With every cold and flu season, you may seek natural remedies to strengthen the body’s immune defences.
And while there are many ways to boost your immunity, ranging from daily exercise to adequate nutrition, sometimes our bodies are in need of that extra kick. Let’s face it- if we find ourselves falling prey to viruses and other pathogens time and time again, then there must be something out of balance.
And what better way to restore balance in the body than to consume adaptogens?
What Are Adaptogens?
Perhaps you’ve just returned from living off-the grid and haven’t familiarized yourself with the increasingly popular term yet. Despite this, it is almost guaranteed that you have utilized adaptogens in one way or another at some point in your life.
So what are they? Adaptogens are herbs or mushrooms that have therapeutic benefits; mainly relating to helping the body and mind respond- and adapt to- to stressors of all kinds.
Some widely encountered adaptogens include ginseng, ashwagandha, and holy basil.
The Best Adaptogens for Immunity
Now that we’ve established the meaning behind the umbrella term, it’s time to uncover the adaptogens with the best immune-boosting benefits.
This mushroom is acclaimed for its immunity supporting benefits, and for good reason: Reishi, also known as the Mushroom of Immortality, has been clinically shown to boost immunity through immunomodulatory effects.
Studies have highlighted the mushroom’s ability to activate immune cells (such as macrophages) to enhance the body’s defense systems (1). The active constituents of Reishi have also expressed antiviral and antimicrobial activity in recent studies (2).
To make matters even better, the mushroom is now being thoroughly researched for its potential anti-cancer properties, and the results so far are extremely promising. So much so that Reishi has found a place on Cancer.gov, as Western scientists continue to investigate its potential as an adjunct therapy to cancer.
But this scientific research is only proving what many have been claiming for thousands of years, particularly the residents of East Asian countries. Reishi, also known as Lingzhi in China, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine reportedly since the Han dynasty.
So is the Mushroom of Immortality living up to its nickname? We sure think so.
Another adaptogen with potential immune-boosting benefits is astragalus. Similar to Reishi, the herb has been shown to have immunomodulatory effects on the body.
Some studies suggest that the root of Astragalus can activate antibodies and immune cells once ingested (3, 4). While most of the research on Astragalus is carried out on animals, herbalists and holistic practitioners claim that these effects undoubtedly translate to human benefits, too.
The root extract is used to treat and prevent colds, boost immunity, manage allergies, and reduce fatigue. Its high concentration of antioxidants also offers protection against various diseases and heart conditions.
These benefits were first discovered in ancient China and rightfully placed Astragalus root under the spotlight as one of the best immune-boosting adaptogens (after being used for centuries).
3) Elderberry and Elderflower
This adaptogen has made it into the mainstream for treating colds- you can probably find it available at your local pharmacy under the “cold and flu” section!
Both the berries and the flower come from the same plant, and both contain immune-boosting and flu-fighting properties. Studies have highlighted the berry’s potential effects on reducing both the duration and symptoms of a cold (5). Similarly, the bioactives found in Elderflower have exhibited strong immunomodulatory effects, mainly by stimulating immune-cells (6).
Whether you’re supplementing the berry or flower, you may find that the history of the plant corroborates its supposed benefits: for thousands of years across the globe, Elder has been used to battle colds and respiratory infections by a range of different cultures (including the Ancient Greeks).
There’s An Adaptogen for That
As the benefits of adaptogens continue to pique the attention of scientific enquirers, the modern world is being re-introduced to the potent healing potentials of herbs and mushrooms.
What was once deemed as folklore is now being authenticated by the masses- and we’re definitely here for this!
You can now proudly claim, “Feeling a little under the weather? There’s an adaptogen for that.”