More than ever, people are interested in learning how to support and boost immune system health. This isn’t surprising. Every day now our lives are being impacted by COVID-19 (Coronavirus), and it is natural to want to do everything we can to stay healthy.
There are many steps we can take to slow the spread of COVID-19, but we are becoming increasingly aware maintaining strong immune health is about a lot more than hygiene, distancing, isolating and quarantining. However, these things are very important and you should do them to the extent you are called upon.
Right now we are faced with a lack of control in many areas of our lives. Unwanted changes can be very hard to deal with. Before you despair too much, take a close look at your life: you have control over your own actions and behaviors. There are more things you can control than things you cannot. This includes what foods you take to boost immune health.
What Herbs are BEST to Support and Boost Your Immune System?
As it became a reality that COVID-19 was going to reach pandemic proportions, we consulted with Neuro Growth co-founder and Master Herbalist, Derek Fleming.
Derek is an expert on herbalism with more than a decade of experience, so we highly value his opinions on which herbs are best for supporting immune and lung health.
The information we are going to share with you represents our opinions and does not constitute medical advice. It also does not replace directives for your health that have been given to you by a health care professional.
If you have a medical condition or are taking medications it is important for you to consult your health care provider before making a lifestyle change or starting a new treatment.
Furthermore, if you have symptoms of or have been diagnosed with COVID-19, this is not a treatment or a cure. Please follow the guidelines for obtaining professional medical advice and/or treatment in the city in which you are located.
Now that all the official stuff is taken care of and at the forefront, let’s get into this.
Herbalism works to boost your immune system health best when:
- You take the herbs regularly
- You maintain a balanced lifestyle in as many ways as possible
We want to set you up for your best success, so before we jump right in and discuss which herbs to take, we want you to know what lifestyle habits are a total BUST for your immune health.
The Top 6 Things You are Doing that WEAKEN Your Immune System
The more changes you can make in a positive direction, the stronger you will be. Now… are you doing any of these things…
1. You Don’t Get Enough Sleep
You are more likely to catch a cold or a flu when you are short on sleep. It’s a fact of life. For most adults, being well-rested means achieving 7-9 hours of sleep a night. When you get enough sleep your body is better fortified against infections.
On top of making you more prone to illness, inadequate sleep makes you less resistant to stress.
Have you ever noticed that you are more stiff, sore and prone to headaches and irritable when you aren’t well-rested?
This is because the body has an increased inflammatory response when stress hormones are high. Staying well-rested is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health.
2. You’re Not Exercising
No, you don’t need to exercise like a beast, but you do need to move your body. Even moderate exercise like a daily 30 minute walk, will help your body battle infections.
If you don’t exercise regularly, you are more likely to catch colds and flu compared to your sweaty friends.
For those who struggle with falling and staying asleep, regular exercise can help improve the quality and duration of your sleep.
Exercise also makes you feel happier. Your body naturally produces neurotransmitters including serotonin and dopamine and endocannabinoids. When you exercise, they go to work more effectively to stabilize your mood.
3. Your Diet Needs Improving
When you need to stay well, one of the most important things you can do is eat nourishing foods. Some of the best foods to nourish your body are ironically some of the least expensive.
Think as unrefined as you can. Simple ingredients whose names you recognize are best. Eat more nutrient rich fruits and vegetables in wide variety. If trying new foods is a challenge for you, try picking one piece of produce that you rarely or never have from the grocery store and then search for a recipe to use it in.
Now isn’t the time to procrastinate optimizing your nutrition, it’s time to be proactive.
Keep in mind that some foods are well-known to be good for your immune system. Garlic, literally every variety of edible mushroom, and old-fashioned chicken bone and meat broth like these are very nourishing and supportive for your body.
4. You are Constantly Stressed Out
We can’t avoid stress. In fact, we need some stress in our lives to keep us on our toes and out of danger. Unfortunately, many of us are feeling overwhelmed.
If feeling stressed-out continues for too long, our immune system becomes weaker. This can lead to decreased resistance to coughs, colds, flu and disease.
Hormonal responses to chronic stress can severely suppress the immune system.
While eliminating stress is impossible, we can practice the skills needed to get better at managing it.
We have found breath work extremely effective to reduce stress. Check out our 3 part series on breath work if you feel the need to de-compress:
Breath work is incredible because pretty much anyone can do it.
These videos are introductory yet anyone can achieve results they can feel from them. There is no equipment required, so you can get started without buying a thing.
5. You are Too Socially Distant/Isolated
This is a tough one right now. Even with technology and possibly even our own household around us, we can easily feel isolated and disconnected from the people we care about.
Why not call a friend or family member and catch up?
For those who struggle intensely with finding connection, many people find reishi mushroom and/or microdosing helps open them up to interaction. People often report feeling more heart-centred when taking reishi. Please be aware microdosing magic mushrooms is not legal in most countries in the world.
6. You Have Lost Your Sense of Humour
This is pretty obvious.
Laughter makes us feel good.
When you laugh, your body reduces the production of stress hormones. This can boost immune system health in the most fun way!
Support Your Immune System with These 5 Natural Herbs
Now you are more connected to the baseline actions you can take to strengthen your immune health.
If you can even just improve how you manage lifestyle factors, what we will show you will be more effective.
With all the panic and stories about COVID-19 (Coronavirus), it can be hard to know what you ACTUALLY should do to help reduce the spread and improve you general immune health.
The good news is you can choose not to live in a fear space or let yourself feed off other people’s anxiety.
But can you give yourself an immune system boost and an edge-up on a virus like this?
Is there anything you can do beyond the very important tasks of:
- Washing your hands often
- Coughing into your sleeve
- Socially distancing
- Self-isolating and quarantining
We believe that nutritionally, you can help prevent viral lung infections and boost immune system health.
Discover how you can use these herbs to boost your immune system now or any time there is an increased risk for lung infections. These are herbs that could potentially be helpful to you during any cold and flu season.
You don’t have to take all of them but focusing on the ones that speak to you could be helpful!
1. Agarikon Mushroom
The star of the show is agarikon mushroom extract.
Agarikon mushroom is one of the top medicinal mushrooms you may not have heard of.
The traditional use in the indigenous cultures that used this mushroom was for heavy lung issues. COVID-19 is a virus that targets the lungs. Agarikon is also a powerful antiviral, which is why it is our number one recommendation as a defence herb.
If there are elderly people or people who you are particularly concerned about the consequences of contracting a viral lung infection, this herb could be valuable for them.
2. Cordyceps Mushroom
Cordyceps mushrooms are a bronchodilator, which means they open the lungs. They provide energy without stimulating robbing our adrenals, which boosts the immune system.
Cordyceps are most commonly available as either a whole food powder, extract or tincture. There are benefits to all the different forms.
Cordyceps powders or extracts can be stirred into any tea, coffee, soup, stew, sauce or elixir with ease.
We show you how simple it is in this energy-boosting recipe video that uses cordyceps powder and astragalus root extract.
Almost all forms of cordyceps available on the market are Cordyceps militaris, which are a cultivated variety. Wild cordyceps (Cordyceps sinesis) are the most expensive herb on the planet and cost approximately $4,500 for 454 g.
Our favourite cordyceps are New Earth Organics Scarlet Cordyceps Powder.
This is a product we used for years before starting Neuro Growth and we wouldn’t recommend it if we didn’t love and use it ourselves, but in full disclosure, we are an affiliate. That said, the bonus of sharing with you is that you get 10% off your whole cart when you use this discount code at checkout:
3. Astragalus Root
Astragalus, like cordyceps, is a bronchodilator and is protective for the lungs. It is commonly available in two forms: dried root or extract.
The root can be simmered for 15-20 minutes to make a tasty tea. This tea can be consumed as is or used as the liquid base for any tea, coffee, soup, stew smoothie or elixir.
Astragalus extract is “instant” and more convenient to use. Simply add it to any liquid or elixir.
New Earth Organics carries our favourite astragalus extract powder here.
Important Note on Astragalus When You ARE Sick:
Please note that if you are already sick with a lung infection, Astragalus should not be consumed. Stop taking it at the onset of cold/flu symptoms and while you are ill.
Elderberries or Elderberry syrups can be used to fight viruses. Dried elderberries can be made into a tea or concentrated to make elderberry syrups. These syrups can be made on your own or purchased from a wide variety of retailers.
One of the reasons elderberries made this list isn’t because they kill viruses. When the compounds in elderberries come in contact with a virus they literally neuter them, cutting off their little tentacles so they can’t hijack your cells and spread the infection. Bad. Ass.
Some of our favourite Elderberry products are these*:
- Light Cellar dried Elderberries.
- Blue Lotus Ethnobotanicals Elderberry Syrup. Find these guys on Instagram and message them directly to order.
- Harmonic Arts Elderberry Syrup is also a great product and if you plan to use a lot of it, their large bottle is excellent value.
If you like to get creative in the kitchen, you can make your own elderberry syrup! This recipe is simple and makes a great syrup. The one thing we do differently is we don’t throw away the elderberries and puree them into the syrup so as to consume the whole food.
*Please note that we are not product affiliates of Light Cellar, Blue Lotus Ethnobotanicals, or Harmonic Arts but recommend these specific products to you because we have or currently use and love them.
5. Turkey Tail Mushroom
Turkey Tail mushroom has been used for centuries in illness prevention. For general immune support, this mushroom can be used anytime by most people.
2 hour decoction to pull out the polysachharides and beta glucans to modulate (balance) your white cell count. This increases your odds of not catching viral infections.
Important Note About Long-Term Continuous Use of Turkey Tail:
Though turkey tail mushrooms is safe, it should not be taken daily for extended periods of time. It is best to periodically give yourself a break and cycle this herb.
To cycle it effectively you may choose to only take turkey tail:
- During cold and flu season
- Before and during a vacation
- On weekdays
- During particularly stressful times when you are prone to illness like midterms, final exams, month end at work, etc.
The specific cycle you choose isn’t important, but giving yourself a periodic break from it is.
If you are concerned about cycling Turkey Tail a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner or your herbalist will be able to give you specific insights related to your health circumstances.
We can’t underestimate the power of stress over immune function, particularly as we adjust to life during a global pandemic. However, stress at any time is a major challenge to immune health.
Because stress management is critical to staying healthy, we want to share the following resources with you:
We hope you will find these herbs and tips helpful as you navigate through stresses and times when you are at increased risk due to illness.
If you like videos, we made one called How to Protect Yourself From Coronavirus (COVID-19): Ancient Secrets & Modern Science. Check it out here.
If you have any questions about the herbs above or about any of the content on our site, please do not hesitate to reach out to us through our secure content form. We do not sell any products containing psilocybin “magic” mushrooms or offer source referrals.