Still fighting off cold and flu? Illness can strike at any time, so give your immune system a helping hand with some essential vitamins and supplements. Here's our pick of the best herbal health remedies designed to keep your immune system fighting fit all-year-round.
Sick and tired of fighting off cold and flu? Whether you're burning the candle at both ends, or your immune system is at an all time low, there are some simple steps you can take to give your immune system the help it needs to protect your body against nasty illness.
We asked our pharmacists which vitamins, supplements and herbal remedies help to boost your immune system the natural way.
How does the immune system work?
The immune system is a complex network of cells, chemicals, tissues and organs that constantly protects your body against pathogens, viruses, toxins and bacteria, that can potentially invade the body and make you sick.
It identifies these ‘invading pathogens’ by triggering an immune response, with the goal of restoring your body’s immunity to a normal healthy function.
Many people assume that when they get sick, it's their body's way of telling them that they have a weak immune system. In actual fact, it’s a sign that your body's immune system is fighting off the illness. It's doing exactly what it's supposed to do. Your symptoms are an ‘immune response’, indicating that your immune system is working hard to protect you and keep you healthy.
We come into contact with germs, including bacteria and viruses every day. A healthy immune system works hard to stop you getting sick from these germs. It recognises these harmful substances, then triggers an immune response to defend itself as soon as these germs enter the body.
Your immune system firstly tries to flush the virus or infection out of the body (i.e. a cough or cold), and then tells your white blood cells to attack the foreign invaders, to prevent them from causing any further harm.
So why do I seem to get ill when others don't?!
A number of factors, including certain lifestyle choices, can affect your immune system. Each person’s immune response differs from one person to the next — some people have a more balanced immune response, while others do not.
The best way to avoid getting ill is to keep your immune system as healthy as possible. You can do this simply by making healthy lifestyle choices — like eating nutritious foods, getting optimal sleep and exercising.
How do you keep your immune system healthy?
You may not have much control over how your immune system functions, but there are a few things you can do to keep it balanced and working efficiently.
First and foremost, try sticking to a healthy lifestyle. It's the first (and most effective) step you can take to encourage your immune system to work the way it’s supposed to.
Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when it’s protected against harmful environmental assaults. Here are a few tips to keep your body and your immune system in great shape:
- don’t smoke
- eat a heathy, balanced diet that’s high in fruits and vegetables
- exercise regularly
- maintain a healthy weight
- drink alcohol in moderation
- get at least 7-8 hours’ sleep per night
Research has proven that supplementing the body with specific vitamins, minerals, herbs and other substances may also boost immune response and potentially protect against infections and illnesses.
It’s important to note that these supplements may interact with any prescription or over-the-counter medications that you are taking. Some supplements may not be suitable for those with existing health conditions. If you’re unsure, talk with your healthcare provider before you start your course.
Want to know which herbs to look out for? These are the healing ingredients your body needs to protect itself from illness.
Herbal remedies that protect against illness
Andrographis is a plant that's typically used as a pain killer and to reduce fever — which is why it’s commonly used to treat colds and flu. In combination with Siberian Ginseng, it may improve or speed up recovery if taken within 72 hours of feeling sick. Studies show that Andrographis promotes a healthy immune system by supporting levels of immune cells in the blood. It's been proven to help prevent illness and help alleviate the symptoms of cold and flu.
Beforeyouspeak Immunity Coffee 14 Serves
Ethical Nutrients Immuzorb Immune Defence 30 Tablets
BioCeuticals ArmaForce 120 Tablets
A herbal supplement commonly used to strengthen the immune system, as well as treat or prevent the common cold, respiratory infections, bacteria and viruses. Astragalus may increase white blood cells, which are vital parts of your immune system responsible for preventing illness.
Thompson's Astraforte 80 Tablets
KI Immune Defence Forte 30 Tablets
Swisse Lung Health Support 90 Tablets
Black Elderberry comes from the Sambucus tree. In folk medicine the dried berries or juice are used to treat influenza, infections, sciatica, headaches, dental pain, heart pain and nerve pain. It’s also used as a laxative and diuretic. The extract of the berries have been proven to reduce the severity and length of influenza.
Blackmores Vitamin C + Elderberry Gummies 120 Pack
Sambucol Immune Defence Forte High Strength 30 Capsules
Pentavite Daily Immune Support Kids Gummies 60 Pastilles
One of the most common over-the-counter herbal remedies for cold and flu. Tests have also shown it can be effective in the treatment of pain, inflammation, migraines and other health issues. Echinacea stimulates the body’s immune system, and if taken during the early stages of cold and flu it will reduce the symptoms.
Blackmores Echinacea Liquid 50mL
Thompson's One-A-Day Echinacea 4000 60 Tablets
Faulding Immune Combat 100 Tablets
Olive Leaf Extract
Olive leaf extract comes from the leaves of the olive plant. The main active ingredient oleuropein contributes to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of olive leaf extract. Traditionally, it's been used to enhance the immune system and help in the management of viral infections. This slows down the process of bacteria and viruses replicating, which allows the body to destroy infectious organisms.
BioCeuticals ArmaForce ImmunoBurst
Eagle Cat's Claw-Echine 60 Tablets
Thompson's One-A-Day Organic Olive Leaf
Shiitake mushroom is a fungus, but its natural extract is used as medicine. Shiitake mushrooms are used for boosting the immune system and many other conditions. The active ingredients in shiitake boost health, longevity and improve circulation. As you age, your immune system tends to weaken. However, the bioactive compounds found in shiitake mushrooms have been shown to help reverse age-related decline in immune function.
VITAL All-In-One Vitamin 300g
Longevity Labs+ SpermidineLIFE Immunity+
Activated Nutrients Top Up 50+ Multivitamin+
Siberian ginseng is a plant whereby the root is typically used in medicine. The active ingredients in Siberian ginseng, called eleutherosides, may stimulate the immune system. It aids in shortening the length of symptoms as well as reduce the risk of flu complications. As suggested above, Siberian Ginseng in combination with Andrographis reduce the severity and length of colds when taken within the first 72 hours of symptoms starting.
Ethical Nutrients Ginseng 5 Exhaustion Relief 60 Capsules
Martin & Pleasance He Focus & De-Stress Formula 60 Tablets
Ethical Nutrients Megazorb Mega Magnesium Powder Raspberry 200g
This hero superfood has been heralded for relieving pain and inflammation. By reducing inflammation, it helps to shorten symptom length, provide pain relief as well as exhibiting anti-viral replication effects.
Ethical Nutrients Pain Relief 30 Capsules
Cenovis Turmeric 3100 80 Capsules
Thompson's Turmeric Joint Support 30 Tablets
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin — meaning your body can’t produce it naturally, so it has to be taken as a supplement to take advantage of its multiple health benefits. Vitamin C is one of the most common and powerful antioxidants that can strengthen your body’s natural defences. Vitamin C helps encourage the increase in the production of white blood cells also known as lymphocytes and phagocytes, which aid in the protection of the body from infection.
Bioglan Vitamin C 1000mg 50 Tablets
Ener-C 1000mg Vitamin C Lemon Lime 12 Sachets
Brauer Baby & Kids Liquid Vitamin C 100mL
Zinc has also been found to help produce and activate T-cells (t-lymphocytes), which trigger the body to respond to infections. Zinc helps control infections by gently tapping the brakes on the immune response in a way that prevents out-of-control inflammation that can be damaging. Zinc also helps symptoms such as nasal congestion, nasal drainage, sore throat, and cough resolve sooner.
IMUNI Immune Defence 60 Capsules
Bio Island Zinc 120 Chewable Tablets
Life-Space Digestive Enzymes 60 Capsules
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