The immune system is exactly that—a system, not a single entity. It’s a complex network of organs and cells that require balance and harmony to ward off viruses, bacteria, and disease.
So today we’re going to discuss natural plant herbs that have played a significant role in boosting immunity and maintaining human health for thousands of years. We’ll also cover how you can take self-care into your own hands by what you eat, drink, think and do.
In particular, this guide on how to boost immunity will walk through:
- The benefits of herb supplements for immunity and wellness.
- Plant-based essential oils and other wellness products to empower your health.
- Example morning-to-evening, mind-body wellness plan for boosting immunity.
Role of Plant Herbs in Boosting Immunity
Avocado oil is packed with nutrients and phytochemicals that are vital for increasing immunity and maintaining a healthy wellness regimen.
According to a review in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, avocado oil is loaded with vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, and folate.
These essential vitamins and minerals have a range of health and immunity benefits including removing heavy metals and detoxifying the body; fighting stress; promoting healthy blood pressure; and lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Avocado oil is also full of life-sustaining fatty acids that encourage healthy blood lipid profiles and enhance the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and phytochemicals. Plus, avocado oil already has a number of bioactive phytochemicals that have anti-cancer and disease-fighting properties.
The superfood is also high in Lutein, an antioxidant that controls inflammatory stress, as well as other oxygen-containing fat-soluble antioxidants that may reduce age-related DNA damage, gum disease, and symptoms of arthritis.
Turmeric is a natural spice that contains the chemical curcumin known for decreasing swelling and inflammatory stimuli and boosting immunity.
The immunomodulatory effects of curcumin include its impact on lymphoid cell populations, antigen presentation, humoral and cell-mediated immunity, and cytokine production.
Curcumin also has a positive impact on low-level inflammation or “chronic inflammation.” This type of inflammation is often seen in long-lasting infections and abnormal immune responses. Prolonged periods of inflammation forces our immune system to go into overdrive.
An overworked immune system puts stress on our arteries and organs, hinders the natural absorption of nutrients, and makes it difficult to fight off disease. Thus, because of its anti-inflammatory benefits, turmeric is integral to boosting immunity and maintaining a wellness plan.
Ashwagandha is a herbal plant that may reduce levels of fat and sugar in the blood.
Its positive effect on blood sugar levels is associated with decreased inflammation and pain, lower blood pressure, more positive mental states, and improved immune system functioning.
Today, Ashwagandha is used as a wellness supplement to fight arthritis, stress and anxiety, mood disorders, ADHD, insomnia, tumors, tuberculosis, asthma, skin conditions, bronchitis, backache, fibromyalgia, menstrual problems, hiccups, Parkinson’s disease, hypothyroidism, and chronic liver disease.
Reishi mushroom is an immunity-boosting fungus that is widely used to fight infections, cancer tumors, and aging-related issues.
The mushroom is commonly made into powder or used as extracts to make wellness supplements and other products.
For example, Reishi mushroom extracts, in combination with other wellness supplements, has been successful in preventing and recovering from viral infections including HPV, genital herpes, and cold sores.
Astragalus, one of the most popular health-promoting herbal medicines, is known for boosting immunity and delivering cardiovascular benefits.
One of the major active ingredients in Astragalus root, polysaccharide, has historically been used as an immunomodulating agent to combat disease.
In addition to immunomodulation, polysaccharide has many other important bioactivities including antioxidant, antitumor, anti-diabetes, antiviral, hepatoprotection, anti-inflammation, anti-atherosclerosis, hematopoiesis, and neuroprotective properties.
Because of its vast bioactive components and health benefits, the dried root of Astragalus is widely used in immunity supplements today to neutralize free radicals and treat upper respiratory infections and the influenza virus (aka the flu).
Ginger is a spice that comes from the Zingiber officinale plant. Biomolecular and clinical evidence demonstrates ginger’s effectiveness in preventing and treating a variety of pathologic conditions.
The medicinal remedy is well-recognized as a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, and anticancer agent. As a strong antioxidant, ginger helps curb free radical activity, which is responsible for causing various diseases.
Fennel is a pleasant-smelling herb that has positive protective effects against disease conditions and viruses. Fennel helps in boosting immunity by producing antibodies against contagious viral diseases.
Some infectious viruses it combats include the flu and other virus strains that attack the respiratory, nervous and/or digestive systems.
Milk Thistle Extract
Milk thistle is a plant herb native to Europe that is known to inhibit growth of certain tumors, repair liver damage, and lower blood sugar. It’s also widely used for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
More recently, milk thistle extract was found to have robust immunostimulatory effects. An investigation into the effects of Milk Thistle on the immune system concluded the extract is beneficial in improving immunity to infectious diseases.
Plus, the immune system benefits in the study increased in response to higher doses of milk thistle extract.
Chamomile is a traditional medicinal herb in the Asteraceae plant family that is native to western Europe, India, and western Asia.
The herb is loaded with powerful antioxidants called apigenin. It also has anti-inflammatory and anxiolytic (aka anti-anxiety) properties that aid sleep, relaxation, and stomach issues.
Its positive impact on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, in particular, plays a big role in improving immunity. Why? Because 70% of our immune cells live along our GI tract. These are the cells responsible for secreting antibodies and destroying harmful bacteria.
But don’t take our word for it. A series of studies have shown that drinking chamomile increases antibacterial activity. Drinking chamomile is also tied with decreased hypertensive symptoms and systolic blood pressure.
The diverse range of bioactive phytochemicals and therapeutic effects of chamomile all play a role in boosting immunity and lowering the risk of disease and cancer.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis, Caprifoliaceae) is a perennial flowering plant that has been used as a medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece and Rome.
Today, valerian is one of the most popular herbal sleep aids in Europe and the United States.
Valerian root may increase sleepiness by boosting levels of a neurotransmitter called GABA. GABA may improve overall sleep quality by decreasing nighttime awakenings as well as the time it takes to fall asleep.
And when we sleep well, our bodies are better able to keep inflammation at bay and sustain killer immune cells that combat infection.
Plus, the root may also reduce anxiety and chronic psychological stress, which plays a role in boosting immunity.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a perennial herb from the mint family that is used to make medicine.
Lemon balm has historically been used for anxiety, stress, insomnia, indigestion, dementia, Alzheimer disease, and many other conditions. It also has robust immunostimulating and antioxidant activity.
Lemon balm is able to combat viral infections (e.g cold sores, AIDS, etc.) and acute and chronic disease by increasing both cellular immunity AND humoral immunity (i.e. the body’s antibody and antimicrobial response).
The cannabis plant is like a pot of gold in terms of its ability to bring biological equilibrium to the body and increase infection-fighting immune cell counts.
The cannabis family of plants contains 120+ naturally occurring cannabinoids called phytocannabinoids. These phytocannabinoids mimic our body’s innate endocannabinoids by interacting with our CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors to harmonize diverse physiological functions.
THC has been the focus of the bulk of phytocannabinoid research to date. The popular mind-altering cannabis compound binds to and activates our CB2 receptors. This produces powerful anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects that show promise for autoimmune diseases.
CBD, a powerful non-mind-altering phytocannabinoid, is also considered an immunosuppressant because of its ability to reduce cytokine production and inhibit T-cell function. We’ll jump into more of the benefits of CBD for boosting immunity in the section below.
The cannabis plant has other compounds that positively impact our immune system as well. Beyond cannabinoids, the plant contains various life-sustaining terpenes, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, and chlorophyll.
These wellness supplements work in harmony to keep our immune system healthy and support blood detoxification, cancer prevention, and energy production.
Through a medical lens, CBD is arguably the most beneficial phytocannabinoid in cannabis for our overall wellness and internal balance.
And with the growing popularity of CBD for immunity, we thought we’d dedicate a section to provide a quick rundown of its health and wellness benefits.
CBD-rich cannabis oil is often compared to a multivitamin and powerful antioxidant because it’s non-psychoactive but has superfood-like impacts on the body and powerful regulatory effects on the entire immune system.
It works by activating various components of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Just a few of the therapeutic benefits of CBD for health and immune defense include:
- Reducing chronic inflammation that increases the risk of disease and infection.
- Regulating the sleep-wake cycle to strengthen the immune system.
- Mitigating stress and anxiety that weakens immune response.
- Slowing the growth of cancer and autoimmune disorders.
Last but certainly NOT least: Vitamin C. Most of us are probably acutely aware of the role Vitamin C plays in maintaining wellness and improving immunity.
A recent study published in Seminars in Preventive and Alternative Medicine that looked at over 100 studies over 10 years revealed a growing list of benefits of vitamin C.
Based on the findings, Vitamin C is vital to longevity and the health of our cardiovascular, brain, eye, and immune systems.
Wellness Supplements: Tying It All Together
We have a range of nutrient-rich wellness products for boosting immunity, including avocado oil tinctures, vitality fast tabs and water tinctures.
Our avocado oil tinctures are cold-pressed in small batches with precise combinations of powerful herbs, spices, strain-specific blends of cannabis-derived terpenes, vitamins, plant-derived nutraceutical compounds, and full-spectrum cannabis oil.
Example Wellness Plan
Improving wellness and boosting immunity entails harmonizing what you think, feel and do. Yes, “you are what you eat” but you also are a product of your mindstate.
So in addition to healthy eating and drinking, you also have to consider exercise, water intake, and stress reduction practices (meditation, friends, etc.) when thinking about “when, where and how to improve immunity.”
For example, meditation increases the blood flow to your brain meaning less fight or flight responses. It also reduces inflammation, cortisol (the stress hormone), blood pressure, and the aging process. So find time for meditation (and, of course, EXERCISE), even if it’s just for 20 minutes each day.
Here’s an example wellness plan for boosting immunity:
- 20 minutes meditation and/or your favorite form of exercise (don’t be afraid to switch things up to avoid habituation!)
- Prepare yourself to accomplish all you set forth in the day ahead with CBD 400 Daytime (includes 400mg CBD + 20mg THC with Turmeric, Reishi Mushroom & Astragalus Extracts & Vitamin C)
- Get lunch with or phone a friend
- Take a 20-minute stroll or “mindfulness/gratitude walk” to get your mind off the “daily grind.”
- Prepare your mind and body for a deep rest with Relief 400 Nighttime (includes 300mg CBD + 100mg THC Chamomile, Lavender & Lemon-Balm Extracts)
- 10 minutes of deep breathing to support stress relief, relaxation, and healthy circulation.
What are your thoughts? Did we leave any important nuggets of information out in regards to boosting immunity and developing a wellness plan? Drop a note in the comments below