Every day your immune system faces countless potential threats from infectious viruses, bacteria, and other harmful microbes. They can lurk in the food you’re eating, on the surfaces you touch, and in the air you breathe. A healthy immune system neutralizes most of those threats, keeping you safe and healthy. Sometimes, though, your immune system will face a danger it doesn’t recognize or get overwhelmed by infectious microbes. When that happens, you end up feeling sick, tired, and riddled by symptoms that can last for days or weeks.
Since you can’t possibly avoid every infectious virus, bacterium, and fungus out there, you need a robust immune system. And when the threat of infection is higher—like during the cooler fall and winter months—your immune system needs additional support to mount the most effective response.
That’s where time-tested natural solutions come into play. The highly effective, intensively studied, natural remedies below give your immune system the assist it needs to protect you against the infectious pathogens you constantly come into contact with at the bank, grocery store, restaurants, and everywhere else. These go-to immune system supports have been used for thousands of years and come with a long history of safety and effectiveness—without causing negative side effects. In fact, because these natural solutions are packed with hundreds of healing compounds, they often improve overall physical, mental, and emotional wellness too.
For thousands of years, Ayurvedic practitioners have turned to andrographis to treat their patients for a wide variety of ailments. This bitter herb is best known for its ability to boost the immune response to help your body deal with infections, but its abilities don’t end there. This multi-tasking herb has earned a sterling reputation when it comes to overall immune support, largely thanks to a key compound called andrographolide. Researchers have found that andrographis makes an effective ally against heart disease, Lyme disease, arthritis, and diabetes.
Andrographis’ main claim to fame lies in its ability to quickly relieve viral and bacterial infections. Studies show that andrographis helps minimize cold and flu symptoms and speed up recovery times, all without causing negative side effects. One double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial found that andrographis relieved upper respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose, and fatigue in just two days. By day four, participants who took andrographis enjoyed significant relief from all of their symptoms, including headaches, coughing, and phlegm production.
A recent meta-analysis found that andrographis safely and effectively relieves symptoms of respiratory tract infections in both adults and children. Researchers reviewed 33 clinical trials that included 7,175 patients for this study and found that andrographis improved coughs, sore throats, and overall symptoms significantly better than a placebo. The herb also successfully shortened the duration of symptoms and the number of days needed for sick leave.
In addition to its ability to provide quick symptom relief, andrographis has also demonstrated powerful antibacterial action against infectious bacteria such as:
- E. coli
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
- Streptococcus pneumoniae
- Streptococcus pyogenes
To harness the full immune-boosting power of this herb, look for an andrographis supplement listed on labels as EP80. This proprietary form provides 80 mg of andrographolides—the plant’s most effective compound—per serving.
“Bee glue” may not sound like something that could boost your immune system, but it’s been used for thousands of years to improve health and resilience. Bees make propolis (aka bee glue) from the resins they gather from trees and other plants. They transform those resins with their own enzymes, mix it with beeswax, and create a protective antimicrobial glue and sealant to keep their hives safe from invading bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Along with its shielding capabilities, propolis contains more than 300 compounds, including vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols (beneficial plant chemicals), that provide strong antioxidant and anti-tumor protection.
Research shows that propolis can modulate the immune response and is effective against a variety of upper respiratory infections, including strep throat and the flu. In a study conducted in Yemen, propolis was shown to have impressive antimicrobial effects for children suffering from upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). The children had the usual complaints that come along with cold and flu season: runny noses, sore throats, coughs, and fevers. They were examined and diagnosed with various URTIs, including the common cold, pharyngitis, tonsillitis, and oral thrush. Study results showed the successful antimicrobial activity of propolis against the growth of bacteria that cause strep throat (S. pyogenes) and other severe infections, including the flu and candida.
Other studies show that propolis can reduce the frequency of ear infections in children. An open-label, retrospective, controlled clinical study of 56 children with ear infections found that propolis not only reduced the severity of their symptoms, it shortened the length of the infection. Another study of 122 kids with recurrent ear infections found that pairing propolis with zinc significantly reduced the risk of new infections.
When choosing propolis for immune system support, look for a product that lists EP300 on the supplement facts label. You can safely take 100 mg of this purified European propolis daily, and increase that to 100 mg twice daily when extra support is needed.
6 Habits for a Healthier Immune System
- Eat more antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies
- Power up immunity with high-quality sources of protein
- Stay hydrated with pure H20
- Get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day
- Strive for 7-9 hours of sleep each night
- Practice stress-relieving activities like meditation