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10 Herbs to boost the immune system

In this list, you will find out how 10 simple plant extracts can contribute to support your immune system and make your body’s defenses stronger. We’ve included links to the medical researches on these herbs to boost the immune system.

  1. Graviola Leaf
  2. Raspberry Fruit
  3. Green Tea Extract
  4. Turmeric Rhizome
  5. Pine Bark Extract
  6. Grape Seed
  7. Olive Leaf
  8. Cat’s Claw Bark
  9. Garlic Bulb
  10. Panax Ginseng
  11. Sources

Caitlin S.

Staff Writer

I hold two Bachelor’s of Science degrees in Molecular Biosciences and Psychology from the Pre-Medicine program at Washington State University. I have spent the last decade researching health and lifestyle through an alternative and holistic approach. I love to share my research and ideas with others!

1. Graviola Leaf Powder

The Amazonian rainforest is full of plants which have been used for thousands of years for medicinal benefits. One example is the Graviola tree which produces a prickly bright green fruit. The Graviola fruit has been used as a traditional medicine as is prized for its many health benefits, including its immunity-boosting properties.

All parts of the tree have been found to have health benefits. The leaves are an effective treatment for cystitis, diabetes, headaches, insomnia, inflammation, cancer, and parasitic infections. The fruits are commonly used in food products, including beverages, candy, and syrups.

Researchers have examined the immunity-promoting benefits of Graviola leaves. One study found that Graviola leaf extract contains a high content of phenolic acids and flavonoids and looked to see the relationship between these compounds and the activation of innate immune signaling pathways. The researchers found that Graviola effectively reduced edema and inflammation and led to macrophage activation and a reduction in the production of cytokines. The researchers concluded that Graviola leaf extract stimulates the immune system. Their findings indicated that Graviola leaf extract can effectively be used to boost the innate immune system for immunocompromised patients. Their conclusions recommend using Graviola leaf in “the development of health-promoting functional foods.”

SourceImmunomodulatory Efficacy of Standardized Annona muricata (Graviola) Leaf Extract via Activation of Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Pathways in RAW 264.7 Macrophages (nih.gov)


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2. Raspberry Fruit Powder

Red raspberries can be found in most grocery stores, and many people eat them without considering the many potent health benefits of red raspberries. But these unique berries contain multiple essential micronutrients, dietary fiber, and polyphenolic components. Within the last few decades, red raspberry extract has been marketed as a supplement for both weight-loss and overall health and researchers are finding new information to support not only these claims, but also the benefits of raspberries for boosting immunity as well.
Initial studies have examined the effects of both the whole fruit and of raspberry extracts and found that red raspberry consumption is linked with a lowered risk of metabolic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers noted that these diseases all share some of the same risk factors, including metabolic, oxidative, and inflammatory symptoms. These risk factors are tied to immune function and the production of immune system cells, such as macrophages.
One study examined raspberry extract and its effects on immune functions. They found red raspberries to be anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and metabolic stabilizing. The participants displayed improved lipid levels, vascular function, and functional recovery after brain injury as well as reduced blood pressure and stabilization of diabetic symptoms.

SourceRed Raspberries and Their Bioactive Polyphenols: Cardiometabolic and Neuronal Health Links (nih.gov)

3. Green Tea Extract

People around the world drink green tea for its many health benefits. Green tea has been found to help lower blood sugar levels and new research shows that it may improve physical performance and recovery. While the tea tastes great and is easy to drink, green tea extract has been added to many products, including beauty and hygiene products. An effective treatment for acne, dermatitis, rosacea, and warts, green tea is often added into facial cleaners and skin products. It is good for brain function, liver function, and heart health, and researchers have found that it may help in the treatment of some cancers. Because it lowers and regulates blood sugar levels, green tea is also used as an aid to weight loss.

The primary reason for many of these health benefits is the high levels of antioxidants in green tea. The antioxidants of green tea are further concentrated in green tea extract, so that a small capsule can contain even more antioxidants than a large cup of tea.
Antioxidants work in the body by fighting cell damage. The cells in our bodies are damaged by free radicals from environmental toxins, foods and drugs we consume, and are created in the body through normal metabolic processes. Researchers have found that green tea extract increases the antioxidant capacity of the body and protects against oxidative stress.

Source: 10 Benefits of Green Tea Extract (healthline.com)

4. Turmeric Rhizome Powder

Turmeric is an especially beautiful spice which has been used for more than 4,000 years in India. When harvested, it is a bright orange root which is ground into the flavorful spice so commonly used for cooking. In addition to anti-inflammatory, anticancer and antioxidant properties; turmeric protects DNA and prevents mutations which occur due to exposure to toxins and chemicals.  Turmeric is an effective treatment for arthritis and many dermatologic disorders. Some people love to incorporate turmeric into their cooking; however, others may find the flavor to be unpleasant. Thankfully, turmeric powder is highly effective when taken as a supplement as well.

Turmeric serves as a powerful aid to the immune system functions by reducing cytokine reactions in the body. A cytokine storm is an aggressive immune response to certain diseases or infections that causes serious and sometimes catastrophic problems in the body. During a cytokine storm, the body is flooded with cytokines, which in turn increase inflammation. In some cases, this response is so aggressive it leads to organ failure and even death. Cytokine storms can be caused by many diseases but are most commonly linked with viral infections. One study found that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric rhizome powder, blocked the release of one type of cytokines specifically responsible for inflammation.

Source“>Why Are Some COVID-19 Cases More Severe Than Others? – San Diego – Sharp Health News

5. Pine Bark Extract

You might not look at a pine tree and think it looks like a snack, yet pine bark extract has been found to provide a wide range of health benefits. Pine bark has been shown to encourage healthy blood pressure and improve blood circulation, improve kidney health, lessen the symptoms of asthma and allergies, and even improve mental function and athletic performance. But pine bark extract also works within the immune system as well, primarily through its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant functions.
Researchers have studied the anti-inflammatory properties of pine bark extract on several diseases that cause inflammation, including rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease. They found that the active ingredients in pine bark extract suppresses the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is essential to a properly functioning immune system, but an accumulation of too much nitric oxide can occur during immune response and cause tissue damage in the body. They concluded that in addition to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, pine bark extract also improved immune function by regulating the production of nitric oxide in the body.

SourcePine bark extract is a potent antioxidant, and may help boost the effects of vitamin C and other antioxidants, UC Berkeley scientists report


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6. Grape Seed Extract

Grape seeds contain quercetin, an antioxidant known for its ability to boost immune functions in many ways, including stimulation of the immune system, antiviral activity, and inhibition of histamine and cytokine release. Grape seed extract is an effective supplement to get the benefits of quercetin.

Researchers have linked the immunity-boosting functions of quercetin to the method of allergic responses and found it to be an effective treatment. In one study, researchers examined using quercetin for allergic disorders (involving skin, food, and respiratory allergies), and found it to be an effective treatment. They found that quercetin led to the inhibition of inflammation and certain enzymes which spike the immune response. They concluded that quercetin was an effective treatment for allergic disorders and noted the need for additional research in using it as a cure to certain allergies.

SourceRed Raspberries and Their Bioactive Polyphenols: Cardiometabolic and Neuronal Health Links (nih.gov)

7. Olive Leaf Extract

Olive leaf extract comes from the same tree used for olives and olive oil. The leaves of the olive tree have been used as traditional medicine by Mediterranean, Persian, and other cultures where olive trees grow natively for thousands of years. The extract taken from the leaves has been shown to aid immune function in the body through several methods.
In addition to stimulating the immune system, olive leaf extract has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antiviral activities. In one study, researchers found that olive leaf extract led to a reduction in pro-inflammatory cytokine production. As discussed with some of the other herbal supplements in this list, normal immune function includes the production of cytokines, but certain cytokines produce inflammation, and an overproduction can lead to organ failure and even death. The researchers in this study concluded that olive leaf reduced specifically four types of cytokines which create inflammation in the body.

SourceRed Raspberries and Their Bioactive Polyphenols: Cardiometabolic and Neuronal Health Links (nih.gov)

8. Cat’s Claw Bark Powder

Cat’s claw powder is made from the bark of a tropical vine which can grow to be more than 100 feet long and has yellow flowers. The vine features curved and sharp thorns, which resemble the claw of a cat, leading to its name. People in South America have eaten the bark and roots of the cat’s claw vine for centuries as a traditional medicine.

Cat’s claw works to improve immune function through two main functions, by boosting the number of white blood cells and by reducing inflammation in the body. Two studies of male participants found that taking cat’s claw bark powder for a short period of time (two months and six weeks in the two studies) increased the number of white blood cells in the body. White blood cells are made in stem cells and bone marrow but are primarily found as part of the immune system within blood and lymph tissues. These cells fight infection and diseases.

In addition to increasing white blood cell levels, cat’s claw bark powder also reduces inflammation. Researchers believe the anti-inflammatory properties are tied to cat’s claw powder immunity benefits. Several studies have examined the healing effects of cat’s claw on different types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, a painful autoimmune condition that causes swollen joints and reduced mobility. Researchers in these varied studies agree that these benefits are linked with the anti-inflammatory properties of cat’s claw bark powder.

SourceRed Raspberries and Their Bioactive Polyphenols: Cardiometabolic and Neuronal Health Links (nih.gov)

9.  Garlic Bulb Powder

Garlic aids in improved immune function and also works to fight infections with two powerful maneuvers. The active compound, allicin, fights bacterial and viral infections and maximizes immune response to illnesses. Garlic provides a second important function, as it helps to maintain and increase circulation throughout the body. Poor circulation leads to general fatigue and feeling physically cold. Because of these two benefits, garlic has been used as a treatment for colds and flus for centuries.

Researchers have examined the benefits of taking garlic as a treatment and as a preventative measure. Their findings show that not only does garlic improve immune function once you are sick by reducing severity of symptoms and duration of illness, but that garlic also led to a reduced likelihood of becoming sick. One study found that participants who were given garlic had a 63% lower risk of getting a cold and that those who did get sick experienced symptoms for 70% shorter time than their counterparts who were given a placebo. They concluded that garlic could be taken either consistently as a supplement or as a short-term treatment.

SourceRed Raspberries and Their Bioactive Polyphenols: Cardiometabolic and Neuronal Health Links (nih.gov)

10. Panax Ginseng Root Powder

Panax ginseng, often referred to simply as ginseng, contains a high content of compounds which act on the immune system, including saponins, ginsenosides, and phenolic compounds such as carotenoids. Ginseng has been found to have a wide range of health benefits including antioxidant, antitumor, antihyperglycemic, and anticancer properties. Additionally, it is known to fight or prevent osteoporosis, respiratory diseases, and some types of infections.
Researchers examined the ability of ginseng to regulate and improve immune response to various diseases. They found that ginseng was able to modulate cellular and humoral immunity in the body and worked as an immunotherapeutic agent against viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections.

SourceRed Raspberries and Their Bioactive Polyphenols: Cardiometabolic and Neuronal Health Links (nih.gov)



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Final Thoughts

People around the world have used certain herbs and foods as medicine for thousands of years. Many herbs can be used to increase immune functions in the body to promote health and healing.

Sources

1. Immunomodulatory Efficacy of Standardized Annona muricata (Graviola) Leaf Extract via Activation of Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Pathways in RAW 264.7 Macrophages (nih.gov)
2. Red Raspberries and Their Bioactive Polyphenols: Cardiometabolic and Neuronal Health Links (nih.gov)
3. 10 Benefits of Green Tea Extract (healthline.com)
4. Why Are Some COVID-19 Cases More Severe Than Others? – San Diego – Sharp Health News
5. Pine bark extract is a potent antioxidant, and may help boost the effects of vitamin C and other antioxidants, UC Berkeley scientists report
6. Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response (nih.gov)
7. Olive Leaf for Immunity – Supplements in Review
8. Cat’s Claw: Benefits, Side Effects, and Dosage (healthline.com)
9. Cat’s claw: an Amazonian vine decreases inflammation in osteoarthritis – PubMed (nih.gov)
10. How Garlic Fights Colds and The Flu (healthline.com)
11. Ginseng: A dietary supplement as immune-modulator in various diseases – ScienceDirect

Natural Food for your Immune System


Graviola Leaf


Raspberry Fruit


Green Tea


Tumeric Powder


Pine Bark


Grape Seed


Olive Leaf


Cat’s Claw Bark


Garlic Bulb


Panax Ginseng