Boosting or offering support to our immune system is important year round, but especially during the colder, fall and winter months. In this article, I will share with you 5 supplements that can quickly and effectively boost the immune system and help prevent or decrease the severity of common infections.
From about the months of October through April, many people suffer various infections, most notably from cold and flu viruses, or bacterial throat, nose, or chest infections. The reasons for this are several: the change in temperature and external conditions, increased enclosed environments, decreased sunlight and fresh air, increased contact with others, less consumption of fresh fruit or vegetables, and stress-filled events, such as the holiday seasons and year-end work commitments.
To optimize our immune health, we should always prioritize leading a healthy lifestyle, one that includes wholesome, natural food, based on plants (especially vegetables and fruits); ample physical activity and sleep; maintenance of a healthy weight and effective stress relief outlets. We also have to stay mindful of our state of mind: our mental and emotional wellbeing. This includes how we think—negative or positive, how we express our emotions—suppress or effectively express, and how we feel about ourselves—appreciate ourselves or put ourselves down.
Sometimes however, despite our best efforts to balance our physical, mental, and emotional needs in our lives, there will be periods that are become less balanced. This can include any number of events and times of amplified stress or trauma. When more strenuous or stressful times are abound, it is good to know that there are high quality, natural immune boosters that we can count on. In fact, nature is full of them, from the food we eat to the medicinal plants and mushrooms that we can benefit from. Before I share with you my top 5 choices for warding off infections and enhancing wellbeing, I also invite you to watch a free video lecture I share on how to stay healthy during the winter.
Ever since I discovered and properly learned about homeopathy, it has been my go-to approach for any kind of internal imbalance, whether for myself or those in my care. Homeopathy works with our body's natural healing ability, is extremely effective (when used properly), and comes with no side-effects. We cannot even say that much about herbal remedies.
Unfortunately our society, and many in it, are not yet ready or open to the power and potential of homeopathy. Although it has been in use for over 200 years, with many well-documented success cases for pretty much any and everything that ails us and widespread use in many countries around the world, our Western world has quite an aversion to it. This is not surprising, however, for those who understand how the modern field of science and medicine works. These arenas are driven largely by a reductionist approach to science and corporate interests. Simply put, homeopathy does not fit into their world view. We have to understand that, for the most part, homeopathy is an energy-based, not chemical-based approach. This is why modern science and medicine discount it, as they predominantly understand the world of form.
However for those of us who are open to homeopathy or already well aware of its incredible potential, there are many homeopathic remedies that can offer a healthy boost to our immune system and help us ward off infections. One of the main, and easiest to work with, remedies in this regard is the cell salt #4 Ferr Phos.
Learn more how homeopathy can help boost the immune system and treat the cold or flu, via an interview I did with homeopath, Burke Lennihan.
2. Oregano Oil
The oregano plant has been revered for centuries for both culinary and medicinal use. It can easily be added in fresh or dried form to many of our meals, not only bringing out some delightful flavors and aromas, but also positively helping our health. Its formidable function is owed to the many phytonutrients that it contains, specifically some very powerful compounds known as phenols.
However, not all oregano is of equal value, especially when it comes to warding off infections and boosting our immune health. Amidst about 40 species, wild oregano or Origanum vulgare, which is native to Mediterranean regions, has the most immune-related value. Oregano oil has immune boosting, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and antioxidant qualities. You can learn more about the health benefits of oregano oil here.
The oil is usually taken sublingually (a few drops under the tongue). Note, that oregano oil has a burning effect on thin, membraneous tissues like our mouth and so many people prefer to take the drops mixed with a little bit of water. The North American Herb & Spice brand that produces the Oreganol p73 formula is one that I trust as a high quality option.
3. Colloidal Silver/Silver Hydrosol
The use of silver as an antimicrobial substance dates back thousands of years and this product was used in various forms readily until about the middle of the 20th century when antibiotics widely took over the market. Colloidal silver is a liquid suspension of microscopic particles of silver.You can read more about the history, uses and science backing up silver as an antimicrobial substance here in “A Brief History of the Health Support Uses of Silver” or here in “Historic Perspectives on Clinical Use and Efficacy of Silver.”
Silver contains antimicrobial properties, which give bacteria, viruses, and fungi an unfavorable environment in which to live. Silver also has a history as a respected preservative, disinfectant, regenerative agent, and immune support mineral. It has been known historically as a “natural antibiotic”.
Mainstream medicine has openly refuted silver and its use to boost the immune system. Common arguments are that it is not effective, and if anything, dangerous. However today, with antibiotic resistance on the rise, silver is getting a second chance even in conventional medicine. Colloidal silver has shown promise to treat the wounds of burn victims and has been found to amplify the effectiveness of antibiotics.
For best results and safety, it is wise to consult with a trusted alternative or integrative physician before using any kind of silver supplements. And as with all supplements (and foods), quality is key! Research your brand of interest to ensure a high level of purity and potency. A brand that I have had experience with, trust, and recommend is Sovereign Silver from Natural Immunogenics.
Echinacea is a plant whose parts have been used to stimulate the immune system by Native Americans for hundreds of years. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center studies have found that echinacea "contains active substances that enhance the activity of the immune system, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and have antiviral and antioxidant effects". It is considered a versatile herb and used to treat or prevent many conditions.
Given this information, echinacea's popularity has increased tremendously over the past few decades. Today, it is widely and abundantly available in all pharmacies, drug stores, and health food stores and from numerous companies. However, effectiveness will differ based on the species of echinacea used (E. purpurea, E. angustifolia, or E. pallida) and the plant part. As with all herbs and similar products, potency, purity, and quality counts most for best effectiveness, benefits, and safety.
Therefore, it is best to avoid cheap or generic or even most of the common drug store brands. Opt for high quality sources from reputable companies. Pure tinctures are also preferred over any pill or capsule for increased effectiveness and decreased exposure to other, unfavorable ingredients. A company that I trust and have had good experience with in the past is the Oregon-based, family-owned Herb Pharm who offers an Organic Echinacea liquid tincture.
5. Olive Leaf
The olive plant has offered us abundant benefits for millennia when it comes to culinary and medicinal use. Whether the fruit or the leaf, the olive is rich in powerful phytonutrients, which provide many healing and preventative qualities. One of the most powerful attributes of the olive is a substance called oleuropein, which has been well studied since the 20th century.
Thanks to this compound, to a large degree, the olive leaf has potent antimicrobial activity that is both anti-bacterial and anti-viral. It has rich antioxidant power, boosts the immune system, and contains antipyretic properties that help with fevers. Australian researchers have found that "olive leaf extract has 40 times more antioxidants than the best extra virgin olive oil." Beyond the immune system, olive leaf extract also exhibits many other positive effects on our health, healing, and prevention.
For your olive leaf supplement to be effective, however, it is essential that it comes from a reputable source. It must be of a high potency and purity, especially when it comes to its composition of oleuropein. I have tried Kroeger Herb Olive Leaf Extract several years ago, but would be inclined instead, to recommend the Organic Olive Leaf liquid tincture from Herb Pharm.
Each of the above products has the potential to have a powerful effect on our health and immune system. It is therefore always prudent to be accountable for our health and adequately research any product before we use it. Additionally, aside perhaps from the homeopathy, one should consult with a skilled and trusted natural health provider. This is essential if you are pregnant, breast feeding, suffering from any auto-immune diseases, or if you are on any medications.
And as always, may we be inclined to turn to our diets and lifestyles, first and foremost, to build a healthy immune system that can withstand any stress or invader that comes its way.