nutrition-and-immune-systemNutrients That Help Build the Immune System

Does your immune system feel sluggish after a long weekend, holiday event or extended vacation?

When you start to feel your immune system break down, you need to replenish the body with immune-stimulating nutrients. Many herbs and vitamins, including Echinacea, Elderberry, green tea and vitamin C, contain beneficial ingredients that help sustain and stimulate your immune system.

Below is a partial list of materials and benefits, some of which may be new to you.  As you continue the fight against viruses and colds, we hope you find this information beneficial.

Astragalus – Astragalus has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese. Its properties can protect the body from infections by stimulating antibody activity, which include B cells, T-cell function and macrophages (all important to fighting viruses and bacteria). Up to 1,500 mg of Astragalus can be taken per day to support immunity.

Echinacea – Found in the United States and Southern Canada, Echinacea is commonly used throughout Europe and North America to prevent and treat infections. Antibodies are stimulated by Echinacea, while inflammation is reduced to aid the immune response. Researchers have found that Echinacea can reduce the common cold by 55% and lessen the duration of upper respiratory infections. Up to 900 mg per day can be taken each day for up to 8 weeks. Long-term use, without a break, is not recommended.

Elderberry– Strong antioxidant properties are contained in Elderberry to help activate immunity. Rich in flavonoids, Elderberry can increase the production of cytokines to stimulate the immune response. It can also decrease flu symptoms, as researchers found subjects taking Elderberry had a decrease in flu-like symptoms four days earlier than those taking a placebo. Up to 1,500 mg of elderberry can be taken each day.

Goldenseal Root – Valued for its immune-enhancing properties, Goldenseal root has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Its antimicrobial activity has been used to fight bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Goldenseal root improves immune function by increasing the activity of immunoglobulin antibodies. Up to 500 mg can be taken each day in divided doses.

Grapefruit Seed Extract – Citrus paradisi, or grapefruit seed extract, is derived from the seeds, pulp, and membrane of grapefruit. It has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties. Researchers found that GSE inhibited the development of 67 different bacterial strains that were exposed to GSE overnight. Recommended dosage is 100 mg to 300 mg each day.

Green Tea – Rich in catechin polyphenols, green tea is a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that stimulates immunity by boosting T-cell production and encouraging macrophage activity.  Green tea also decreases the proliferation of bacterial antigens. Up to 500 mg per day can support immunity.

Licorice Root – Licorice contains phenolic compounds that have antimicrobial and antioxidant activity. One of these compounds is beta-glycyrrhetinic acid, which reduces inflammation and allergies to stimulate immune activity. Licorice root can inhibit abnormal cell growth, decrease liver inflammation, and improve macrophage production to reduce the amount of stress on the immune system. Up to 600 mg can be taken each day for six weeks. Like Echinacea, long-term use is not recommended.

Olive Leaf – Flavonoids and phenolic compounds, found in olive leaf extract, can stimulate antioxidant and antimicrobial activity. Oleuropein, one of these primary compounds, has been shown to delay bacterial and fungal growth that impairs the immune system. Researchers have found oleuropein inhibits the development of viral infections, suggesting olive leaf extract can destroy viral agents. Supplementation can be up to 1,500 mg each day in divided doses.

Shiitake Mushroom – In Chinese medicine, shiitake mushrooms are one of the most commonly used mushrooms for therapeutic therapies. Researchers have observed that shiitake mushroom’s antimicrobial properties can inhibit the production of bacterial strains to improve immune function. Up to 400 mg of shiitake mushroom can be taken each day in divided doses.

Vitamin C – When the body is under stress, vitamin C concentrations are quickly depleted. Vitamin C levels need to be replenished daily to improve lymphocyte proliferation, natural killer cell and antimicrobial activity. By restoring vitamin C levels, the body can shorten symptoms of infections. Researchers found that subjects taking vitamin C supplements through the winter season had fewer colds and a shortened duration of cold symptoms. Up to 3,000 mg of vitamin C can be supplemented each day.

This is part 4 of a 4-part series.Boosting the Immune System

[reprinted from Applied Health Journal No.118]

[Applied Health Publications are registered in the United States Library of Congress, ISSN: 1525-6359]