Our immune systems should be given consideration all year round, and, in light of the ongoing concerns around Coronavirus, one expert is advising how you can keep it fighting fit. Euan MacLennan, Herbal Director at Pukka Herbs and Medical Herbalist at a London-based NHS practice, explained that during the seasons, our body can be challenged by viruses and bacteria, both of which cause infections, albeit of a different sort, but that we have in-built defence mechanisms that protect us from invasion: our immune system and its many complex components.
He advised that every day, we each inhale more than 100m different bacteria, according to the Medical Research Council, and to stop the infectious invaders, we each have about 30m unique antibodies, each programmed to recognise a single known bacterium, plus millions more ‘naïve’ antibodies waiting to attack previously unknown bacteria.
Whilst our immune system is designed to fight off viruses, sometimes it can be helpful to support it against new challenges and ensure we are as robust as possible at times when infections are active in the community, including the use of some top herbs. These include:
•Echinacea: A renowned immune tonic with some very interesting research, echinacea can be particularly helpful for fighting infections of the respiratory tract. It may have a preventative action but also help relieve symptoms and speed recovery.
•Elderberries: Bursting with brightly coloured pigments that act as natural antioxidants, elderberries are a natural source of vitamin C. Elderberry is a powerful fruit shown to ‘de-activate’ viruses, helping to stop them spreading through the body. It may also help the immune system in a similar way to echinacea.
•Vitamin C: Well-known for supporting our immune function, vitamin C plays an important role by improving the activity of some white blood cells such as ‘natural killer cells’, allowing our immune system to communicate and co-ordinate its attack against viruses.
•Andrographis: Traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to promote the production of antibodies and reduce the severity of infection, andrographis contains compounds that rally the immune system to fight effectively against invaders such as viruses.
•Mushrooms: There are approximately 400 species of fungi that have been identified with medicinal properties, and many have antiviral, antimicrobial or anti-inflammatory qualities. Mushrooms are high in beta glucans, natural substances found to help ‘prime’ our immune system, making sure it’s ready for action to fight off infection. They can be easily added into your diet through daily doses of supplements.