Herbs to improve your immunity

On the whole the immune system does a remarkable job of defending against disease-causing microorganisms but sometimes it fails and a germ will invade successfully causing sickness. Whether a person succumbs to pathogens often comes down to the state of their body with stress, fatigue and nutrition all playing a part. There are many ways to keep the immune system healthy including eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep but there is no quick fix.

Below are some herbs, grouped by their actions, which may help support a healthy immune system in combination with general healthy living strategies.


Anti-allergics: These herbs modify an overactive immune response. Anti-allergenic herbs include albizia, baical scullcap, chamomile, feverfew, hemidesmus, nettle leaf, perilla and reishi.


Anti-inflammatories: Reduce inflammation and assist pain. Anti-inflammatory herbs include albizia, arjuna, baical scullcap, boneset, calendula, cat’s claw, chamomile, chickweed, coleus, dong quai, echinacea, elderberry, eyebright, garlic, graviola, grindelia, ivy leaf, liquorice, maritime pine, nettle leaf, parsley root, paw paw, perilla, poke root, pomegranate, rehmannia, reishi, rue, slippery elm, teasel root, turmeric, uva ursi, white willow, withania and yarrow.


Antimicrobials: These include antibacterials, herbs which elicit a specific immune response to bacterial agents or have a direct antibacterial activity upon certain species of bacteria, antifungals which do the same but on fungi of various genus and species and antivirals which help eradicate viral organisms. Antimicrobial herbs include baical scullcap, barberry, buchu, calendula, cat’s claw, cinnamon, echinacea, elderberry, elecampane, fennel, garlic, golden seal, graviola, green tea, horseradish, hyssop, juniper, lemon balm, maritime pine, parsley root, paw paw, pau d’arco, pomegranate, rue, sage, St. John’s wort, Siberian ginseng, thuja, thyme, uva ursi, wild indigo and  yarrow.


Antioxidants: Protect against oxidation and free radical damage. Antioxidant herbs include andrographis, astragalus, bilberry, cat’s claw, chickweed, cinnamon, elderberry, garlic, ginkgo, graviola, green tea, hawthorn, Korean ginseng, maritime pine, olive leaves, parsley root, perilla, pomegranate, rosemary, saffron, sage, St. Mary’s thistle, schisandra, slippery elm, thyme, turmeric and withania.




Antipyretics (febrifuges): Herbs that reduce or prevent a fever. Antipyretic herbs include andrographis, baical scullcap, feverfew, lemon balm, ladies mantle, rehmannia, white willow, wild indigo and yarrow.


Diaphoretics (sudorifics): Herbs which promote sweating during a fever. Diaphoeretic herbs include angelica, boneset, bupleurum, capsicum, chamomile, elder flowers, elecampane, garlic, golden rod, ginger, hemidesmus, hyssop, lemon balm, lime flowers, peppermint, prickly ash, vervain and yarrow.


Immune enhancers (immune stimulants): Herbs which stimulate one or more aspects of the immune system. Immune enhancer herbs include andrographis, cat’s claw, codonopsis, echinacea, golden seal, Korean ginseng, liquorice, poke root, reishi, Siberian ginseng, thuja and wild indigo.


Immune modulators: Herbs which modulate and balance the activity of the immune system. Immune modulator herbs include astragalus, cat’s claw, cinnamon, dong quai, echinacea, elderberry, garlic, glossy privet, pomegranate, reishi, Siberian ginseng, teasel root and withania.


Lymphatics: Herbs to improve the flow of lymphatic fluid or increase lymphatic drainage (detoxification). Lymphatic herbs include blue flag, calendula, clivers, echinacea, poke root and wild indigo.