This article is taken from my Higher Nature herbal Account and it is help and advice on how you may want to boost your immune system. Prevention is better than cure.
There is a range of immune supporting supplements and I am sure you are aware of the most common ones, namely vitamins C, D, zinc and probiotics. However, there are also several other nutrients that are less well known but are particularly supportive of the immune system such as olive leaf extract, beta – (1,3-1,6) – D-glucans and grapefruit seed extract.
Vitamin C is widely researched in its ability to regulate the immune system and has long been used for the treatment of colds and flu. It has been found to shorten the length of a cold and in trials was shown to prevent pneumonia. A number of studies have also demonstrated its anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. (2)
Vitamin D plays a large role in the health of the body and especially in boosting immunity. As many of your clients may be deficient, especially during the winter months, supplementation is always advised for everyone. A deficiency has been implicated in immune system dysfunction and optimal doses have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects as well as enhancing the natural substances in the body that help fight infection, according to one 2018 study. (3) The British Medical Journal also found that supplementing with Vitamin D reduced the risk of respiratory infections. (4)
Also well known in supporting immune function, zinc helps regulate the pathways between the immune cells and is known for being both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant as reported in Nutrients journal. (5) It plays a key role in the body and deficiency has been implicated in many illnesses. (6)
Beta – (1,3-1,6) – D-glucans is branded as Wellmune® which is derived from a proprietary blend of yeast known Saccharomyces cerevisiae, with many research studies to demonstrate its effectiveness on immunity. It works in the body by helping to prime the immune system by binding to the immune cells. This means that any pathogen is identified and killed off more quickly. A study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition showed that supplementing with Beta – (1,3-1,6) – D-glucans can reduce the duration and severity of respiratory tract infections. (7) In addition a 2010 study also showed a reduction on both upper respiratory tract symptoms as well as an improved mood state and increased energy levels. (8) Not only do they help support the immune system but may also help with your clients suffering from higher levels of stress, especially with the current fears felt by many people at the moment.
Olive leaf extract is a lesser known supplement which may also assist immune function. Oleuropein is a polyphenolic compound from the leaves of the olive tree. It is thought to have many health promoting benefits, specifically anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activities, as reported in the Journal of Medicinal Food. (9) Another study in Scientia Pharmaceutica reviewed its pharmacological components, showing it to have anti-viral properties. (10).
We know that good health begins in the gut with 70% of our immune system located in the microbiome. Probiotics will provide extra support to optimise gut health and keep the immune system functioning well. A study in BioMed Research International suggested that probiotics have the ability to prevent certain pathologies and certain strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium play important roles in immunity by potentiating the function of natural killer cells in the body. (11)
Grapefruit seed extract, available in liquid form to be diluted with water, is also known to have a variety of uses. A study in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine that it may be effective particularly as an anti-fungal, anti-microbial and anti-viral (12). It has also shown to be effective as a disinfectant agent against some bacteria and viruses, according to a 2019 study. (13)
Colloidal Silver is thought to have antibacterial properties due to its silver ions which bind to the DNA of bacteria and preventing them from spreading. Before the invention of antibiotics, it was used to treat and prevent infections.
Diet and lifestyle approaches
As with all nutritional protocols, the approach has to be multi-faceted. Even though supplements are important, they work alongside the diet and lifestyle in helping your clients to stay well and maximise their immune system function. Encourage a wide range of vegetables and fruits to ensure the benefits of the vitamins and minerals they have to offer, alongside whole grains and good sources of protein, which helps provide the amino acids needed to build immune cells. It may also be helpful to include turmeric and garlic in the diet as both may have immune boosting properties. Turmeric, specifically its compound curcumin, has been used in Eastern medicine for centuries due to its health promoting benefits. It has grown in popularity in recent years as a supplement and has been shown to play an important role in preventing and treating various illnesses, according to a 2017 study. (14) Garlic is also known to contain properties that may have a positive role on the immunity of the body. One study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that when consumed as a supplement for a 90 day period, it reduced the symptoms of cold and flu. (15)
Consumption of refined carbohydrates, sugar and alcohol should be minimal as they are highly inflammatory and can lower the body’s defences.
In terms of lifestyle, adequate rest is essential for the immune system as it gives the body time to repair so ensure your clients implement good sleep hygiene. At times like these, when stress levels tend to be high, encouraging relaxation activities and taking steps to lower stress is just as important in helping to stay well and bolster immunity.
- The World Health Organization.
- Hemilä., ‘Vitamin C and Infections’. (2017) Nutrients 9(4) 339
- Sassi, et al., ‘Vitamin D: Nutrient, Hormone and Immunomodulator’ (2018) Nutrients 10 (11)
- Martineau, et al., ‘Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data’ (2017) British Medical Journal 356:i6583
- Wessels et al., ‘Zinc as a Gatekeeper of Immune Function’ (2017) Nutrients (9) 12
- Sanna et al., ‘Zinc Status and Autoimmunity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis’ (2018) Nutrients (10) 1
- Dharsono et al., ‘Effects of Yeast (1,3)-(1,6)-Beta-Glucan on Severity of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study in Healthy Subjects’ (2019) Journal of the American College of Nutrition 38(1), 40-50
- Talbott et al., ‘Baker’s Yeast Beta-Glucan Supplement Reduces Upper Respiratory Symptoms and Improves Mood State in Stressed Women’ (2013) Journal of the American College of Nutrition 31 (4) 295-300
- Qabaha et al., ‘Oleuropein Is Responsible for the Major Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Olive Leaf Extract’ (2018) Journal of Medicinal Food 21 (3) 302-305
- Omar., ‘Oleuropein in Olive and its Pharmacological Effects’ (2010) Scientia Pharmaceutica 78 (2) 133-154
- Azad et al., ‘Immunomodulatory Effects of Probiotics on Cytokine Profiles’ (2018) BioMed Research International eCollection
- Heggers et al., ‘The Effectiveness of Processed Grapefruit-Seed Extract as An Antibacterial Agent: II. Mechanism of Action and In Vitro Toxicity’ (2004) The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 8 (3)
- Komura et al., ‘Inhibitory Effect of Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) on Avian Pathogens’ (2019) Journal of Veterinary Medical Science 81(3) 466-472
- Kocaadam et al., ‘Curcumin, an Active Component of Turmeric (Curcuma Longa), and Its Effects on Health’ Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 57 (13) 2889-2895
- Percival., ‘Aged Garlic Extract Modifies Human Immunity’ (2016) The Journal of Nutrition 146 (2) 433S-436S