Immune Boosting Supplements
Published October 03, 2022
As winter is upon us, so are runny noses, sneezing and coughing. Most of the traditional over the counter medications simply suppress symptoms and potentially cause side effects. There are many supplements available that have little to no side effects, are all natural, and fight off those pesky viruses and bacteria. In addition, supplements can be taken as a preventative to boost the strength of the immune system and prevent infections.
Which immune boosting supplements are the best?
Echinacea was used by Native Americans for hundreds of years prior to Europeans settling the New World. It is available as a supplement in teas, tablets, capsules and as a dried herb. When taken at the onset of an infection, Echinacea is extremely powerful and can reduce recovery time from bacterial or viral infections. Echinacea stimulates the immune system by increasing interferon and interleukin, which readies the immune system against potential invaders.
Goldenseal has been used for hundreds of years by American Indians as a medication for inflammatory conditions caused by infections. Goldenseal’s immune stimulating properties include antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. When taken at the first sign of the cold and flu, it can prevent the development of additional symptoms. Goldenseal contains an alkaloid called berberine. This is thought to be the compound that fights bacteria, protozoa and fungi. Berberine prevents bacteria from adhering to the walls of tissue surfaces and prevents infection of mucous membranes. It can be used as a wash to treat conditions like eczema, ringworm, skin sores, earache and conjunctivitis.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the most popular and most common immune system stimulants. Large concentrations of vitamin C are found in immune cells and consumed quickly during an infection. It is thought to elevate the immune system by stimulating antimicrobial and natural killer cell activities, lymphocyte proliferation and chemotaxis. It is readily available in liquid, powder, capsule or tablet form.
Zinc has the ability to ward off infections like the cold and flu by stimulating almost every type of immune cell. It is used in the lozenge form for conditions, like strep throat and respiratory infections. It is available as a supplement in tablet, capsule and liquid form. Zinc also reduces recovery time from surgery by preventing infection and stimulating growth factors. Some studies show that zinc may reduce the duration of an infection. Zinc deficiency, even mild, impairs immune function. Low zinc levels have been associated with increased risk for diseases, such as pneumonia and ulcers.
There are many mushrooms that have powerful immune stimulating properties. Shiitake mushrooms were originally cultivated in Asia, but modern growing techniques allow it to be grown anywhere. Studies show that shiitake mushrooms are anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-tumor. Reishi mushrooms are grown in China and have a host of immune stimulating priorities, including fighting off bacteria and viruses. This mushroom can repel other fungal infections. They are also used as prevention and treatment for cancer.
There are very few side effects of these immune stimulating supplements. Do not take these supplements if you have an allergy or have an autoimmune disease as these will stimulate the immune system and can potentially exacerbate your condition.
In many instances, the aforementioned supplements are constituents in combination products. Combination products are most effective and will quickly fight off infection, as the ingredients work via different pathways. For maximum effectiveness, begin taking these supplements prior to cold and flu season and have these on hand in case you begin experiencing symptoms. Make sure your multivitamin contains vitamin C and zinc and take supplements under the direction of a healthcare provider.
About Scott Schreiber
Dr. Scott Schreiber has been practicing in Newark, Delaware for over 11 years. He is a chiropractic physician that is double board certified in rehabilitation and clinical nutrition, a certified nutrition specialist and a licensed dietitian/nutritionist. You can learn more about Dr. Schreiber as well as reach out to him via www.drscottschreiber.com.