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Immune-boosting Herbs

There are a number of herbs that facilitate in perking up the immune system. For instance, findings of studies undertaken recently demonstrate that when taken continuously for several months, the American ginseng root, held in high esteem for several centuries for its use as a vitality and health tonic, facilitates in avoiding infections of the upper respiratory tract. According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine, tonic or stimulating herbs like ginseng should be taken to make the immune system stronger. However, these herbs are normally discontinued when one is suffering from any severe ailment, for instance cold.

Below is a brief discussion on different tonic herbs that help to enhance the immune system or immunity.

Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata): At times, also known as 'Indian Echinacea', andrographis helps in lowering the period as well as seriousness of cold symptoms. According to the findings of a number of studies, this herb may also facilitate in avoiding infection of the upper respiratory system. Chemical analysis of andrographis has revealed that this herb encloses compounds that promote the functioning of the immune system and, at the same time, stop viral growth. The standard dosage of andrographis is 400 mg taken thrice every day.

Echinacea (Echinacea spp.): Notwithstanding the findings of a few researches questioning the effectiveness of Echinacea in boosting the immune system, findings of several hundred studies have endorsed the use of this herb in the form of an effectual aid to thwart as well as treat cold, flu and different other contagious ailments. Echinacea promotes the immune cells that combat infection and enhances the production of additional immune amalgams, for instance, interferon. It may be noted that Echinacea works most excellently when it is taken at frequent intervals soon after the onset of any infection. The typical dosage of Echinacea is 30 drops to 60 drops of the liquid extract obtained from the herb or 1 to 2 capsules (each 300 mg to 400 mg) taken at intervals of two hours during the first 24 hours to 48 hours. Later, the dosage of this herb should be taken four times every day for three consecutive days after the symptoms of infection fade away.

Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus): Eleuthero is a very familiar adaptogenic herb (any herb that helps in normalizing the body systems, especially adjusting to stressors). Clinical studies have shown that the root of this herb enhances the functioning of the immune system. For utmost results, Eleuthero should be taken for a minimum period of three months to make the immune reaction stronger. As the potency of different products available in the market varies, it is advisable that you follow the dosage recommendations by the manufacturers.

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra): The deep bluish-black color elderberries are known to enclose high amounts of compounds that neutralize viruses as well as stop them from attacking the healthy cells. Findings of several studies have demonstrated that elderberry provides considerable defence against viral infections of the respiratory tract. To prevent viral infections, the normal dosage is half-a-spoonful of liquid extract of this herb or taking one teaspoonful of elderberry syrup taken twice every day. In order to speed up recuperation from cold or flu, you need to take one spoonful of the herb's extract or two teaspoonfuls of elderberry syrup four times every day.

Green tea (Camellia sinensis): When you develop the habit of drinking green tea on a regular basis, it has the potential to fortify the immune system. In effect, green tea encloses powerful antioxidant amalgams that counteract free radicals as well as avoid damage to the immune system. Apart from this, green tea also supports the liver in discharging interferon - an immune amalgam that facilitates in combating infection. In order to boost up the functioning of the immune system, you need to drink three or more cups of green tea every day.

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus): For many hundred years, people have depended on astragalus, garlic as well as therapeutic mushrooms to boost up the functioning of our immune system and the findings of researches undertaken currently endorse the conventional use of astragalus. In order to ensure maximum immunity, it is advisable that you use either one or a combination of the herbs discussed here on a regular basis. If you take these herbs in the form of a stimulant soup, it will prove to be very appetizing.

Astragalus belongs to the pea family and its roots have been employed in Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 2,000 years in the form of a well accepted stimulant to reinforce vitality as well as to boost up the resistance to ailments. Currently, researchers are working to substantiate the scientific repute of the herb as an enhancer of the immune system.

Findings of several researches have shown that astragalus enhances the functioning of the immune system in many different ways. It sets off the development of immune cells in the bone marrow as well as lymphatic tissue; stimulates the immune cells, counting the macrophages (large white blood cells) and natural killer cells, so that their activity is enhanced. In addition, astragalus also improves the production of immune amalgams, for instance, immunoglobulin. Astragalus encloses elements like polysaccharides (big, multifaceted sugar molecules which improve the actions of the immune system), together with flavonoids and saponins, have been detected to protect cells against damage caused by the harmful free radicals produced by the body. These free radicals result in degenerative ailments, for instance cancer.

It may be mentioned here that the herb astragalus is commercially available in various forms, counting dehydrated roots of the herb, liquid extracts of the herb as well as capsules. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this herb is frequently used to prepare a tea or small pieces of the root are cooked in soup. Owing to the immune boosting attributes of this herb, it is crucial in avoiding any form of ailment or health issue. For this, astragalus is blended with an assortment of additional herbs that are prescribed for treating different health conditions.

In the Western herbal medicine, astragalus is usually taken in the form of a liquid extract obtained from the herb or capsules prepared from the herb. As the preparations with this herb differ in their strength, it is advisable to follow the manufacturers' dosage directions mentioned on the package for optimum results.

Garlic belongs to the lily family and since 2600 B.C. it has been valued for its therapeutic attributes. In effect, anthropologists have discovered prescriptions for the herb sculpted on prehistoric clay tablets belonging to the Sumerian period. Different cultures across the globe have adopted garlic in the form of a cure for all ailments ranging from colds to cancer. Before the discovery of penicillin, garlic was the foremost choice for treating contagions like bronchitis, pneumonia, dysentery and tuberculosis.

Scientists are of the view that the sulfur compounds that instil garlic with its distinctive odour and essence are also accountable for the health benefits offered by this herb. It may be noted that most researches undertaken on garlic thus far have concentrated on the sulfur compound allicin that possesses antimicrobial attributes. Allicin is produced when an amino acid containing sulfur present in garlic and called alliin, comes in contact with a different compound present in garlic - the enzyme allinase. This type of enzymatic reaction occurs at a time when garlic is sliced, chewed or crushed. However, it is generally obliterated when the herb is cooked.

Since consumption of raw garlic may result in gastrointestinal disorders, especially when taken on an empty stomach, it is advisable that you consume raw garlic when you are taking your meals. In case you are including garlic to any cooked delicacy, for instance soup or pasta, you need to add it during the concluding part of the cooking with a view to avoid the antimicrobial compounds present in the herb from being destroyed.

In the event of you taking any prescription anti-coagulant medication, you need to talk to your physician prior to taking large amounts of garlic, since garlic also possesses blood-thinning attributes. It is for this reason, you should stop taking garlic supplements about seven to 10 days prior to undergoing a surgery. In addition, prior to any unscheduled medical procedure, it is important for you to inform your doctors that you are taking garlic.

Mushrooms and immunity

While we have a tendency to believe that mushrooms are mainly ingredients for cooking gourmet meals, Traditional Chinese Medicine has always held mushrooms in high esteem for several thousand years for the fungi's strong curative properties. People in China and Japan use therapeutic mushrooms, for instance, maitake, shiitake and reishi, and consider them to be tonics that facilitate in increasing the live expectancy. Currently, findings of a number of studies have made it evident that these helpful fungi are potent allies for making the immune system stronger.

It may be noted that mushrooms enclose an assortment of dynamic compounds, such as glycoproteins, polysaccharides, triterpenes, ergosterols and even antibiotics. Till date, scientists have put their maximum intensified concentration on the polysaccharides - the similar type of amalgams that are present in astragalus. Similar to the polysaccharides present in astragalus, the polysaccharides contained by mushrooms also enhance the functioning of the immune system by augmenting the actions of macrophages (large white blood cells) that have an insatiable hunger for harmful microorganisms (pathogens) and also cancer cells. In addition, polysaccharides also set off the creation of a kind of white blood cells that eliminates a wide variety of contagious microorganisms as well as tumour cells. Finally, polysaccharides contained by mushrooms also stimulate other different crucial immune features, such ad B-cells, T-cells, interleukins and interferons.

Even as every therapeutic mushroom offers benefits to the immune system, it may be noted that every variety of medicinal mushroom encloses dissimilar amalgams, which function in a variety of manners to augment immunity or boost up the immune system. Hence, the most excellent method is to employ a variety of medicinal mushrooms with a view to make a comprehensive base of immune support available. Fresh or dried shiitake and maitake mushrooms are available in several grocery stores and they add flavour to stir-fries and soups. Together with an assortment of additional therapeutic mushrooms, maitake, shiitake and reishi, are also available in the form of concentrated extracts as well as in blends especially prepared to augment the health of the immune system. Since the potency of the different mushroom products available commercially differs, it is advisable to always follow the dosage recommended by the manufacturers.

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