My favourite herbs and nutrients to support your immune system!
Lately I’ve noticed every 3rd or 4th person around me has had a bit of a bug that’s taken a little longer to recover from. And it’s really just reminded me that we are unfortunately coming into that time of year where more germs are floating around. With COVID times, yes there’s definitely been a decrease in infections and common colds because everyone is sanitising and keeping their distance, but normality seems to be kicking in slowly… so let’s prepare you with my absolute go-to’s for the immune system! Nutrients: - Vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, Zinc and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). The combo of these guys particularly are important for creating and dispersing white blood cells from the thymus gland. Remember like always- brands, dosage amount and form of the nutrient matters. To be clinically effective you really need at least 30mg of zinc, and ideally no more than 300mg of vitamin C/ascorbic acid at one time. Studies have shown vitamin C to really not be any more effective or absorbed better over this amount. It also has a half life of 90 minutes which means after that time, only 50% of what you ingested is in the system. Acutely sick, I would recommend doing a low dose of vitamin C every 2 hours. So just know that the tablets that are saying 1g or 2g of vitamin C per tablet, is really no more beneficial and you’re probably best to get a powder instead so you can take a smaller amount. - Vitamin D. My one true love! This is super important for long term immune issues, recurrent infections and particularly viral issues. Do not just supplement with this though unless you’ve seen your levels below 100 through a blood test. How low your levels are will depend on how high a dose you should take as it can take a little while to increase otherwise. - Saccharomyces boulardii. This is my digestive immune hero! If you’re prone to gastro or gut related bugs, this guy needs to be in your cupboard stat. Aside from preventing gut bugs, this medicinal yeast secretes a type of protective mucous in the intestinal lining that pushes out overgrowing bacteria like Staph, Strep, Candida etc. through urine and stools. So useful for conditions like tonsillitis and UTI’s.
Herbs: - Echinacea. Oldie but a goodie. Echinacea is more useful to help prevent colds before catching them rather than when acutely sick, but it is still a ‘lymphatic’ which means it helps move lymph around the body including white blood cells. - Andrographis. The big boy of immune herbs. I only use andrographis when someone is acutely sick at the time, after 2 weeks its much less effective. Caution if you’re prone to autoimmune flare ups like psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, MS or SLE then seek advice from a professional first. This herb is one of the most stimulating to the immune system hence triggering autoimmunity systems. I learnt this the hard way when my psoriasis used to be at its peak! - Astragalus. Another favourite of mine for a more gentle immune stimulation. Antiviral, anti-infective, post-viral conditions, great for really exhausted immune states. Also an ‘adaptogen’ which helps us cope with stress in a healthier way. - Lemon balm. This herb I mainly think of for viral specific conditions like flare ups of HSV like cold sores, herpes or general flu’s – works brilliantly for topical use of these by the way! - Marshmellow OR licorice. I use either one of these if someone has a really sore, raw throat with a dry cough. They act as ‘demulcent’ which is really soothing to any mucous membranes. Licorice is that little bit more antiviral but is contraindicated in some circumstances. These are my general go-to’s, then depending on someone’s specific symptoms like snotty nose, shortness of breath, prone to lung infections, I will tailor their mix to add in other specific herbs great for these. Hopefully this information provides you with the confidence to tackle any bugs going around, and just know yes it is possible to be around other people who are sick and NOT get it also. I’ve lived in households where everyone has had the flu, gastro or lord forbid the dreaded manflu and not caught any of these myself. Remember we also offer acute consults in clinic for simpler things like this which ensures you’re also taking super high quality supplements.
Teresa is a degree qualified Naturopath and specialises in conditions of the immune system, skin and integrative oncology. She practices Mon-Fri at The Sana Co Clinic, offering both in person and online consultations. Book your appointment with Teresa