You likely know all about Black Elderberry and Echinacea for the immune system.* Beyond that duo, there are plenty more herbs that can be supportive.* From Andrographis to Vervain, Olive Leaf to Oil of Oregano, find out how much you know about 11 other herbs for immune function.*
These herbs are often used in our formulations alongside those that might be more familiar.
Andrographis leaf has been primarily studied to support immune system health at onset by supporting healthy levels of immune cells in the blood.* In Ayurveda, Andrographis is known as the “king of bitters,” and in Traditional Chinese medicine, it has long been considered to be bitter and “cold.” We use it in both Quick Defense® and Turmeric Supreme Immune A.S.A.P.
A foundational herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Astragalus Root (Huang Qi) supports healthy resistance from the occasional physical and emotional stressors and supports healthy immune functions.(1)* It has long been used to support deep immune and liver functions as well as help the body naturally adapt to stress.* In studies, Astragalus has been shown to support the integrity of mucous membranes and epithelial cells in the respiratory tract.* We include it in many deep immune formulations.
Goldenseal root was popularized by the Eclectics, who learned about the plant from the Native Americans in the 19th century. This herb also tonifies the mucous tissues of the respiratory, GI and urinary tracts. It also maintains a healthy response to environmental stressors while supporting the digestive process.* In addition, the herb supports normal secretion of mucosal tissues, including the nose and eyes.* It is often paired with Echinacea in our formulations.
Another herb commonly used by Native Americans, Grindelia supports the respiratory system and assists in the normal production and elimination of mucous.* It also provides soothing support to an irritated respiratory tract.* Modern herbalists use this herb to support the lungs and surrounding tissue, and we include it in Bronchial Wellness and Black Elderberry Nighttime syrups.*
More than a sweet treat, Honey is often used to support the upper respiratory system.* Its demulcent properties allow it to coat the mouth, throat and mucosal tissues.* We use it in our GaiaKids® syrups!
Highly valued in Japanese and Chinese traditional medicine for the support of the immune system, Maitake mushrooms are a fungi that perennially grows in the same place, if undisturbed.* In Japanese, it is called “Hen of the Woods,” and it was used as currency during Japan’s feudal era. It is commonly used to provide cellular immune support.*
Another wood fungus, Reishi has been used in Japanese medicine for over 2,000 years. In Chinese medicine, Reishi is considered a tonic.* In modern times, this mushroom is used to support the immune system at the cellular level.* It gets paired up with its fungi brethren, Maitake, in our Deep Liver Support, which provides immune support for liver health.*
In addition to centuries of use in the kitchen across Europe and the Mediterranean, Oregano has enjoyed an equally long history of supporting a healthy immune response.* A natural antioxidant source, Oil of Oregano contains phytochemicals that support the body’s natural resistance.* Our supercritical CO2 extract of Oregano volatile oils contains phenols, including carvacrol and thymol. These oils help support a naturally microbial environment in the intestines and a healthy immune response.*
While much attention is given to the antioxidant support of olives and olive oil, Olive Leaf also provides antioxidant support.* Olive Leaf’s active constituent, called oleurpein, has been shown in recent studies to support immune system function. (3)* We use fresh-picked whole Olive Leaf, which is then gently concentrated to provide a healthy immune response.*
A member of the carrot family, Osha root has a long history of use by Native Americans.* Native to the Rocky Mountain region, the herb promotes the health of the upper respiratory system by supporting its mucous membranes.* It also supports healthy function of the immune system.* Osha contains a number of volatile oils, including camphor.
With its small purple-blue flowers, Vervain is also known as American or Blue Vervain (or Simpler’s Joy). This herb was popular in early American herbalism, and it has enjoyed renewed interest for its support of the upper respiratory system.* Vervain also supports normal relaxation of tension from day-to-day life and promotes a healthy mood.*
(1) Batch, Phyllis A., CNC. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Fifth edition. New York. Avery; 2010.
(2) Bisignano G, et al. J Pharm Pharmacol. Aug 1999;51(8):971-4.