Bolstering the Immune System Using Chinese Herbs to Fend Off Swine Flu


dreamstime 2043796astragalusI know people are still very concerned about the H1N1 virus (also known as the Swine Flu) and what can be done to help protect them from getting sick. Here are some great ideas from an article by Cathy Margolin L.A.c., originally posted May 4th, 2009.

Everyone wants to know what can be done to increase our body’s natural resistance to a variety of infections, including the now-emerging swine flu (H1N1). Taking herbal supplements is one way to accomplish this.

Volumes have been written on this subject of immune-boosting herbal products. Since the question seems to be of vital concern, especially if you’ve been listening to the news lately, I will cover what I consider, only the top ways to boost your immune system with Chinese Herbs.

I must diverge for a moment because if you are serious about building a strong immune system a few lifestyle issues must also be implemented. Otherwise, no matter what herbs you take, long term benefits will elude you. This again is a vast topic, so I will only list the absolute essential practices you need in your daily life to keep your immune system in balance or in homeostasis.

Getting enough sleep is essential. Drink water and exercise everyday. (At the very least fit some walking into your day.) Exercise is also a great way to reduce stress, which is next on this list. Eat a healthy diet, think variety and consume as little sugar as possible. If you are not incorporating these practices into your everyday life, your weakening your immune system and any variety of infections will find you a welcome host.

That being said, boosting your immune system with Chinese herbs can and will help you prevent infections, but herbal supplements are not an overnight quick fix. Chinese herbal formulas should be taken for at least one month for a powerful, long lasting effect. Adaptogenic herbs such as ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, ganoderma, (also known as reishi mushrooms), coryceps, astragalus and dand eleuthero are all herbs at the top of the “boost the immune system” list. Adaptogenic herbs do exactly what their name implies, they assist the body in “adapting” to its environment. Keep in mind Chinese herbs are best taken within a formula, rather than individually, to enhance synergistic actions between herbs.

Scientific studies have shown these herbs all support and enhance the body’s immune functions. These adaptogenic herbs have compounds such as polysaccharides which increase the body’s natural killer cells, also known as lymphocytes. Extensive studies also support the claims that these herbs promote the activity of antibodies, improve the body’s resistance to stress and infections, help balances stress, reduces allergies, increase energy and promote healthy liver functions, just to name a few. A side note, if you are taking immuno-suppresant drugs these herbs are not recommended as they have potent immune enhancing effects which can increase the risk of rejection of the drugs and thus may severely compromise a person’s health.

Most importantly, if you are looking to purchase any medicinal herbs please buy from a reputable source that you can trust. There are many companies who do not start with high quality crude herbs. Quality herbs, testing for contaminants, proper storage and preparation are all vital to ensuring a herbal products potency. I can’t stress enough, the importance of knowing your buying from a reputable source.

I wish you good health and a strong and healthy immune system.

Cathy Margolin is a Licensed Acupuncturist in CA and has been certified as a Diplomat in Oriental Medicine from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She has specialized in Chinese Herbs and her company caries high potency herbal products sold in individual packets for freshness. She has visited herb manufacturers in both China and Taiwan and has extensively researched Chinese herb processing.

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