in the sesame intervention group and 23 patients in the control group completed the study.

Table 1

Considering that treatment was comprised of little over an ounce and one half of sesame seeds, the results were truly remarkable. As presented in Table 1 above, there was a significant difference in pain intensity between the two groups after treatment, with the sesame group seeing the largest drop from 9.5 before treatment to 3.5 after treatment, and the control group seeing a more modest drop from 9 before treatment to 7 after treatment. Additional measurements were taken using both the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) Questionnaire and the Timed Up and Go (TUG) Test. Both tests revealed a similar degree of positive change in both treatment and control groups, when compared to baseline. [See table 2 and table 3 below].

Table 2 [KOOS]

Table 3 [TUG]

Taken together, sesame was the clear winner. Not only was this food therapy superior in reducing the intensity of pain, but it was at least equal in effectiveness to Tylenol and glucosamine in both the KOOS and TUG tests. This, of course, was accomplished without the notorious side effects associated with Tylenol; to the contrary, sesame seed has a wide range of side benefits, which we covered recently in our article on sesame's health benefits.

So, how much is 40 grams of sesame seed? A tablespoon of sesame seeds is approximately 9 grams. So, approximately 4 tablespoons will get you to what the study found to be a 'clinical dose.' Also, the researchers powdered the sesame seeds in order to enhance digestion. Remember, it is best to do this fresh with a mortar and pestle (first choice) or coffee grinder, also making sure that your seeds are raw, certified organic, and vetted to have not undergone gamma irradiation.

To truly appreciate the significance of this study, take a look at the growing body of toxicological research indicating that the unintended, adverse health effects of Tylenol (acetaminophen) far outweigh its purported benefits. We recently featured articles on the fact that even only occasional use of Tylenol may raise a child's asthma risk 540%, and that it may be time for the FDA to remove it from the market.

For additional research on natural and/or integrative interventions for knee osteoarthritis visit our research page on the topic: knee osteoarthritis.


[i] Bina Eftekhar Sadat, Mahdieh Khadem Haghighian, Beitollah Alipoor, Aida Malek Mahdavi, Mohammad Asghari Jafarabadi, Abdolvahab Moghaddam. Effects of sesame seed supplementation on clinical signs and symptoms in patients with knee osteoarthritis.

[ii], Osteoarthritis statistics

How to Optimize Turmeric Absorption for Super-Boosted Benefits

Elizabeth Renter | Natural Society

When we talk about eating foods for their specific health benefits, many people think simply eating the food is enough. For instance, if you struggle with inflammatory bowel disease and have read that turmeric is effective in healing many digestive issues, you may simply get a turmeric (curcumin) supplement to start taking. But you would be overlooking one crucial fact about turmeric that could mean the difference between simple consumption and full-absorption. That fact: turmeric is fat-soluble, and you want to be able to absorb is magnificent food to experience all of the health benefits it has to offer.

When something is fat-soluble, that means it dissolves in fat. Without fat, the active component in turmeric, curcumin, has a difficult time making it past the stomach, into the small intestine, and into the blood where it can offer the greatest benefits.

In order to make the most of turmeric, you must take it with a bit of fat.

With curry (where turmeric is most popular), your body is able to make the most of the curcumin because there is usually some oil in the recipe. We can learn from this by trying to take turmeric as part of a healing synergistic whole—one healing piece of an overall healthful meal.

But even when curry isn’t on the menu or when you simply want a “hit” of curcumin, you can use it’s fat-soluble qualities to ensure your body makes the most of it.

Read: Cancer Doctor Explains How to Get the Most from Turmeric

Golden Milk Tea, sometimes referred to as only golden milk, is an ancient way of experiencing the benefits of turmeric with helpful fat included. While there are many recipes for golden milk, they usually involve dissolving a paste of turmeric and water into a small cup of milk and coconut oil. Remember to use high-quality organic turmeric in the milk preparation. Also, as NaturalNews reports, you can prepare the paste in advance and keep it in your refrigerator for weeks.

Other ways to get the most out of your turmeric:
  • Sprinkle some on an avocado
  • Dissolve it in a tablespoon of coconut oil before adding it to a smoothie
  • Stir it into olive oil and then toss in fresh vegetables
  • Consume turmeric or curcumin with black pepper. ”Adding black pepper to turmeric or turmeric-spiced food enhances curcumin’s bioavailability by 1,000 times, due to black pepper’s hot property called piperine,” says nutritionist Stacy Kennedy.
A little fat plus a little turmeric equals a whole host of health benefits. From reducing blood pressure and inflammation to preventing Alzheimer’s and treating depression—making the most of this beautiful root could have immeasurable positive effects on your health.

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