Immune-Boosting Supplements in a Nutshell

Immune boosting supplements

It seems it’s more important than ever to be sure we do all we can to boost our immune system and ward off infection. While it’s true that a healthy immune system relies on a variety of factors, including nutrition, exercise, stress management, sleep, environmental pollutants, and genetics, we all can also turn to some of the gifts of nature to provide extra support.

The following supplements are a sample of some of the immune-boosting options that are available. Each one has its own special qualities, and some may be better suited for your needs than others. Here’s a review.

Read about 9 top herbs for the immune system

Astralagus

Astralagus is an adaptogen, which means it is an herb with an ability to fight stress, regulate the nervous system, improve mood, and return the body to balance. Because stress is an important factor in compromising the immune system, the use of astralagus can be instrumental in supporting immune function. Many studies have explored the effect of astragalus on the immune system, including one in which the herb helped suppress inflammation.

When taking an astralagus supplement, follow the directions from the manufacturer or consult a knowledgeable healthcare professional.

NATURALLY SAVVY NEWSLETTER
Get the latest information, tips & recipes for healthy living delivered directly to your inbox.
Your privacy is important to us.

Aloe Vera

Aloe has been used both topically and internally for thousands of years. It helps with digestion and nutrient absorption. More recently a “Gold Standard” clinical study on Lily of the Desert products with Aloesorb™ showed a 16% increase in white blood cell counts over the placebo group.

Colloidal silver

Many people are confused about what colloidal silver is and how to use it. The term refers to various forms of silver available as dietary supplements. Basically, colloidal silver is a suspension that contains silver particles as well as silver ions. The particle sizes range from 10 to 1,000 nanometers (nm), and the smaller the particles, the more bioactive the supplement.

Colloidal silver is best known as an antimicrobial agent. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, colloidal silver is active against certain bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and S. epidermidis. Research also shows that the supplement may help eliminate a limited number of fungi as well.

Another way colloidal silver may benefit the immune system is as a booster for antibiotics. The use of the supplement along with amoxicillin, clindamycin, erythromycin, or vancomycin may enhance the powers of these drugs. Use colloidal silver as recommended by a knowledgeable healthcare provider.

Colostrum

Nature is pretty smart, providing a wealth of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antibodies, and other essential ingredients to newborn mammals immediately after they are born. Colostrum is the source of this treasure, which is expressed by mothers during the first day days following birth. This translucent substance also introduces critical beneficial bacteria, namely Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium, to the immune and digestive systems. 

Adults can benefit from colostrum too. Colostrum supplements, which are made from bovine colostrum, can help balance our delicate microbiome and protect our gut lining from invading toxins and disease-causing microbes, such as Escherichia coli, Helicobacter pylori, Campylobacter jejuni, and others.

Colostrum supplements are available as powder, chewable, and capsules. It’s best to take colostrum on an empty stomach 30 minutes before or two hours after eating. A standard dose is 1 to 3 grams daily, but higher doses are suggested for those experiencing significant stress.

Echinacea

Echinacea is a flower that has both antibacterial and antiviral properties. Nature provides us with nine species of Echinacea, but only three of them are used in natural remedies: Echinacea angustifolia, E. pallida, and E. purpurea, so check your supplement labels!

All three contain phenols, which are potent antioxidants. Only E. angustifolia and E. purpurea also have alkylamides or alkamides, which support immune system functioning. Caffeic acid is also present, and this compound has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The infection-fighting powers of Echinacea have been demonstrated in various studies. One meta-analysis that included nearly 2,500 participants showed that the herb reduces the risk of recurrent respiratory infections, especially in vulnerable individuals.

Currently, there is no standard dose of Echinacea. For tinctures, a suggested dose is 0.75 to 1.5 milliliters daily. If you drink the tea, 6 to 8 ounces four times daily is one recommendation. Consult a knowledgeable healthcare provider for additional suggestions.

Goldenseal

Did you know goldenseal is a member of the buttercup family? Goldenseal (Hydrastic canadensis) is often used along with Echinacea because the two herbs complement and increase the potency of the other. In fact, the main benefit of this mixture of herbs is to enhance the immune system. Goldenseal and Echinacea together is a favorite combination herbal remedy for cold, flu, and other infections, including those that affect the sinuses, throat, urinary tract, vagina, intestinal tract, and mouth.

Goldenseal contains berberine, a compound that been shown to kill bacteria, yeast, and parasites. Berberine may also stimulate white blood cells to make them more effective at fighting infections. According to the authors of a study appearing in International Immunopharmacology, for example, berberine may be useful for the treatment of infections with influenza A.

Take goldenseal and Echinacea as directed on the package or discuss your options with a knowledgeable healthcare professional.

Read about 5 ways to boost your immune system

Mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms are valued around the world for their healing properties. Maitake, reishi, shiitake, chaga, lion’s mane, and others have demonstrated abilities to support and enhance the immune system. One of the immune system boosters in these and other mushrooms is glucan, a polysaccharide. Another immune system supporter is superoxide dismutase, a potent antioxidant enzyme found in abundance in chaga mushrooms. These mushrooms, in particular, have been found to have at least seven other antioxidants.

Shiitake and maitake also can stimulate immune response. In a 2014 study, researchers found that a combination of the two mushrooms resulted in the strongest response followed by maitake alone.

Medicinal mushroom supplements should be taken according to the manufacturer’s directions or the advice of a knowledgeable healthcare professional.

Oil of oregano

This aromatic oil is derived from the oregano plant Origanum vulgare) and contains potent compounds with healing qualities. Three of them are carvacrol, which can stop bacterial growth, including Staphylococcus aureus and S. epidermidis; rosmarinic acid, a potent antioxidant; and thymol, a natural antifungal, effective against Candida albicans, C. tropicalis, and C. krusei strains.

Lab and animal studies suggest oregano oil may reduce inflammation and swelling.

Oil of oregano can be used topically or orally (drops, capsules). Use the oil on your skin to fight fungal infections or swollen glands. If you take it orally, use once or twice a day every other day to help prevent cold or flu. If you’re already fighting a cold, a suggestion is to take it every day until symptoms disappear.

Olive leaf extract

Extracts of olive leaf contain a unique molecule called oleuropein, which is found not only in the olive fruit but in the leaves as well. Oleuropein is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient that may have cancer-fighting abilities as well, at least according to some research. For example, olive leaf extract reduced inflammation and inflammatory markers in animal studies, including those involving colitis and Crohn’s disease.

In a 2018 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food, the authors noted that olive leaves are a rich source of polyphenolic compounds shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial abilities. The herb’s antibacterial is limited to gram-positive bacteria.

The standard dose of olive leaf extract is 500 to 1,000 mg daily.

Probiotics

Let’s hear it for beneficial bacteria, aka probiotics, which help keep our microbiome in balance, our immune system running smoothly, and our digestive track purring. Probiotics are so important for all these reasons because about 80 percent of your immune system is found in your gut. If you keep your gut happy by providing it with good bacteria species, especially those from Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, your immune and digestive systems can be happy as well.

Probiotics are also helpful for maximizing the nutrients you derive from your food. If you lack sufficient probiotics to aid with the absorption of nutrients, there’s a chance you will experience nutritional deficiencies and as a result, problems with your immune function.

Generally, you want to take a probiotic supplement that provides at least 10 billion CFUs (colony forming units) daily for maintenance, and a higher dose if you are managing a health challenge. Take probiotic supplements 30 minutes before you have a meal for the best results.

Vitamin C

Many of us begin to pop vitamin C supplements when we feel a cold or the flu coming on, but it’s really important to always keep our levels of the vitamin up in the body. Why? This nutrient, also known as L-ascorbic acid, dissolves quickly in the body and is not stored. Therefore, it’s essential to consume it on a regular basis in food and supplements when needed.

When it comes to the immune system, vitamin C plays several critical roles. Perhaps the most important is its antioxidant properties, which means it helps eliminate disease-causing, cell-damaging free radical molecules. Vitamin C also reduces inflammation and assists with wound healing.

The Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin C for adult men and women is 90 milligrams (mg) and 75 mg, respectively, with an upper limit of 2,000 mg daily. Too much of the vitamin can cause nausea, diarrhea, headache, insomnia, abdominal cramps, and vomiting, so avoid taking too much in supplement form. High vitamin C intake from food does not usually cause a problem.

Vitamin D

The story behind the sunshine vitamin and hormone is that the majority of people are have insufficient levels or are deficient in this essential nutrient. People who have a vitamin D deficiency, for example, and who take a supplement may develop fewer cases of flu or colds. One review showed a 12 percent reduced risk for respiratory infections after people took vitamin D supplements.

According to the Journal of Investigative Medicine, vitamin D has an ability to modulate immune responses, and a deficiency in the nutrient is associated with an increased risk of autoimmune conditions and higher susceptibility to infection.

Before taking a vitamin D supplement, ask your healthcare provider to test your levels. Then you and your doctor can determine the best dose for your needs.

Zinc

Zinc has become almost synonymous with helping manage the common cold. Use of zinc lozenges may reduce how long you have a cold by a day or two if you take them within 24 hours of experiencing symptoms. Zinc also may reduce upper respiratory infections in kids.

Yet this mineral can also help with other immune system attacks. That’s because zinc, which is found in cells throughout the body, helps ward off viruses and bacteria wherever they are. The RDA for zinc is 8 mg daily for women and 11 mg for men. If you are already getting enough zinc from your diet, experts are not certain that taking more from supplements is beneficial.

Quercetin

People take quercetin supplements for a variety of reasons, including a desire to enhance their immunity and reduce inflammation, which in turn can affect a number of health concerns and symptoms like cold and flu viruses as well as seasonal allergies.

immune boosters shopping list

Shopping List

Here are links to the products we mentioned in this article.

For US Shoppers

Astralagus
Aloe
Colloidal Silver
Colostrum supplements
Echinacea
Goldenseal
Mushrooms
Oil of Oregano
Olive Leaf Extract
Probiotics
Vitamin C
Vitamin D
Zinc
Quercetin

For Canadian Shoppers

Astralagus
Colostrum
Mushrooms
Oil of Oregano
Probiotics
Vitamin C
Vitamin D
Zinc
Quercetin

Read this next:

Skin Brushing for Vibrant Health

7 Reasons You Shouldn't Fear the Flu & How to Prevent It Naturally

DISCLAIMER: This article contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, Naturally Savvy will receive a small commission so we can keep pumping out amazing articles like this one. Thank you so much for your support!
Sources
5 facts about goldenseal extract. Everyday Health 2017 Nov 14
Aranow C. Vitamin D and the immune system. Journal of Investigative Medicine 2011; 59(6): 881-86
Ash M. Colostrum meets the microbiome a tried and true remedy for gut health takes centre stage. Clinical Education 2014 Apr 24
Cecil CE et al. Inhibition of H1N1 influenza A virus growth and induction of inflammatory mediators by the isoquinoline alkaloid berberine and extracts of goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). International Immunopharmacology 2011 Nov; 11(11): 1706-14
De Castro RD et al. Antifungal activity and mode of action of thymol and its synergism with nystatin against Candida species involved with infections of the oral cavity: an in vitro study. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015; 15 (article 417)
Goulas V et al. Phytochemicals in olive-leaf extracts and their antiproliferative activity against cancer and endothelial cells. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research 2009 May; 53(5): 600-8
Han X, Parker TL. Anti-inflammatory, tissue remodeling, immunomodulatory, and anticancer activities of oregano (Origanum vulgare) essential oil in a human skin disease model. Biochim Open 2017 Mar 3; 4:73-77
Huang L et al. The effect of astragaloside IV on immune function of regulatory T cell mediated by high mobility group box 1 protein in vitro. Fitoterapia 2012 Dec; 83(8): 1514-22
Kheybari S et al. Synthesis and antimicrobial effects of silver nanoparticles produced by chemical reduction method. Daru: Journal of Faculty of Pharmacy, Tehran University of Medical Sciences 2010; 18(3):168–72.
Martineau AR et al. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. BMJ 2017; 356:i6583
Mercola J. What is colloidal silver? 2019 Mar 30
Morones-Ramirez et al. Silver enhances antibiotic activity against gram-negative bacteria. Science Translational Medicine 2013; 190ra81
Nakajima Y et al. Antioxidant small phenolic ingredients in Inonotus obliquus (persoon) Pilat (Chaga). Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 2007; 55(8): 1222-26.
National Institutes of Health. Zinc
Penn State. Berberine
Qabaha K et al. Oleuropein in responsible for the major anti-inflammatory effects of olive leaf extract. Journal of Medicinal Food 2018 Mar; 21(3): 302-5
Schapowal A et al. Echinacea reduces the risk of recurrent respiratory tract infections and complications: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Advances in Therapy 2015 Mar; 32(3): 187-299
Symbiotics. Frequently asked questions
Vetvicka V, Vetvickova J. Immune-enhancing effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) extracts. Annals of Translational Medicine 2014 Feb; 2(2): 14
Vezza T et al. Immunomodulatory properties of Olea europaea leaf extract in intestinal inflammation. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research 2017 Oct; 61(10)
WebMD. Echinacea.
Zeratsky K. Is it possible to take too much vitamin C? Mayo Clinic

 

Leave a Comment

Lisa Roth Collins is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) and is the Marketing Manager at NaturallySavvy.com. She is passionate about health and wellness and tries her best to make healthier choices every day for herself and her family. Her journey to natural health was driven by her own struggles with digestive discomfort, depression, and anxiety. Lisa returned to school in 2014 to study nutrition at the Canadian School for Natural Nutrition. She threw herself into her studies so she could learn as much as she could to help herself feel better and thrive. Upon completing the program and being certified as an RHN, Lisa began her work at Naturally Savvy where she has been able to help so many people learn to make healthier choices for themselves. Through her work, she has connected with so many incredible people in the industry whether other authors, influencers, or brands. Plus, she is affectionately known as "Techie Spice" because of her ability to wrap her head around technology. Every day she gets up with a renewed sense of energy and ready to make a difference. You can read all of Lisa's content here. In her spare time, Lisa loves to try new recipes, make delicious and nourishing meals, and she is an avid reader. For more information about Lisa, check out her profile on here.