Learn which herbs, nutrients and homeopathic remedies support Immune health
Getting the flu or flu-like symptoms is not nice as you feel awful. Having a sore throat, congested nose or a relentless cough is not only unpleasant, it can also drain your energy. Today we’ll be sharing the best herbs, nutrients and homeopathic remedies to support Immune health. Discover our top 5 home remedies for flu and supplements you can take to protect yourself from viral infections.
Vitamin C is an important vitamin for the immune system as it helps us make antibodies and immune cells to protect us against viruses and bacteria. Up your food intake of vitamin C by eating kiwis, citrus,green vegetables, cabbage and sauerkraut. For additional supplementation, the recommended daily dose for adults is between 500 – 2,000 mg. You can take up to 10,000 mg when you’re unwell. Be aware that diarrhoea may occur when taking vitamin C at high doses; if this occurs, stop until it subsides and then reduce the dose.
Vitamin A is essential for the integrity of mucous membranes in the body, especially the respiratory system. It stops bacteria and viruses from passing through the lining, causing inflammation and damaging cells. We also need vitamin A to make antibodies to shield us against future infection. Adults require between 700 – 900 mcg of vitamin A per day. You can get vitamin A from orange and yellow vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, oranges), broccoli, spinach, kale, cod liver oil and eggs.
Vitamin D plays a pivotal role in helping our bodies to ward off infection. It helps our T cells (the “soldier” immune cells) to seek out foreign invaders and destroy them. Vitamin D levels tend to dip in the winter months as our sunlight exposure decreases. Low vitamin D can make you prone to infection. It’s best to get a blood test to check your levels before supplementing. The recommended daily dose for adults is 400 – 800 IU; those with low levels may need to supplement between 1000 – 5000 IU per day. Food sources include cod liver oil, hemp oil, flaxseeds, bone broths, mackerel, salmon, Chanterelle mushrooms and egg yolks.
Zinc is a vital mineral required for over 300 processes in the body, including cell growth and repair. We need zinc for our immune systems to work efficiently. It helps our T cells to do their job and protects our cells from viruses. Adults need between 8 – 11 mg per day, however, up to 50 mg per day may be required where there is immune deficiency or illness. Food sources of zinc include oysters, chickpeas, lentils, beans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cashews and almonds.
Probiotics help to restore gut microflora, especially when there is an overgrowth of bad bacteria which may be contributing to lowered immune function. Fermented foods can provide a good source of probiotics; eat kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha and kimchi.
We recommend consulting with a qualified naturopath or nutritionist before self-supplementing as they will be able to advise you on the most appropriate dose for your needs.
Herbs to boost Immune System
Here are some of our favourite Immune-boosting herbs:
- Echinacea is a go-to Immune herb for many people and there’s a good reason why. Echinacea has Immune enhancing and lymphatic properties making it an excellent herb for viral infections. It helps to increase your white blood cell count so your body can fight off infections efficiently.
- Thyme is a fantastic antibacterial and antimicrobial herb which is great for clearing catarrh, coughs and sore throats.
- Elderberry is indicated where there is a virus due to its Immune enhancing and antiviral compounds. This is a nice herb to give to children as a tincture or a wild-crafted elderberry syrup.
- Wild Cherry and Mullein are amazing lung herbs with antitussive and anti-catarrhal properties (to stop you coughing and reduce mucous); both are indicated for dry coughs, pneumonia and influenza.
- Propolis is another great Immune-boosting herb due to its antiviral, antibacterial and antioxidant activity. It helps with most cold and flu-related symptoms including sinus pain and sore throats.
Herbs are best taken as a liquid herbal, tincture, tablet or capsule for therapeutic benefit. A qualified herbalist is able to formulate a liquid herbal specific to you and the symptoms you’re experiencing.
Homeopathic remedies for Immune System
- Aconite is for the sudden onset of symptoms, especially as a result of cold exposure.
- Belladonna is specific for high temperatures.
- Ferrum phos is excellent for the early stages of colds, flu and coughs.
- Kali bich is good for sinus congestion with thick, claggy mucous.
- Nat mur is for when you have a thumping headache, watery dribbly mucous and you want to be left alone.
- Oscillococcinum® is brilliant for both for the prevention and treatment of flu in the winter months, especially for the susceptible elderly. It’s best prescribed either by the homeopathy pharmacy or your homeopath.
- Phosphorus is for those with a cough and fever, with sensitivity to changes in weather, especially storms.
- Rumex is perfect for a spasmodic and relentless cough.
5 home remedies to relieve flu symptoms
Simple home remedies can be very effective for relieving flu symptoms. Here’s 5 we recommend:
1. Salt water gargles are perfect for sore throats. Use Himalayan salt as it contains less toxins and more minerals.
2. Head saunas/ steam baths. Add 3 – 5 drops of organic lavender essential oil to a bowl of steaming water before bed. Lavender is antiviral, antibacterial and sleep-promoting. It also gives mild pain relief. Avoid using citrus, eucalyptus or tea tree essential oils, especially with children and the sensitive elderly, as these oils are quite strong and can cause sensitivity.
3. Raw honey, lemon, ginger and garlic in hot water and sip. This Immune tea works wonders!
4. Onion syrup (you can also do it with garlic or ginger) to relieve nasal congestion and coughs.
- Cut an onion finely and spread it on a plate.
- Drizzle with raw honey (or maple syrup) and cover it over with a plate.
- Leave for ½ – 1hr so a thin syrup runs from the onion.
- Squeeze the onion to get as much out of the juice as possible
- Discard the onion and save the thin honey/onion juice syrup in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
- Take a teaspoonful as needed either straight on the tongue or in warm water. The syrup will keep in the fridge for a few days.
5. Get a humidifier at home and in the office as central heating dries the air and our mucous membranes. When our mucous membranes are dry, we become more susceptible to pathogens as they can pass through the membranes easier.
Recharge your Immune System
Boost your immune system naturally by topping up on essential nutrients like vitamin D and zinc. Support your body and alleviate flu symptoms with herbs and homeopathic remedies. Use one of our simple home remedies to soothe a sore throat, clear sinuses and relieve a dry cough. Make your immune health a priority to avoid getting sick.
In our next blog, we’ll be discussing remedies for stress, worry and anxiety.