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, whether we suppress them or effectively express them; and how we feel about ourselves, whether we 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 we encounter strenuous or stressful times, 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 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 by enhancing our body’s vital force (life force) and natural healing ability. It is extremely effective when used properly, meaning that the right remedy is chosen for the totality of symptoms of the specific person, and it comes with no side-effects. It works completely differently than herbal remedies and pharmaceutical drugs.
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.
For those of us who are open to homeopathy or are already well aware of its incredible healing 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.
Oregano 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, so many people prefer to take the drops mixed with a little bit of water. The North American Herb & Spice company makes the Oreganol p73 formula, which is one that I trust as a high-quality option.
3. Colloidal Silver/Silver Hydrosol
The antimicrobial properties of silver have been known for thousands of years. In fact, silver was used in various forms readily in medical settings until about the middle of the 20th century when antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals took over the market. Colloidal silver is a liquid suspension of microscopic particles of silver that are deemed safe for us to ingest in appropriate quantities. You can read more about the history, uses, and science backing up silver as an antimicrobial substance in the following article: A Brief History of the Health Support Uses 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, this is not true based on research findings of silver, and given that antibiotic resistance is 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 recommended to consult a trusted alternative or integrative physician before using any kind of silver remedies, unless you are already knowledgeable or comfortable with the product. As with all supplements and foods, quality is the key! Research the brand of colloidal silver you choose to ensure a high level of purity and potency. A brand that I have had experience with and trust is Sovereign Silver, which comes in brown glass bottles for maximum bio-activity of the product and features a safe and effective silver particle size.
Echinacea is a plant whose parts have been used to stimulate the immune system by Native Americans for hundreds of years. It is considered a versatile herb and used to treat or prevent many conditions. According to a 2007 study on echinacea published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, echinacea is a wide-spectrum immunomodulator, which contains several active substances that enhance the activity of the immune system, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and have antiviral and antioxidant effects. However, the species of the echinacea plant (E. purpurea, E. angustifolia, or E. pallida), the part of the echinacea plant that is used in the remedy, and the preparation process all heavily impact its efficacy. Most cheap supplement forms of echinacea are useless, and one really has to know what to look for when investing in this herb. 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, generic, and most common drug store brands. Opt instead for high-quality sources from reputable companies that can provide information and research about their product. 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 a good experience with is the Oregon-based, family-owned Herb Pharm, which offers numerous pure and high-quality herb formulas, including an Organic Super 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 antioxidants and 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. Like echinacea, olive leaf extracts are immunomodulators and help to enhance the proper activity of the immune system. Olive leaf also contains antipyretic properties that help to reduce fevers. Beyond the immune system, olive leaf extracts also provide 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, like any other supplement. It must be of high potency and purity, especially when it comes to its composition of oleuropein. In this regard, I would also recommend the Organic Olive formula from Herb Pharm, which I mentioned above.
Each of these immune-supporting products has the potential to have a beneficial effect on our health to help us heal and prevent infectious diseases. It is always prudent to be accountable for our health and adequately research any product before we use it. Additionally, it is often valuable to consult with a skilled and trusted healthcare provider who is specifically trained in either homeopathy or herbology. Note, that many naturopathic doctors today are trained generally in these areas, and are not always the best sources of information as they tend to push many supplements at once and for every condition. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, suffering from any auto-immune diseases, or on any high-risk medications, then it is imperative to consult with a proper healthcare practitioner before using any products.
Ultimately, a proper diet provides the best healing and prevention, and this is where we should turn first and foremost before looking towards any supplements or remedies. Invest your time and efforts into a nutrient-rich plant-based diet and a lifestyle that supports your physical, mental, and emotional health. This is the most effective way to create and maintain a healthy immune system that can withstand any harmful invaders that comes its way.