Boost your Immune System

by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

Introduction

The health of the immune system plays an important role in the body’s susceptibility to colds and flu. Maintaining a healthy immune system along with a healthy lifestyle, reduced stress levels, a good quality of sleep and a regular exercise will help to prevent infection including the common cold. It is also important to avoid harmful chemicals and pollutants such as tobacco, excessive amounts of alcohol and refined sugars, all of which can impair the immune system.

Strengthening a weakened immune system may help to prevent catching a cold or the flu. Nutrients that may aid the enhancement of the immune system include the antioxidant vitamins A, C, D and E and the mineral zinc. Immune cell function is influenced by the oxidant and antioxidant balance, so antioxidant supplements have been investigated clinically for their ability to enhance immune responses. Herbs such as Andrographis, Echinacea, Rehmannia and Holy Basil are all useful in both the prevention and alleviation of colds and flu symptoms.

Herbal Remedies

Andographis

Although Andrographis paniculata is used for a wide variety of indications in Ayurvedic and Western herbal medicine, clinical evidence of effectiveness in humans is focused on the common cold. Clinical studies in bacterial and viral respiratory infections demonstrated positive effects, implying an immune stimulant action. There is also some evidence that Andrographis might increase antibody activity and phagocytosis by macrophages. Additionally, mounting evidence suggests Andrographis may have mast cell stabilizing and anti-allergic activity.

Tablets containing Andrographis paniculata have proven effective in the treatment of common cold and uncomplicated sinusitis. An open study found that 1.0 g of Andrographis was as effective as the antibiotics cotrimoxazole and norfloxacin in the reduction of pyuria and haematuria. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, 107 healthy children received either Andrographis paniculata extract tablets or placebo for 3 months during the winter season. By the third month there was a significant decrease in the incidence of colds compared to placebo. The relative risk of catching a cold was 2,1 times lower for the Andrographis group.

In addition, the US Company Paracelsian has developed chemical products based on Andrographis targeted at the AIDS community and cancer patients

Echinacea

Echinacea

Echinacea species has antiviral and immune system stimulatory effects and is commonly used for upper respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold and influenza. It increases phagocytosis and lymphocyte activity, possibly by promoting the release of tumour necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin-1 (IL-1), and interferon. Several constituents of Echinacea seem to be involved in stimulating this non-specific immune response. Investigations have shown an inhibitory effect on inflammation and on the growth of bacteria, viruses and fungi, which might be based on the stimulation of controlling elements of our immune system. This may lead to an increase in polymorphonuclear leukocytes and natural killer cells, and thus to an increase in phagocytic activity.

Echinacea is safe to use in all ages and it is indicated in skin conditions, especially abscesses, boils, carbuncles, and acne. It improves resistance to and recovery from all infections, bacterial, viral and fungal and it is particularly applicable to chronic and low-grade subclinical infections and those marked by debility and cold. It is also indicated in infections of the mouth and upper respiratory tract, such as pyorrhoea, ulcers, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, recurrent otitis media, etc.

Holy Basil

The aerial parts of Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) are highly regarded in Ayurvedic traditional medicine and used fresh or dried to treat skin diseases, impurities of blood, malaria, gastric and hepatic disorders, chronic fever, haemorrhage, catarrh and bronchitis. Fresh leaf combined with honey and ginger juice is a good expectorant, and is beneficial for coughs, bronchitis and fever in children.

Holy Basil has demonstrated antitussive (suppresses cough), immune stimulating activity and adaptogenic activity (anti-stress) from oral and injected administration in experimental models. Improved physical endurance, prevention of stress-induced ulceration, improved resistance against hepatotoxicity, normalization of plasma corticosterone and stimulation of humoral immunity were observed.

Rehmannia

Rehmannia root (Rehmannia glutinosa) is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to reduce heat in the blood, to nourish yin and promote the production of body fluid indicated for skin eruptions, nosebleed and to prolong life.

In Western herbal medicine, Rehmannia is regarded as an adrenal tonic. Results of clinical research suggest that it supports the cells of the adrenal cortex and pituitary glands during times of prolonged stress. It may also be used for the treatment of conditions that involve the immune system such as Rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders. It is also an anti-inflammatory and reduces fever.

The “Immune tonic” formula containing Echinacea, Andrographis, Rehmannia and Ginger may be ordered online or you may contact me for more information.

Nutritional Supplements

Zinc

Zinc is involved in many aspects of the immunological function. It is essential for the normal development and function of cells, mediating non-specific immunity such as neutrophils and natural killer cells and affecting development of acquired immunity and T-lymphocyte function.

Oral zinc supplements, lozenges and nasal sprays and gels have been investigated in the treatment of the common cold. It has been shown that a transient increase in zinc concentrations in and around the nasal cavity prevents rhinovirus binding to cells and disrupts infection and/or modulates inflammatory cytokines that may exacerbate cold symptoms.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C stimulates the immune system. Although vitamin C has been shown to be antiviral and antibacterial, its main action is through the improvement in host resistance.  There have been numerous clinical studies conducted to support the use of vitamin C in the treatment of infectious conditions. Vitamin C is well known for its effects in reducing the frequency, duration and severity of the common cold. It is important to supplement with vitamin C at the onset of symptoms as the levels of vitamin C in the body are quickly depleted during the stress of an infection.

Vitamins A

Vitamin A has been demonstrated to stimulate and/or enhance numerous immune processes, including natural killer cell activity, production of lymphocytes, mononuclear phagocytosis and antibody response. It maintains the health of epithelial cells in the body, which form an important barrier to infection.

Vitamins E

Vitamin E enhances both humoral and cell-mediated immunity. It increases resistance to bacterial infections and decreases levels of lipid peroxides that can also adversely affect immune function.

Vitamin D

Today, vitamin D deficiency is actually one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in developed nations, most likely because the general public has been informed to be afraid of the sun. Vitamin D enhances the immune system to fight both bacterial and viral agents.

Diet and lifestyle

  • Wash hands frequently
  • Rest at least 8 hours each night
  • No smoking
  • Ensure adequate hydration (2-3 litres of water daily)
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid refined sugar and simple carbohydrate
  • Avoid all processed and refined foods
  • Include Manuka honey which is antibacterial
  • Include ginger, herbal teas and soups such as organic homemade chicken or vegetable broths.
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About Naturopathy by Savvas Ioannides
Savvas Ioannides is a Naturopathic, Herbal and GAPS Diet practitioner who studied at Nature Care College in Sydney. Savvas uses holistic and natural therapies including Herbal remedies and Nutrition to boost your vitality and help you achieve optimum levels of health.

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