Included in this article is current research concerning herbs, botanicals and other plant products that may be natural immune system boosters; this is by no means a complete list.
Doctors, scientists and researchers are continuously investigating new information and discovering new immune system stimulants.
A complete immune strengthening system must begin with basic good health habits.
Growing up, we were told to wash our hands before we eat, but maybe not before we touched our faces. No matter what immune system boosters you use, you will be more likely to pick up viruses or bugs if you do not wash your hands before you touch your face, mouth, nose or eyes.
The next important step in an immune boosting system is proper nutrition. Taking a vitamin C supplement, one of the common immune system stimulants, is not enough. If you do not get enough calcium and/or magnesium, then the cells of your body may not be able to absorb the vitamin C. If you take an iron supplement, but not a vitamin C supplement, then the cells of your body may not be able to absorb the iron.
Vitamins and minerals work together.
As part of an immune strengthening system, a complete multi-vitamin will be more beneficial than a single vitamin supplement alone. A daily multi-vitamin will also insure that you are getting adequate nutrition. We do not always eat the right foods in the right combination every day. Multi-vitamins are insurance against inadequate nutrition and natural immune system boosters.
You must get enough rest in order for the systems of your body to work properly. So the next factor for immune strengthening is a good night's sleep. Studies have shown what our mothers knew; most people need 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night for good health. Any conditions that interrupt a full night of sleep on a consistent basis need to be addressed before other immune system stimulants can work properly.
So far we have good health habits, a daily multi-vitamin and proper rest in our immune strengthening system.
The next items are to be avoided, in order to get the most out of immune system stimulants and a complete immune strengthening system; stress and smoking. While short term stress, such as playing sports or dealing with an immediate threat, releases chemicals into the body that are temporary immune system stimulants, numerous studies have shown that chronic stress, resulting from a high pressure job, a troubled relationship or other factors, blunts immune system reactions. If you cannot reduce the chronic stress in your life then your need for natural immune system stimulants, such as herbs and botanicals is greater.
If you smoke, vitamin C is leeched from the body. You are more likely to develop upper respiratory infections. Your immune system is busy trying to counteract the effects of smoking, so efforts to create an immune strengthening system will probably not be work.
Everyone can benefit from immune system boosters, but those who work or live in a hospital or nursing home, people who work with the public, have children in school, college students or even those who eat out frequently are exposed to hundreds of different viruses and are at higher risk of developing infections. Immune system stimulants and a complete immune strengthening system are particularly important for these people.
Stimulants containing Beta Glucans, found in the cell walls of oats, yeast, barley, edible mushrooms and other plants, have been the subject of numerous scientific and clinical studies. One showed that people using these immune system boosters had an increased number of helper T-cells circulating in the blood stream. Helper T-cells are specialized white blood cells that identify viruses and other things that do not belong in the body and notify killer T-cells to destroy those things. Beta-glucan supplementation can be an effective part of a complete immune strengthening system.
Immune boosters such as the herb Andrographis Paniculata or AP for short can also be an effective component in an immune strengthening system. AP has a history of use in traditional Chinese medicine for the effective treatment of infection, cold, fever and inflammation. Scientists who study herbs used in traditional medicine have shown that AP may be effective for the treatment of influenza, by reducing recovery time and the risk of complications. While some herbs used as immune system boosters may be toxic when used for extended periods of time, AP has been shown in animal studies to have very low or no toxicity.
Green tea, Siberian ginseng, piperine and olive leaf have also been shown to be effective immune system boosters for the body.