Throughout human history, herbs have been used as natural remedies to provide immune support. They have been used extensively in healing traditions across the globe, from Chinese and Aruyvedic to European, African and American healing traditions.
Many immune support herbs are widely promoted and available in health food stores in capsules, teas and tinctures. Among the more prominent are echinacea and herbs that contain berberine – golden seal, Oregon grape, barberry and goldenthread. Also familiar is licorice root, with astralagus, honeysuckle and olive leaf gaining recognition and popularity.
Immune support can also be gained through herbs that are common in the American cuisine. Here are four that you will recognize as common foods, although they are also known and valued for their ability to support immune system function.
Black Elderberry. Culinary uses of elderberry include jams, wines and syrups, but it also has a long history of use in the healing traditions of several cultures. Elderberry’s flowers, bark, roots and leaves are all used medicinally. The berries’ anthocyanins, which give it the rich dark purple color, and other flavonoids are most beneficial. Its popularity for immune support is growing rapidly.
Garlic. The culinary uses for garlic are too numerous to mention, but we all know it as a kitchen staple. Its use in Medieval times to guard against the plague may have worked not because it was worn around the neck but because those who wore it ate quite a bit of it! Immune supporting chemical compounds in garlic include allicin, which is released when garlic is crushed, chopped or chewed. It is being studied for its effectiveness in several areas contributing to overall health.
Ginger. Whether in tea, soda, fresh, dried, candied or pickled, ginger is extremely popular in the culinary traditions of many cultures, particularly Indian and Chinese. It is known as a warming herb, believed to help break down toxins and cleanse the system. It contains gingerol, a compound that is a major constituent of fresh ginger. Although tasty, ginger exerts most of its effectiveness further along in the digestive tract, wherein lies the foundation of most of our immune system.
Oregano. Another culinary staple, oregano contains carvacrol and thymol, powerful compounds that provide health benefits. The extracted oil is especially valued for its healing properties. Hundreds of scientific studies reference carvacrol for its health benefits. Oregano’s volatile oils and phytochemicals support a healthy intestinal microbiome, contributing to a good balance of micro-organisms and supporting healthy immune system function.
Whether you prefer teas, tinctures, pills or capsules, immune supporting herbs should be a regular part of your health routine, and it would be wise to increase their use during times when your immune system may be challenged.
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