With immunity being a hot topic and even more so as we move into the winter season, we have put together some information on medicinal herbs that can help give your immune system a boost!
Whether it's for cold and flu symptoms, recurring infections or just generally to help with prevention, there's usually a plant for most ailments! Some of these you may find in your pantry or garden, others you may need to seek a qualified naturopath or medical herbalist for a prescription. These are typically either in a tincture blend, or in capsules as part of practitioner supplements.
In this second and last blog out of two, we will focus primarily on medicinal herbs for recurring infections, especially UTIs as well as for extra general immune support.
Bearberry is commonly and traditionally used to treat UTIs. It is an astringent herb that provides anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial activity, specifically in the urinary tract and bladder.
It has shown to be particularly useful in combatting H. pylori and Staphylococcus aureus, not just in the urinary system but also in the digestive system on mucous membranes, as indicated in its cooling and drying/astringent energetics.
It should be noted that bearberry is not recommended for long-term use and not safe for use in children and pregnancy.
Cornsilk is commonly used to assist renal and urinary problems safe for both children as well as adults. It provides a soothing, diuretic effect on the urinary tract to help with UTIs and any other cause of irritation or inflammation of the urinary system. Similar to the energetics of bearberry, cornsilk is also both cooling and drying/astringent.
Also traditionally said to be helpful especially for children in the case of bedwetting. Other traditional uses include kidney stones, bladder infections and prostate inflammation, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Cornsilk can be taken as tea or in a herbal tincture and is best used acutely rather than longterm.
Goldenrod is also useful in the treatment of UTIs due to its diuretic properties. It is known to be anti-inflammatory and anti-septic. It is energetically drying and warming.
It's astringent properties help to tone mucous membranes and prevent infection from getting deeper into tissues hence why it is helpful for urinary system infections as it does this while helping to flush out bacteria.
This plant is also traditionally used to treat inflammation of the mouth and throat. With its anti-cattarhal properties it can also be useful for excess mucous in the respiratory system.
Olive leaf extract is commonly used for its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties to fight infection of bacterial and viral origins.
It has also been shown to help with issues like yeast infections as well as viral infections such as herpes virus. Its traditional uses include supporting cardiovascular health, namely in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.
Olive leaf is rich in antioxidants to help protect the body against oxidative stress while supporting a healthy immune response.
Holy basil, also known as tulsi, is an Ayurvedic herb with many uses. Mostly known for its adaptogenic properties to protect the body from stress, it is also used for its immune-boosting and anti-microbial properties.
Its other traditional uses include lowering cholesterol, being cardio-protective, a nervine tonic, neuro-protective as well as general support for common colds and flus, especially where stress may be a major factor in inhibiting the immune response.
Holy basil is typically taken as a tea or in herbal tincture form.
Garlic, commonly used in cooking but also commonly known to boost the immune system and for its anti-microbial properties effective against bacteria, viruses, fungi and some parasites.
It can be used generally as both treatment and prevention for most infectious conditions, both digestive and respiratory such as chronic bronchitis, catarrh, recurrent colds and influenza. A very warming herb, garlic is great for those with colder constitutions.
Other traditional and known uses for garlic include lowering blood pressure, and cholesterol after consistent use as well as having liver protecting actions by preventing glutathione depletion.
That brings us to an end of the herbs for immunity two-part blog series! Hopefully it was highly informative and helped you to learn more about the different properties of plants and how they can aid in better immune health -- even the ones that live in our pantries! Food really is medicine, after all.
Remember to use medicinal herbs under guidance. Natural does not always equate to safe! If in doubt, get in touch with a qualified naturopath and medical herbalist for more information and help when it comes to dosing, contraindications and drug and herb interactions.