Elderberry, Echinacea, and Forsythia
Our immune system is a very important and crucial part to our well-being and survival. This system of ours is made up of white blood cells and molecules which in high concentrations can be found in all of our lymphoid tissues, our liver, gastrointestinal tract, and our lungs. To avoid catching certain diseases and illnesses, our immune system needs to be functioning very well so it can help protect us. There are many ways in which we can boost our immune system, but for now I will be going over three of them.
One of the more popular ways to support our immune system, or to boost it, is to take elderberry preparations during the start of seasonal changes or taking it at the first sign of sickness. Elderberry (sambucus nigra, s. canadensis) is a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and anthocyanins. (Elderberry as a Medicinal Plant, 2017) Anthocyanins are associated with the flavonoids that are found in plants. They are highly beneficial to the support of our immune system and overall well-being due to the antioxidant properties and how they act as free-radical scavengers. (Lila, 2004) It is important to remember that there are precautions to take when using elderberry. Do not use elderberries in your preparations that are unripe or uncooked because they can be poisonous at this stage. It is recommended that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding do not take elderberry unless you have consulted with your primary care physician or OBGYN beforehand. Also, it is vital to ask your doctor about the safety of taking elderberry products if you suffer from an autoimmune disease. If you are currently on any medications, consult with your doctor first because elderberry is contraindicated for certain medications. ("Elderberry", 2016)
Another commonly used herb for boosting the immune system is the use of Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia). There are several different species of Echinacea but the Echinacea angustifolia variety is considered the most medicinally effective according to the NAT 211 Anatomy & Physiology II textbook written by Dorene Petersen, president of American College of Healthcare Sciences. (Petersen, 2016) Echinacea contains isobutylamides and cynarin, which give this herb its immune boosting properties. Echinacea is commonly used in the treatment of viruses such as the cold or the flu. It is also used to treat respiratory infections such as bronchitis. Echinacea has powerful antioxidant properties that stimulate our immune system to conquer invading germs. (Mohammadhassan, 2016) The use of Echinacea is generally considered safe when it is used appropriately, but is contraindicated for patients with systemic diseases and autoimmune diseases. (Petersen, 2016)
Lastly, I want to introduce you to an herb that is used in traditional Chinese medicine. This herb is often referred to as Yin Chiao, Honeysuckle Forsythia, or Lian Qiao. Forsythia suspensa is a native plant to China but is commonly grown in the United States as a garden plant due to its bright yellow flowers. Forsythia contains many caffeic acid glycosides which provide the strong antibiotic properties. ("Forsythia Uses, Benefits & Dosage - Drugs.com Herbal Database", 2009) In an article published by Penn State University, it states that forsythia (forsythia suspensa) and honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) are commonly paired together and prescribed in traditional Chinese medicine to rid the body of heat and wind excess to treat for the common cold and flu viruses. (Che, Wang, Sum Chow, & Wai Kei Lam, 2013) ("Traditional Chinese Medicine/TCM and Cold and Flu", 2017) Forsythia is a vital ingredient in a liquid extract medicine called Shuanghuanglian. It is blended with other herbs which include honeysuckle and baikal skullcap root. This liquid blend is used to treat respiratory issues that are associated with the cold and flu. ("TCM take on swine flu - It's pathogenic heat, cold and damp -- china.org.cn", 2009) It is highly recommended and important for anybody looking into using Chinese medicine as treatment for any ailments to consult with a licensed Chinese medicine practitioner who is thoroughly trained and experienced in Chinese medicine.
As you can see, there are plenty of natural ways that we can help boost our immune system to protect us from harmful bacteria. Elderberry, Echinacea, and the use of Forsythia are just three of the ways people have been using plants in a holistic manner to avoid getting sick or to treat the onset of an illness. Many people prefer natural medicines rather than reaching for the closest medicine in the pharmacy because plant medicines are more gentle on our system and can have less side effects than allopathic medicines. As always, speak to licensed practitioners or your medical doctor before starting any natural medicines as there can be contraindications which are dangerous.
Che, C., Wang, Z., Sum Chow, M., & Wai Kei Lam, C. (2013). Herb-Herb Combination for Therapeutic Enhancement and Advancement: Theory, Practice and Future Perspectives (1st ed., pp. 5127-5128). Basel, Switzerland: MDPI Open Access. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.360.9477&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Elderberry. (2016). University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved 23 March 2017, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/elderberry
Elderberry as a Medicinal Plant. (2017) (1st ed.). Alexandria, VA. Retrieved from https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/ncnu07/pdfs/charlebois284-292.pdf
Lila, M. (2004). Anthocyanins and Human Health: An In Vitro Investigative Approach. NCBI. Retrieved 23 March 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1082894/
Mohammadhassan, R. (2016). ANTIVIRAL ACTIVITY OF ECHINACEA (ECHINACEA PURPUREA). Academia.edu. Retrieved 23 March 2017, from http://www.academia.edu/29028251/ANTIVIRAL_ACTIVITY_OF_ECHINACEA_EC HINACEA_PURPUREA_
Petersen, D. (2016). NAT 211 Anatomy & Physiology II (1st ed., p. 228). Portland, OR: American College of Healthcare Sciences.