Immune Boosting Supplements

As winter is
upon us, so are runny noses, sneezing and coughing.  Most of the traditional over the counter
medications simply suppress symptoms and potentially cause side effects.  There are many supplements available that have
little to no side effects, are all natural, and fight off those pesky viruses
and bacteria.  In addition, supplements
can be taken as a preventative to boost the strength of the immune system and
prevent infections.

Which immune boosting supplements are
the best?

Echinacea

Echinacea
was used by Native Americans for hundreds of years prior to Europeans settling
the New World.  It is available as a
supplement in teas, tablets, capsules and as a dried herb.  When taken at the onset of an infection, Echinacea
is extremely powerful and can reduce recovery time from bacterial or viral
infections.  Echinacea stimulates the
immune system by increasing interferon and interleukin, which readies the
immune system against potential invaders.

Goldenseal

Goldenseal
has been used for hundreds of years by American Indians as a medication for
inflammatory conditions caused by infections. 
Goldenseal’s immune stimulating properties include antibiotic,
anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. 
When taken at the first sign of the cold and flu, it can prevent the
development of additional symptoms. 
Goldenseal contains an alkaloid called berberine. This is thought to be
the compound that fights bacteria, protozoa and fungi.  Berberine prevents bacteria from adhering to
the walls of tissue surfaces and prevents infection of mucous membranes.  It can be used as a wash to treat conditions
like eczema, ringworm, skin sores, earache and conjunctivitis.


Vitamin C

Vitamin C is
one of the most popular and most common immune system stimulants.  Large concentrations of vitamin C are found
in immune cells and consumed quickly during an infection.   It is
thought to elevate the immune system by stimulating antimicrobial and natural
killer cell activities, lymphocyte proliferation and chemotaxis.  It is readily available in liquid, powder,
capsule or tablet form.


Zinc

Zinc has the
ability to ward off infections like the cold and flu by stimulating almost
every type of immune cell.  It is used in
the lozenge form for conditions, like strep throat and respiratory
infections.  It is available as a
supplement in tablet, capsule and liquid form. 
Zinc also reduces recovery time from surgery by preventing infection and
stimulating growth factors.  Some studies
show that zinc may reduce the duration of an infection.  Zinc deficiency, even mild, impairs immune
function.  Low zinc levels have been
associated with increased risk for diseases, such as pneumonia and ulcers.


Mushrooms

There are
many mushrooms that have powerful immune stimulating properties.  Shiitake mushrooms were originally cultivated
in Asia, but modern growing techniques allow it to be grown anywhere.  Studies show that shiitake mushrooms are anti-bacterial,
anti-viral, and anti-tumor.  Reishi
mushrooms are grown in China and have a host of immune stimulating priorities, including
fighting off bacteria and viruses.  This
mushroom can repel other fungal infections. 
They are also used as prevention and treatment for cancer. 

Side Effects

There are
very few side effects of these immune stimulating supplements.  Do not take these supplements if you have an
allergy or have an autoimmune disease as these will stimulate the immune system
and can potentially exacerbate your condition.

In many
instances, the aforementioned supplements are constituents in combination
products.  Combination products are most
effective and will quickly fight off infection, as the ingredients work via
different pathways.  For maximum
effectiveness, begin taking these supplements prior to cold and flu season and
have these on hand in case you begin experiencing symptoms.  Make sure your multivitamin contains vitamin
C and zinc and take supplements under the direction of a healthcare provider.

 

About Scott
Schreiber

Dr. Scott
Schreiber has been practicing in Newark, Delaware for over 11 years.  He is a chiropractic physician that is double
board certified in rehabilitation and clinical nutrition, a certified nutrition
specialist and a licensed dietitian/nutritionist.  You can learn more about Dr. Schreiber as well as reach out to him via www.drscottschreiber.com.