Looking to stay healthy or boost your immune system? Us, too! Which is why we’ve compiled a list of 11 herbs, supplements, and foods that may help keep your immune system working its best.
Please keep in mind that we are not doctors or medical professionals, and we always highly recommend speaking to your own doctor prior to starting or taking any supplements or making lifestyle changes. NOTHING in this article is medical advice and should not be taken as such. These are simply general concepts, not prescriptive information or health advice. We cannot emphasize this enough! Proceed at your own risk.
Adaptogens have been shown in many studies to help with immunity, as well as helping to combat stress, help with sleep, and other huge health benefits. Used for thousands of years in medicine, they are just as popular now for their abilities to help the body and mind.
Astragalus, ginseng, cordyceps, and rhodiola are some of the more widely known adaptogens, but there are quite a few others.
Active hexose correlated compound is the very fancy name for extracts taken from mushrooms called basidiomycetes, which include shiitake mushrooms. AHCC is said to help boost the immune system against viruses, and may even help with side-effects from chemotherapy.
While not many studies have been done on AHCC, one study did show that those people who took AHCC showed a greater amount of dendritic cells, which play an important role in a healthy immune system.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains ingredients that work as probiotics, which have been shown to boost the immune system. It can help shorten the duration of the common cold, and the acid can help thin out any mucus in the throat, causing sore throats and congestion. It also can support healthy blood sugar levels. High blood sugar can lower the body’s ability to fight off infection.
Used in Indian and Chinese medicine for centuries, andrographis is sometimes called “Indian echinacea,” and for good reason. Like echinacea, it’s been shown to help the common cold, but some studies show that it may even be more effective. Andrographis contains anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and could even prevent illness before they even begin.
Echinacea has long been used to treat cold and flu and maybe the most widely known herb on our list. It contains both antimicrobial and antiviral properties, and some studies have shown that it can shorten the duration of the common cold by over a full day. Another study shows that it may help prevent respiratory illnesses.
Elderberry is an amazing herb that can help your immune system in a huge way, even when you’re already not feeling well. One study showed that people with flu symptoms who took elderberry felt better a full 4 days prior to those who took a placebo. Another study showed that elderberry may actually have antiviral effects.
Garlic contains compounds that can help create a response in white blood cells to fight viruses, like the flu or a cold. Studies show that garlic can reduce severity of virus symptoms and the length of illness, as well as keeping you from getting sick in the first place.
Ginger is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, both things that can help boost the immune system and fight illness. It also can help soothe an upset stomach, which is a huge bonus. Garlic is also considered to have antiviral and antibacterial properties, which are more reasons to add ginger to your diet!
Honey has a ton of health benefits, not just helping the immune system. It can help ease a cough or sore throat, improve sleep, and can remove free radicals in the body, helping boost immunity. Honey also activates an immune response to infection.
Turmeric has long been used for a variety of ailments due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Like honey, it can also help boost immunity by destroying free radicals. Studies have shown that curcumin, a component of turmeric, is responsible for its amazing abilities.
11. Vitamin C
Getting enough vitamin C is one of the easiest ways to help your immune system. Vitamin C helps produce and enhances the function of a number of the body’s responses to illness. Besides supplements, vitamin C is found in large amounts in citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwis, broccoli, papayas, brussels sprouts, and a number of other easy to find foods.