Unlike many other systems of the body, which have distinct, easily identifiable organs and tissues, the immune system is complex and wide-spread, containing numerous types of cells and tissues that both reside in other tissues and circulate throughout the body. A multi-layered shield for the body, the immune system is incredibly hard-working.
The immune system’s tissues perform diverse roles: The skin serves as a literal barrier to invaders, lymphatic fluid (lymph) continually circulates to rid cells of everyday toxins and lymph nodes serve as filters for the body. And while technically part of the circulatory system, the immune system’s tissues comprise parts of the digestive, endocrine, respiratory and even the skeletal systems. While no system of the body operates autonomously, the immune system has an especially symbiotic relationship with the body’s other systems. The immune system knows no boundaries; its cells go everywhere.
Keeping the immune system in balance is of the utmost importance in all stages of life. As the natural defense system, it is designed to spring into action to support every area of the body. If your body is your castle, your immune system is the soldiers patrolling the perimeter and every corridor within the walls.
Many herbs have traditionally been used to support the immune system.* These botanicals promote a healthy response to stress, support healthy inflammatory responses and promote a naturally healthy microbial balance in the GI tract, among other uses.*
Here are five herbs for immune health.*
Provides deep-level immune support while assisting the body in adapting to daily stress.*
Astragalus (Astragalus spp.) is an herb that has been considered foundational in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Astragalus promotes healthy resistance from the occasional physical and emotional stressors, and it also supports healthy immune functions.* Astragalus also has been used to support the liver and deep immune system (at the cellular level).* This herb is considered an adaptogen, helping support the body’s adrenals by allowing the body to naturally adapt to daily stress.*
Daily immune support for the whole season.*
Black Elderberry is unique in providing both antioxidant and immune support, due to its natural concentration of anthocyanins (the antioxidants that give it that deep purple color) and other flavonoids.* Native Americans used the branches of Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) to make flutes, so it is sometimes called “the tree of music.” Often used to flavor jams, syrups and wine, this tart, bright purple berry provides (delicious!) daily immune support throughout the entire season.*
Supports healthy immune response at onset.*
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea and angustifolia) is perhaps one of the best-known and most extensively studied herbs. It was used for centuries by Native Americans and brought back into popularity in the 1800s. Echinacea, also known as purple coneflower, is used to support acute and continual immune health.* Studies have shown that various parts of different Echinacea species are active in different ways; that’s why they are used together.* Echinacea supports a healthy immune response at onset.*
Supports immune function while also offering antioxidant support.*
While much attention is given to the heart-supporting aspects and antioxidant support of olives and olive oil, Olive leaf (Olea europaea) also helps maintain immune function with antioxidant support.* Olive leaf‘s active constituent, called oleurpein, also supports cardiovascular health.*
Supports healthy digestive flora and is a natural antioxidant source.*
In addition to centuries of use in kitchens across Europe, Oregano has enjoyed an equally long history of supporting a healthy immune response.* A natural antioxidant source, Oregano contains phytochemicals that support the body’s natural resistance.* Oregano’s volatile oils help support the healthy microbiome in the intestines and a healthy immune response.* In Greek, Oregano (Origanum vulgare) means “joy of the mountain,” as the herb prefers higher elevations in the Mediterranean region.