Immunity is the ability to defend our body from free radicals that invite a host of infections and diseases. But the treatment could cost us an arm and a leg! Fortunately, Mother Earth, especially land of India, has been gracious enough to bless us with a bountiful garden of medicinal herbs, plants and spices which are not just inexpensive but overall rejuvenators as well. Let’s have a look at some of the best immunity booster herbs in Ayurveda.
Ashwagandha, scientifically known as Withania Somnifera, is an Ayurvedic Rasayana (rejuvenator) wild shrub and is known by many other names like poison gooseberry, winter cherry and Indian ginseng etc. Its root, seeds, leaves and fruit have been used in the treatment of different conditions and diseases.
Primarily working as an anti-stress and an adaptogen while helping muscles and neurons relax and stimulate healthy cell growth and boost memory, it is a great rejuvenator and a promoter of youth.
Here, we will be talking about its role as an immunomodulator.
When taken with milk (especially of the cow), it can help in increasing the body’s white cells, called lymphocytes, which provide a defence mechanism against free radicals that cause cellular damage, infections and certain types of cancers. Further, lymphocytes come in four forms:
- Natural killer cells that fight viral infections and tumours. B-cells which make antibodies that bind to the viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites and then destroy them (the blood plasma therapy used in fighting COVID-19 is a proof of their greater effectiveness in fighting foreign bodies).
- CD4 plus T cells are helper cells that coordinate the immune system’s response and help remove the tumour cells.
- CD8 plus T cells kill cells that become infected.
- Our health thrives on its ability to fight foreign bodies that weaken the immunity system. Therefore taking care of the immunity is a lifelong effort.
- Quoting here a case study of its efficacy when it was taken with milk for a few days, showed improvement in the production of lymphocytes in the administered human volunteers. It works that fast!
To be on the safe side, refer to the advice on the packaging itself for correct dosage and its possible side-effects.
A tar-like substance found in the Himalayas, and with its main ingredients, Fulvic acid and more than 84 minerals, it predominantly cures anaemia, erectile dysfunction, liver cancer, boost energy, immunity, enhances memory, reduces high blood pressure and cures diabetes.
Immunity determines our overall health and the pace of recovery of any condition or disease depends on it. As an antioxidant that fights free radicals, unstable atoms or molecules that damage cells, it has been found effective in a respiratory burst, especially in children’s upper respiratory tract infection.
Offering an innate immune response, it provides disease resistance against A-hydrophila that causes a host of diseases like meningitis, septicaemia, endocrines and gastroenteritis. It is also a natural potion for vitality.
It has been advised to take it with warm water or milk for quick absorption and maximum efficacy.
Popular as Tulsi is a medicinal shrub botanically named Ocimum tenuiflorum and is rich in vitamin A, C and K and minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc and phosphorus. It has good amounts of protein and fibre also. The phytochemicals in its leaves are used to treat many conditions and ailments- largely infections of heart, lungs, mouth, liver, skin, kidney etc.
There are basically three types of tulsi grown in India: Bright green leaves called Ram tulsi. Purplish green leaves called Krishna tulsi and common or wild, Vana tulsi.
Its vitamin C and zinc contents have immense anti-bacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties, helping in the growth of T helper and Killer cells and act as natural immunity boosters keeping infections at bay while also standing-in as antipyretic(fever suppressor) and analgesic(pain reliever). Camphene, cineole and eugenol present in tulsi leaves help cold and chest congestion. It is also anti-fungal and helps in clearing acne. As a digestive, it protects us from gastrointestinal diseases.
Tulsi is generally taken in combination with ginger juice and honey for the treatment of common cold, throat infection and cough. As a wonder treatment, five leaves of tulsi chewed every day might help women protect themselves from breast cancer as per a study.
Sold as tablets and powder, it is available over the counter.
It is a green plant called half-leaved moonseed because of its appearance and botanically referred to as Tinospora cordifolia. It is a magic herb that boosts immunity while enhancing a person’s beauty and providing him immorality. Its stem is of maximum efficacy but its leaves and root are equally potent. A proximate analysis of its stems reveal its content break-up percentage as of:moisture: 34.39%, ether extract: 0.192%, crude protein: 7.74%, crude fibre: 56.42 %, total ash: 7.96%, nitrogen-free extract: 26.97 %, cellulose: 23.02%, hemicellulose: 3.7%. It’s mineral analysis further break up reveals calcium: 102.23 ppm, phosphorous: 24.81 %, manganese: 12.242 %, iron: 26.058%, copper: 3.733% and zinc: 7.342%. It is a powerhouse of antioxidants that fight free radicals, removes toxins, purifies blood, fights bacteria, UTI infections, treats heart diseases, infertility and combats liver disease. It improves digestion and fights respiratory problems like frequent cough, cold and tonsils when combined with other herbs.Sold as a tablet, capsule, powder and syrup, it can be bought over the counter.
Botanically called Zingiber officinale is an anti-inflammatory spice that boosts digestion, helps with motion sickness, reduces pain, is rich in antioxidants and is a shot in the arm for the immune system and chemotherapy. It is basically anti-tumour, anti-microbes, anti-ulcer and neuro-protector. It also helps the kidney functions, diabetic liver and eye problems.
Ginger oils like terpenes and oleoresin are some active ingredients present in ginger besides vallinoids, viz. gingerol, paradol, shogaols, zingerone, and galanals that prevent the damage of macromolecules caused by free radicals, and inhibit pathogens.
It is taken as a condiment for digestion and as a flavonoid in daily food preparations in India. But for specific ailments, its juice is much preferred either taken alone or with another combination depending on the condition.
It is available in its powder form and sold as tablets, capsules and in syrups in combination with other herbs.
Spirulina or Seaweed
Blue-green algae is a biomass of cyanobacteria that grows in fresh and saltwater and consumed by humans and animals. Its main components are protein: 57.47 g, vitamin E: 33% 5 mg, vitamin C: 10.1 mg, vitamin K: 24% 25.5 g, and some other vitamins, niacin, potassium, iron, copper, calcium, selenium, magnesium, zinc and amino acids.
Recently, it came into prominence when NASA declared that it could be grown in space.
It is the single most nutritious food on the planet and supposed to have more protein than a single egg.
With its main active component phycocyanin and which also gives it a bluish-green colour. It fights free radicals, inflammation, oxidants and cancer, especially oral cancer. Besides the above, it also cures allergic rhinitis, high blood pressure, anaemia and prevents oxidation of bad cholesterol and stabilises high blood sugar etc. The vitamin C and zinc contents help in boosting immunity.
It is a low calorie and high nutrient food and excellent in weight management and available in its powder/tablet/capsule form in the market.
Green Tea Extract
Green tea, made from Camellia sinensis leaves and buds that have not gone through same withering and oxidation as black or oolong tea and originated in East Asia, specifically China is a powerful antioxidant and weight management agent.
Besides being just a hydrating beverage, it contains a range of healthy compounds like polyphenols that help in reducing inflammation and fight cancer. Another ingredient catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) prevents cell damage and provides other benefits. It has a small number of minerals that can benefit your health.
Green tea helps fight breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer and also protects the brain from ageing, cures type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, helps lose weight and live longer.
Taken as tea in hot water, tablets and capsules, it is easily available in the market.
Daruharidra, botanically called Berberis aristata, is native to the Himalayas in India and Nepal and popular as Indian barberry, chutro or tree turmeric. It is a spice whose roots, stems, leaves, wood, root and root bark are widely used for their medicinal properties. The fruit is edible and a rich source of vitamin C while the root bark is rich in berberine and isoquinoline alkaloids. Both the chemical compounds are anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, antitumor and antiviral and antiseptic in nature, while vitamin C is the primary anti-oxidant agent for digestion and immunity boost-up. Apart from the above, some other uses of the spice lie in the treatment of eye disorders, wound healing, syphilis, throat infections, conjunctivitis, ulcers, piles, diabetes, jaundice, certain fistulas, spasmodic pain, menorrhagia and leucorrhea.
It is pungent in taste and hot in disposition and balances Kapha and pitta doshas. Its properties are similar to Curcuma longa but it is primarily used to treat eye, ear and throat related disorders.
Daruharidra is available in churna, capsule and tablet forms and can be taken with milk and water after lunch and dinner. But for correct dosage, it will be worthwhile to check the advice on its cover.
Boerhaavia diffusa, commonly known as punarnava, red spiderling, spreading hogweed or tarvine, is a reviver or the replenisher of the body, useful in kidney and liver diseases, constipation, stones, oedema, rat bite, fever, alcoholism, abscess, rheumatoid, arthritis and several other health conditions.
Its roots, seeds and the whole plants are used as a medicine in Ayurveda. It balances tri-dosha, pacifies Vata dosha and Kapha dosha and prevents the likely formation of ama dosha(toxins).
Punarava is a treasure trove of nutrients like proteins, vitamin C, sodium, calcium, iron and bioactive components punarnava side, serratagenic acid, hypoxanthine, 9-L- arabinofuranoside, boeravinone A to F, liriodendron, ursolic acid, oleanolic acid and some other nutrients which makes it a great diuretic, an antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antioxidant and immunity enhancer.
It is advisable to use punarnava powder with coconut oil or water. It is also available in capsule and tablet forms. Even its leaves are used in vegetable preparations.
Turmeric (Curcuma Longa)
Curcuma longa popularly known as turmeric is used as a chief spice in Indian food preparations. Its root is used for medicinal purposes. It is antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory in nature with essential nutrients like vitamin C, beta-carotene, ascorbic acid, calcium, flavonoids, iron, niacin, potassium, zinc and curcuminoids like demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin and some 34 essential oils.
With its medicinal properties, it can cure many ailments and conditions like skin damage caused by radiation therapy, stomach ulcers, Alzheimer’s disease, the decline in memory, asthma, beta-thalassemia, acral erythema, colorectal adenoma, colon cancer, rectal cancer, CABG surgery, Crohn disease, diabetes, indigestion, gingivitis, pylori, Irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis, stress, acne, ringworm etc.
As an antioxidant, it fights the infection that causes inflammation and also blocks the growth of enzymes that produce oxidants in the body whether applied on the skin or taken orally and boosts immunity. Its main purpose is to clean the blood of impurities and toxins and thus boost the infection-fighting capability of the body and mind.
Preferred in its Nano(small) form and formulated as Nano curcumin because of its insolubility, and for its bioavailability in stores, it is sold in different formulations. Another extract called turmeric is a peptide and easily soluble in water is also sold in the market alongside Nano curcumin.
It works better with oil and piperine, so take it with black pepper or milk for its easy absorption.
All the Ayurveda spices and herbs are supposed to have no side-effects as such, still, some can interact with certain medicines or may not be good for certain stages like pregnancy. Read the advice on the package for a perfect dosage or contact an Ayurveda doctor in case of chronic conditions for the sake of safety.
Since time ancient people have tried to find medications to ease pain and cure different illnesses. In every era, every successive century the healing properties of certain medicinal plants were identified, noted, and carried to the successive generations.
The benefits of one society were passed on to another, which advanced the old properties, discovered new ones, till present days. The unceasing and everlasting people’s interest in medicinal plants has brought about today’s modern and urbane technique of their processing and practice.
Vogue Wellness mission is to reestablish your health, strength and energy by delivering history’s ancient healing power of herbs to the modern world.
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