How herbal medicine can boost your natural immunity

While we are all doing our bit to stem the spread of Covid-19, such as staying home, self-isolating and socially distancing ourselves, there are other ways we can invest in and help to protect our own health.

As the medical world races to develop a vaccine, it’s essential that we look to preventative health care and take simple measures to support our own wellbeing.

By eating well, getting plenty of sleep and ultimately staying healthy, we can boost our natural immunity and take steps to reduce the frequency and severity of viral and bacterial infections.

By taking a preventative approach to health and wellbeing, we may be able to avoid infection from viruses and harmful antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which have become a major problem in the 21st century.

Plant remedies could hold the key to our long-term immunity and may even have the edge over conventional chemical drugs when it comes to resilience thanks, in part, to their complex and multi-functional make up.

While herbal medicine isn’t a substitute for orthodox medical care, it can help to support our immunity and may even help us avoid infection.

The main medical strategy for tackling viral infections is immunisation but vaccines aren’t quick to develop. There are also very few anti-viral pharmaceutical medications – making treatment very difficult.

There are many immuno-suppressive therapies within conventional medicine, yet there are very few which can boost the immune system.

But herbal medicine is different. Lots of plants have both strong anecdotal and clinical evidence for their immune enhancing benefits. There are lots of well researched, natural remedies proven to help fight infection, enhance immunity, increase resilience and reduce the severity and longevity of viruses such as colds and flu.

It would be wrong to claim that these herbs can prevent or cure COVID-19 since we don’t have enough information yet, but their track record for being able to treat other viral infections means they could potentially be beneficial.”

3 herbs to boost immunity and increase resilience 

Echinacea – this go-to immune herb has become a bit of a household name in recent years. Native to North America, it has been extensively researched for treating colds and flu.

Not only has it proved effective in preventing colds, but it can reduce the duration of infections too. It works by increasing the number of white blood cells that help to fight infection.

Since coronaviruses are also responsible for the common cold and pneumonia, echinacea may have the potential to increase resistance against other emerging viral strains.

Elderberry – Scotland’s native elderberry has come under the spotlight in recent years after several positive studies showing that it can lessen the severity and longevity of viral infections.

Unlike echinacea which stimulates host immunity, elderberry has been shown to reduce viral replication by inhibiting its ability to adhere to and penetrate cell walls in the body, thus shortening the duration and severity of upper respiratory tract infections.

Nigella sativa – another notable antiviral, otherwise dubbed the aromatic Black Seed, which was written about in the book of Isaiah in the OId Testament.

This ancient remedy, which has been used for over 4,000 years has seen a dramatic revival in recent years, because of the potent effects of its main chemical constituent, an aromatic compound called Thymoquinone which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and hepatoprotective properties.

It’s known to inhibit leukotriene synthesis and histamine release, two inflammatory mediators associated with lung infection.

But good immune health is down to much more than taking medicines, regardless whether they’re natural or synthetic. Getting enough vitamin D, taking probiotics and eating healthily are just a few of the key foundations to building healthy immunity.

We can’t change our genes, but we can influence our immune health through our diets and gut microbiome – both of which have a significant impact on us staying well. By boosting our immunity and improving the condition of the ‘soil’ where viruses or bacteria can take hold, we may be able to increase our resilience against new viral strains and antibiotic resistant bacteria to avoid contracting them in the first place.”

This information should not replace medical advice or preventative strategies such as hand washing. If you are concerned you may have contracted COVID-19, follow NHS guidelines, self-isolate and phone for medical guidance.

Also please remember that not all treatments, including natural remedies, are suitable for everyone. Always consult a professional.

To find a medical herbalist near you, visit the National Institute of Medical Herbalists.