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3 essential herbs to support your immune system
HERBAL MEDICINE NUTRITION

3 essential herbs to support your immune system

Used by ancient healers through to modern-day herbalists, herbs have always played an important role in building resistance and supporting healthy immune systems, particularly through the cold and flu season. Many herbs which were popular centuries ago are still as popular today. Below are just a few herbs that may help to keep your immune system strong and keep those cold and flu symptoms at bay.

Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata)

Andrographis paniculata, a traditional Ayurvedic herb, is highly valued in India for its medicinal properties. Because it grows so abundantly in hedgerows and gardens, the plant is commonly used as a household remedy by locals. Often referred to as ‘the king of bitters’ the herb has also gained popularity in both Western Herbal Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for its affinity for the immune system.  When used in TCM, Andrographis paniculata, may help to reduce excess chest phlegm and coughs, similarly, in Western herbal medicine the herb is used to aid in reducing the symptoms of common cold and flu, while also supporting over all immune health.

While it has a wide array of traditional uses, Andrographis paniculata is now recommended and used widely in modern times to aid in the treatment of common colds & flu, helping to relieve the severity of symptoms such as cough, runny nose and fevers. Taken at the first onset of symptoms, Andrographis helps to improve the immune response and shorten the duration of common colds and flus, helping you to get back on your feet sooner.

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)

Astragalus membranaceus is one of the most important herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. There are many species of Astragalus, over 2,000 in fact, however most herbal supplements utilise the species Astragalus membranaceus. The root of the plant is used as it contains the majority of the active plant compounds responsible for the medicinal actions.

Used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the herb’s main benefits are centered around immune support and vitality. Modern Western herbal medicine still uses the herb for such indications, including relieving the symptoms and reducing the duration of the common cold. It is also a highly regarded herb used to assist with recovery after illness.

Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum)

Not only are mushrooms known for their culinary uses and nutritional value, some have been used for their medicinal properties throughout history and across many cultures. The most valued medicinal mushrooms generally come from Asia. Ganoderma lucidum is a species of mushroom which grows throughout the world and is typically found growing at the base of living trees. With its kidney shaped caps and fan-like appearance, it can be found on its own or in small colonies.

In China, Ganoderma lucidum is known as ‘Lingzhi’ and has been prized for its immune enhancing properties for over 2000 years, this popularity quickly spread throughout the world. Today, it is commonly known as Reishi mushroom, a name given to the mushroom by the Japanese. Ganoderma lucidum naturally contains many active compounds which are responsible for enhancing the body’s natural immune response.

Enjoy the changing seasons

These are just a few of the many herbs offering immune support to keep us strong through the colder months. Find a herb that works for you, eat well and exercise and rug up to enjoy the cooler months ahead.
Felicity Downes-Casipit
Author

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