Benefits of Natural Herbs and Supplements for Your Health
The immune system is crucial for our health, and numerous herbs and supplements can help keep it balanced to fight off viruses and bacteria effectively
Microbes and viruses are all around us regardless of how clean we are and how many times we wash our hands; we constantly carry around billions of microbes through our bodies on our skin, hair, nails, and clothes.
More than 600,000 bacteria live on just one square inch of skin of an average person. Any human at any time has about a quarter of a pound of bacteria on their body. That can sound alarming, as viruses and bacteria are caused by some of the deadliest diseases globally, such as AIDS, the plague, flu, and COVID19. But if that's true, how come we don't get sick all the time and manage to live through the pandemic without getting infected?
The primary reason we don't get sick at all times from the viruses and bacteria we encounter daily is our immune system, which protects us from outside invaders and keeps us healthy.
Whether you are afraid of the ongoing COVID19 pandemic or looking for ways to stay healthy, you may start looking for ways to keep your immune system robust and start searching for ways to 'boost' your immune system.
Although it's essential to keep your immune system strong so it can prevent and fight off infections, there is no such a thing as 'boosting' the immune system rather than keeping it balanced. If you are wondering if natural herbs and supplements can help your immune system protect your body from numerous diseases, here's everything you need to know.
Boosting the Immune System – Breaking the Myth
According to a common misconception, in order to stay healthy, you need to 'boost' your immunity, and countless articles on the internet and supplements and vitamins promise to help.
Although these may sound helpful, it's essential to understand your immune system isn't a single muscle you can train or organ you can target with trendy supplements. Instead, it is a complex system divided into two categories: the innate immune system preventing and fighting pathogens; and the adaptive immunity, fighting a previously recognized specific microorganism or antigen. Innate immunity is our first line of defense and helps to prevent infection and attack of the microbes. It works very fast, while the adaptive response may take from days to weeks, by exposure to pathogens through getting infected or vaccination.
Innate immunity consists of different components, including physical barriers like airways, mucus membranes, and chemicals and cells in the innate immunity, which can rapidly raise the alert and begin fighting off any intruder once they manage to get through the outside barriers and enter the body.
So, if, let's say, you are exposed to influenza viruses, and they manage to intrude your body, soon you will start experiencing symptoms such as body aches, a fever, sneezing, sore throat, headaches, muscle pain, etc. Although you may directly blame the virus for causing these symptoms, most of them are caused by your own body to fight the viruses, and these symptoms are part of the innate immune response.
The idea of 'boosting' a person's immune system, in all likelihood, would make all these symptoms more severe, and presumably, that's not what you want to experience.
Most trendy immune-boosting supplements also promise to fight inflammation, which is crucial for your immune response, so if they did boost immunity, they'd, on the contrary, make inflammation even worse.
So, is there such a thing as boosting your immunity? We believe it's more about keeping your immune system balanced, so it does its job as expected to keep your body healthy, and here're the herbs and supplements that may help.
One of the most common reasons why your immune system may suddenly go out of balance is stress. Excessive stress can reduce the immune system's ability to fight off antigens leaving us more susceptible to infections.
The stress hormone cortisol can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system. Moreover, stress can also indirectly impact the immune system. That's because we usually don't eat a healthy diet, drink enough water, and adopt unhealthy behaviors to cope with stress, such as smoking and drinking, all negatively affecting our immune system.
The reason we start the list with chamomile as it can both reduce our stress hormones and directly impact our immune and nervous system.
When we are stressed, our nervous system throws our digestive and immune systems out of balance. Similarly, when the digestive tract is irritated, it aggravates the immune responses. In both cases, chamomile effectively brings the body back to balance by soothing the nervous system with its aromatic essential oils or by working directly on digestion by drinking chamomile tea.
Chamomile is widely famous as a calming and stress-soothing tea. A 2016 study found that long-term use of chamomile extract can significantly reduce moderate to severe symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Chamomile tea may help the immune system stay balanced and fight infections associated with colds. Drinking chamomile may also increase antibacterial activity and help your innate immunity defeat viruses.
In Today's world, anyone can feel stressed and encounter stressful situations at any given time, whether it's at work, at home, or while scrolling social media feeds. As we can't usually control the factors raising our cortisol levels, it's essential to find ways to reduce our stress levels as it can negatively affect our immune system. When the immune system is compromised, it can lead to numerous diseases and severe health issues.
Lavender is a famous essential oil in aromatherapy for reducing stress and inducing a better night's sleep, both of which can help your immune system stay balanced and work properly. Moreover, lavender helps our immunity due to its antioxidant properties, protecting the cells from free radicals.
This sour citrus fruit is a nutritional powerhouse — high in vitamin C, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients crucial for your overall health and immunity. Limes may help keep your immune system healthy and balanced, reduce many disease risk factors, prevent kidney stones, promote iron absorption, and support healthy skin.
More importantly, limes are packed with antioxidants crucial for defending your cells against molecules called free radicals that can damage your cells.
Limes are also high in vitamin C, which helps increase the production of white blood cells, essential for protecting your body against infections and disease.
Melatonin is a sleep hormone crucial for our sleep-wake cycle. Because many people are deficient in the hormone due to health conditions and lifestyle habits, melatonin supplements can help those struggling with insomnia achieve a better night's sleep.
Lack of sleep is another primary factor of your immune system being off balance.
Your immune system releases proteins called cytokines during sleep. Sleep deprivation can decrease the production of these protective cytokines essential for a healthy immune system. Sleep deprivation can also reduce the production of infection-fighting antibodies and leave you more susceptible to certain viruses.
Melatonin supplements can help regulate the sleep-wake cycle; therefore, they can help balance the immune system by getting proper and adequate sleep.
Moreover, melatonin is an anti-inflammatory agent that can regulate the immune system's activation, reducing chronic and acute inflammation enhancing both innate and cellular immunity.
Hemp-derived CBD supplements are widely available in many different forms. People take CBD for varying reasons, and many believe it to be a helpful ingredient for balancing the immune system.
CBD works by interacting with endocannabinoid receptors throughout the endocannabinoid system in the human body.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex system in humans and animals that helps regulate functions in the body related to mood, pain/inflammation, sleep, memory, appetite, and more.
The ECS receptors are spread around the human body, including in the innate and adaptive immune systems. Cannabinoids such as CBD can act similarly to endocannabinoids and activate different bodily functions and responses, and thereby help the immune system stay in balance. CBD is a natural ingredient and doesn't produce unwanted side effects commonly associated with THC – the psychoactive compound in cannabis. Hemp-derived CBD is federally legal and safe to consume daily.
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