Anyone who loves cooking or preparing drinks will tell you that herbs can flavor up many dishes and liquid refreshments. Whether it’s a sprig of basil on top of your Fettuccine, sprinkled rosemary and thyme on your chicken marinade, or infused mint leaves on your lemon juice, herbs give a unique flavor to any food. But, these lush leaves — basil, oregano, rosemary, cilantro, thyme and the like — add not only fresh flavor, enticing aroma, and appealing look to food but also have remarkable health and fitness benefits.
One of the body systems that benefit most with herbs is our primary defense system, which is the immune system. In this article, we will look into some of the most common herbs and their amazing effects to boost our immunity. But first, let us discuss some basic info about the body’s defense system against infectious or harmful organisms and other invaders.
What is the Immune System?
Unlike the cardiovascular or respiratory system, the immune system is not easily recognizable by many because it has no identifiable organ like the heart or lungs. However, the immune system is a complex system that involves numerous types of tissues and cells that circulate all throughout the body.
Why is the Immune System Important?
Our immune system has a diverse set of roles. As we have previously mentioned, its main goal is to defend our bodies against harmful substances, infectious organisms, and foreign body invaders. Through a complex process called immune response, our immune system attacks these invaders that may cause illness or disease. In short, it defends our bodies and protects us so we won’t get sick.
Quick Look: Best 5 Herbs that Boosts the Immune System
Boost Your Immune System with These Herbs
Here’s a list of herbs that can keep your immune system fighting at its optimum level:
Basil is a common herb and seasoning mix that can be used in many dishes like Italian food. In fact, it is one of the main ingredients in making pesto sauce. It is also popular with tea lovers due to its anti-aging properties. However, many experts recommend this herb not only because it can fight the effects of aging, but it has anti-inflammatory properties. In a study conducted by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, researchers found out that extracts of basil can reduce swelling of up to around seventy percent (70%) within twenty-four hours of treatment.
Oregano is a Mediterranean and a medicinal herb coming from the mint family of plants. It has been popular for thousands of years ago and has been used widely in medicine and culinary endeavors. It adds a unique flavor to any food and has several health benefits.
Oregano’s known benefits include slowing the progression of certain cancers and boosting the immune process. It has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. A team of Science experts from Germany and Switzerland discovered that oregano is more than just a flavor enhancer. The active ingredient of oregano, termed as Beta-caryophyllene (E-BCP) may aid in treating various disorders like osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis.
Rosemary is an evergreen herb that is also a member of the mint family of plants called Lamiaceae. It is a common kitchen seasoning, not only due to its fragrance but because it is a good source of nutrients and vitamins like calcium, iron, and vitamin B6. You can find rosemary as a powdered extract or as whole dried herbs. Others use rosemary in the form of dried leaves. Tea infusions of rosemary come from liquid extracts or fresh leaves.
Laboratory studies show that rosemary is also rich in antioxidants, which play a major role in combating harmful substances called free radicals. These free radicals are toxic byproducts when oxygen metabolizes in our bodies. They can cause significant damage to some tissues and cells.
Cilantro is an all-around edible plant that is most commonly used in culinary dishes. In China, it is called Chinese parsley, and in the UK, people call it coriander. Experts say that it has been a part of human cuisine since 6,000 BC. Remnants of dried cilantro have also been found in ancient Egypt, which reflects that its use was widespread even in older civilizations.
In a study spearheaded by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition researchers, it was discovered that certain herbs, including coriander, can prevent heterocyclic amine (HCA) from forming when cooking meat products. Although studies only involved testing in rodents, the National Cancer Institute says that this heterocyclic amine (HCA) is a chemical that may increase the risk of cancer.
Thyme is an herb popular for its ornamental, dietary, and medicinal uses. Experts suggest that it has insecticidal, antibacterial, and possibly anti-fungal properties. Researchers from the University of Turin, Italy, discovered that thyme extracts significantly enhanced the eradication of the opportunistic, pathogenic yeast called Candida Albicans in the human body.
Adding these herbs is not expensive at all. You can use them fresh or as supplements. One way to incorporate herbs is by taking detox tea. So, what are you waiting for? Promote overall health for free with these immune-boosting herbs and fend off pathogenic or harmful microorganisms.
If you plan to use any of the herbs listed above, please be sure that you do not have any allergies against any of them. This article is strictly for informational purposes, and it should not be considered as a piece of medical advice.
About the Authors:
Mike Zhang is the founder of the MZF Group. He graduated from the University of Toronto on the dean's list with a Masters Degree in science. Mike was a two time National Muay Thai Champion, and a strength and conditioning coach to several learned athletes. He has over 14 years of experience as a Muay Thai Coach.
Marijune Tiamzon, RN, MHPNP
With nearly 5 years of experience in the medical field, Marijune holds a registered nurse license and a certificate as a mental health nurse practitioner. She is an adventurous young professional, and her hobbies include diving, windsurfing, and saber fencing.
As an avid writer, she is most passionate about sharing acquired knowledge in the medical field and how to apply it to improve the quality of life of our readers.