Boost Your Immune System Naturally With These Herbs & Botanicals

Boost Your Immune System Naturally With These Herbs & Botanicals

Jul 25, 2023

Do you rely on coffee or energy drinks to get you through the day?

Are you riddled with headaches and turning to the painkillers in your drawer every other day or so?

If you’ve answered yes to all of the questions above, chances are high that your body is showing more than a few signs of heightened inflammation.

In my functional medicine clinic in Houston, I see many patients presenting with signs of imbalanced inflammation – environmental sensitivities, worsening acne, hair loss, gut issues, food intolerances, sleep troubles, mood slumps, fatigue, chronic pain, and more.

Our daily choices and habits can have a deep impact on our overall well-being. From the food we savor to the environments we immerse ourselves in, every aspect of our lives plays a crucial role in shaping our health. Our immune system plays a key role in maintaining a delicate balance. Like an unsung hero working behind the scenes, it tirelessly defends us, keeping us safe and healthy.

Long before the advent of synthetic medications, the healing powers of plants were the primary natural remedies available. Holistic medicine such as Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and Native American cultural practices have rich histories of employing plant-based medicinal treatments. While these alternative treatments have largely relied on anecdotal evidence in the past, there is a growing acknowledgment and acceptance of their benefits in the medical community.

In my capacity as a functional medicine specialist in Houston, I regularly prescribe nature-based supplements for my patients. In the form of tablets, powders, or teas – natural supplements are a sustainable way to improve your immune health in the long run. These supplements are a crucial part of a complete holistic treatment plan that is personalized to my patient’s unique needs.

Some of these supplements may be sitting right on your kitchen shelf (like turmeric) and going unnoticed! They may even be growing in your garden. Some you probably haven’t heard of but might be just the thing you need to feel energetic, wholesome, and healthy.

Let’s find out how these herbs and botanicals can bolster our immune system:

1. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is quite popular for its ability to improve insulin sensitivity, especially for women with PCOS. But did you know that it could help rejuvenate your immune system as well?

Apart from smelling delicious and tasting great, cinnamon comes packed with powerful antioxidants such as polyphenols. Antioxidants help get rid of harmful free radicals and protect cells from damage caused by inflammation. Compounds such as cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid, and cinnamate lend this earthy brown spice its anti-inflammatory powers.

Enjoy cinnamon by sprinkling some on your breakfast. Or, brew a warming herbal tea with cinnamon together with your favorite spices.

2. Ginger

Good ol’ ginger! As a functional medicine physician Houston, I love this multitasking fragrant root. It offers a bouquet of health benefits ranging from soothing colds, fighting inflammation, relieving digestive troubles, and more.

The reason why ginger is so multifunctional is thanks to anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols and shogaols. Together, these compounds help inhibit pro-inflammatory substances and keep inflammation in control. Remember, your immune system thrives when inflammation is in check!

3. Peppermint

This summer, give the iced coffee a miss and brew yourself a cup of peppermint tea to take advantage of its immune-boosting properties.

Beyond its refreshing scent and taste, peppermint offers several health benefits, including immune support. Peppermint contains compounds such as menthol and rosmarinic acid. These compounds give the minty plant its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also a rich source of antioxidants, including flavonoids and phenolic compounds.

What’s more, peppermint can help relieve congestion and soothe the throat, making it a go-to herb during those seasonal sniffles.

4. Astralagus

A traditional herb in Chinese medicine, Astralagus offers multiple benefits for healthy immunity. For starters, it contains antioxidants called Astragalosides that are known to support the respiratory tract.

It can modulate the immune system, enhancing certain aspects while regulating others. Astralagus can also stimulate the activity of immune cells, such as natural killer cells and T-cells, which play crucial roles in identifying and neutralizing pathogens. This immune-modulating effect helps support a robust immune response.

This combined with the herb’s adaptogenic properties makes it a top pick for a Houston functional medicine doctor like me.

Astragalus is commonly available in various forms, including capsules, teas, and extracts. However, astragalus may interact with certain medications and may not be suitable for everyone. Especially those with autoimmune conditions or taking immunosuppressive drugs.

5. Echinacea

From regulating immune response to reducing the risk of infections, Echinacea is a traditional medicine staple that is a powerful health booster.

Don’t be fooled by those pretty purple flowers, Echinacea packs in anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties. It is believed to enhance immune function by stimulating the production of white blood cells, which play a vital role in defending against harmful pathogens. Echinacea also contains compounds called alkylamides and phenols. That possess immune-enhancing properties.

If you are allergic to daisies, you should skip this plant and look elsewhere for immune support. You can consume Echinacea through supplements, teas, or tinctures – but be sure to do so under the guidance of a functional medicine doctor.

6. Garlic:

If you thought garlic was only good for keeping vampires at bay, think again! This pungent, bulbous plant is probably the easiest to incorporate into daily cooking. But did you know that it is also called ‘nature’s antibiotic’?

Along with being packed with antioxidants, garlic is also rich in sulfur compounds like allicin and S-allyl cysteine. Together, these compounds lend to improved liver detoxification, by enhancing the production and availability of glutathione. Glutathione is a potent antioxidant that plays an important role in ensuring the trash is out of our system and protects liver cells from damage.

Garlic has been found to stimulate the activity of immune cells, such as macrophages and lymphocytes, which play key roles in identifying and neutralizing pathogens.

The answer to imbalanced inflammation isn’t to jump right into a 7-day detoxification program– in fact, we require inflammation for healthy functioning in our body. It’s a sign that our immune system is working as it should to keep us safe. Trouble arises when our immune system is overloaded with environmental toxins, stress, adrenal fatigue, and unhealthy food choices. To revive health and vitality, I offer functional and integrative medicine therapies at My Pure MD Houston. Book your discovery call with me today!

  • Arizona Center For Integrative Medicine
  • The Institute For Functional Medicine
  • American Board Of Internal Medicine
  • American Board Of Physician Specialist
  • CHI St. Luke's Health
  • Academy Of Integrative Health & Medicine
  • American Collage of Physicians

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