My top herbs & nutrients for natural immune support:
Vitamin C Vitamin C supplementation has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of colds and is more effective when combined with zinc. There is also evidence indicating that vitamin C has protective effects against respiratory illnesses like pneumonia. In particular, three trials reported a significantly lower incidence of pneumonia in vitamin C-supplemented groups. Vitamin C stimulates white blood cell production and function and enhances your immune system’s natural killer cells – your immune system’s soldiers.
Dose: 1000 mg 3 x a day (any loose stools – reduce dose).
Zinc Zinc is particularly critical for the immune system’s signalling pathways and is essential for the development of a healthy, robust immune system. Given the importance of zinc in supporting the body’s immune response, it can be assumed that doses of supplemental zinc is likely to support health immunity during the outbreak of coronavirus. However, it is important to avoid excessive zinc intake due to our current theoretical understanding. Short term (1-2 months) of zinc supplementation is recommended.
Dose: 30-50 mg a day
Vitamin D It is well known that vitamin D plays an important role in regulating immune function, with deficiency impacting the activity of T regulatory cells- (the ‘generals’ in your immune system army), as well as the production of antibodies. Additionally, vitamin D enhances the immune response by increasing the differentiation of monocytes to macrophages (more soldiers!) and stimulating white blood cell production, essential to the neutralisation or viral infections.
Dose: 2000 – 5000iu a day for 2 months
Elderberry – Sambuccus nigra (great tasting for kids too!). Clinical research shows that elderberry extracts can reduce flu-like symptoms and therefore may be useful in preventing COVID-19. Significant symptom relief seems to occur within 2 to 4 days of treatment for most patients. If the virus is contracted - it is advised to move to Elder LEAF extract.
Dose: Get hold of a good quality liquid tincture of the fruit not the flower, or ask your naturopath/herbalist. *Suitable for children. Andrographis paniculata Andrographis is a herb with powerful antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory abilities. Extensive scientific evidence exists on Andrographis’ ability to reduce the incidence, severity and duration of acute respiratory infections, and supporting host immune defences in a number of ways.
Dose: Herbal medicine – must be prescribed by a herbalist – not for use in pregnancy and contraindicated with some medications. Echinacea spp. Echinacea is best known for its beneficial effects on the immune system. Numerous studies have found that this plant may help your immune system combat infections and viruses, which could help you recover faster from illness. Clinical research showed that taking a specific combination product that contains elderberry and Echinacea purpurea extract for 10 days improved the rate of recovery and reduces the rate of influenza-related respiratory complications similar to an antiviral (oseltamivir).
Dose: Herbal medicine – must be prescribed by a herbalist – contraindicated with some medications and conditions.
Garlic – Allium sativum Garlic has been shown to have antiviral activity. By stimulating the production of lymphocytes, macrophages, natural killer cells (again – all different types of your immune systems soldiers), garlic is known to enhance immune system functionality. Studies have shown that garlic reduces the risk of becoming sick in the first place, as well as how long you stay sick. It can also reduce the severity of symptoms. One study gave 146 healthy volunteers either garlic supplements or a placebo for three months. The garlic group had a 63% lower risk of getting a cold, and their colds were also 70% shorter!
Dose: Food as medicine: 3 cloves of garlic per day - *Tip: Roast your garlic whole with a bit of olive oil in the oven before taking.
Medicinal Mushrooms- Reishi, Shiitake, Cordycepts, Turkey Tail. Japanese mushrooms, including Cordyceps sinensis (cordyceps), Trametes versicolor (coriolus), Ganoderma lucidum (reishi) and Lentinula edodes (shiitake) enhance the body’s immune response and provide antiviral actions. Specifically, these mushrooms activate the innate immune system, triggering the production of natural killer cells, lymphocytes, neutrophils, macrophages, and inflammatory cytokines. (Your entire immune army gets a boost).
Dose: Get some online – make sure they are good quality – or book an appointment for a prescription of the highest quality mushrooms.
Strain specific probiotics A large part of your immune system is in your gut. Certain gut bacteria play a huge part in enhancing and modulating the host’s (that’s you!) immune system: Strain specific probiotics, are useful to boost and regulate immunity. Studies have demonstrated Lactobacillus plantarum (HEAL9), Lactobacillus paracasei (8700:2) and Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG®) all have the capacity to induce key anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory molecules.
Dose – 1-2 per day – look for these strains online or book an appointment for a prescription.
In good health,
BHSc Naturopath (Distinction) The Feel Good Society Founder & Head Practitioner