Immune Support


What is immunity?  The ‘first line’ or ‘front line’ of the immune system is actually our tissues themselves. An obvious example is skin- it separates our insides from our outsides and stops the bugs getting in! Some of the other membranes in the body are inside our noses and sinuses, inside our mouths and throats and right throughout our gut. Having strong intact robust tissues and membranes is the foundation of good immunity.



The second line of defence in our system of immune response includes the white blood cells which mobilise to attack invaders and stop them spreading throughout the body. Some of these cells ‘eat’ the bad guys, such as macrophages, while others destroy them by other means, such as Natural Killer Cells (yes that’s really their name!). After these two lines of defence, the third line is the ‘specific’ forces, those cells that have been trained to identify and attack specific targets (this is where antibodies come in).



One of the main principles of Naturopathy is that “prevention is better than cure”. A good immune system is not only constantly fighting off potential invaders (bacteria, viruses etc), it also identifies and neutralises rogue cells that aren’t developing properly, such as cancerous cells. One of most wonderful things about natural medicine is that it gives us tools to improve our immunity, not just offering an ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’ for when infection gets the better of us.


EchinaceaThe root of the echinacea plant has been shown to enhance immunity in several ways:

  • Increasing the production of immune chemicals that activate macrophages (a kind of white blood cell as mentioned above)
  • Increased ability of macrophages to ‘eat up’ the invaders
  • Increased antibody activity
  • Increased Natural Killer Cell activity
  • Increased levels of white blood cells on the job
  • Increased levels of white blood cells getting to the site of the battle when needed!
  • Is directly anti-viral
  • Reduces bacteria spreading


That is a phenomenal list of achievements for one single medicine! Echinacea root can be taken preventatively at one dose daily, or increased to four doses daily as treatment for infection. Remember that only a high-quality extract will have these effects; make sure you get the ‘tingle’ on your tongue when you take your echinacea which shows it is high in the active constituent, the alkylamides.


Other herbal medicines are also beneficial for the immune system, such as Astragalus & Ganoderma.  There are others herbs that help to support specific tissues and functions. For example, herbs such as Mullein and Thyme have an affinity with the lungs, helping to provide immune support for those who are prone to respiratory infections in winter. Herbs such as Marshmallow and Licorice support the health of all ‘mucus membranes’, those membranes we discussed right back at the beginning, inside our noses and throats and guts!

Diet, Nutrition and Nutrients

  • Diet plays a huge role in our immune function, as our food provides the building blocks for our immune cells (white blood cells) and determines the health of our tissues. When our tissues are healthy they have better immune defence. Specific deficiencies have negative impacts on our immunity: Iron, Zinc, Selenium, Iodine, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin D are all linked to reduced ability to fight infections.
  • Avoid or reduce foods that don’t agree with you, as well as ‘empty’ foods that have little nutritional content such as alcohol, refined sugars and flours. Sugars have a direct impact on reducing some white blood cells’ ability to ‘eat’ up or kill invading organisms. Increasing quality proteins and fresh vegetables is key to building good immune function. Eating a rainbow everyday!  Include as many colours as possible from fresh fruit and vegetables as each colour offers specific benefits.  Adding herbs, turmeric, onion, ginger and fresh garlic to your diet also has good effects on your immunity and offers some anti-viral and bacterial properties

Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Poor Sleep Affects Your Immunity.

An increasing body of research proves that the better quality our sleep and the more positive and relaxed we are, the better our immune system is.  Anxiety, grief, stress and depression all significantly impact our ability to fight infections and provide good immune response.