A properly functioning immune system is a crucial component of good health; all sorts of invaders can potentially make us sick and this bodily system keeps them at bay. While we have not found a way to guarantee protection against cancer, a strong immune system is probably the best weapon we have along with a healthy lifestyle. Whether you frequently get sick, and are looking for a way to boost immunity, or you are just interested in doing all you can to promote optimal health, there are some natural strategies that may help your immune system function at peak levels.
While it is natural to be skeptical of any treatment that appears to be a panacea, research on a variety of mental and physical health issues suggests that meditation may be a powerful tool in promoting overall mental well-being and producing positive physical changes in the body. As someone who has become fully aware of the mind/body connection, this does not surprise me. Meditation reduces stress, that nasty old thing that wreaks all sorts of havoc on our physical health, such as suppressing immune function. Research looking at the effects of this ancient practice on immune system specifically shows it may support it in numerous ways, such as boosting production of natural killer cells.
Acupuncture, another ancient practice that has been getting its due in the West, may also be a powerful tool for helping the immune system function optimally. In the most basic overview, it is thought that there is a vital energy that comprises our lifeforce—it flows through the body on specific pathways and can become blocked or stagnant in certain areas, which then manifests as certain health conditions. Needles are inserted along certain points to stimulate the healing process. Western research has found that this treatment appears to stimulate certain processes in the body that lead to symptom improvement. As far as immunity goes, acupuncture increases production of natural killer cells, one of the primary cells that fight the organisms that make us sick, as well as impacts many complex processes responsible for immune system activity, such as white blood cells fighting off bacteria, viruses and allergies.
Several natural supplements may help strengthen immune system function. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, various types of mushrooms are highly prized for their immune system-enhancing properties; agaricus mushrooms in particular, may be especially beneficial. Other supplements known to stimulate immune system activity include andographis (particularly beneficial for colds), astragalus, garlic, Echinacea, ginseng, turmeric, cat’s claw, reishi mushroom (ganoderma), elderberry, oregano and clove.
When using natural supplements to boost immunity or for any other purpose, it is important to note that it can take time for these supplements to exert their full effects; unlike a prescription drug that may work immediately, they often do not function like this. You must be diligent in taking them regularly for at least several weeks. It is also important to educate yourself about any interactions with medications you may be taking—just like drugs, herbs can negatively interact with medicines.
About the Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer with a strong interest in natural health and alternative medicine .