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Autumn is in fact the best time to strengthen the body and to ensure that the viruses that will spread in the coming weeks do not force you to bed.
The immune system: our defensive barrier
The immune system is a dense surveillance network that includes several organs, cells, and chemical mediators. All of these collaborate day and night to keep us safe from viruses and bacteria with which we come into contact continuously: we ingest them, breathe them and host them on the skin and in the mucous membranes.
When our immune system works properly, we don’t notice these invaders, as it happens if it is weak or not very reactive. The cells of this defensive barrier originate in the bone marrow and from there move into the blood and lymphatic system to protect the whole organism, including peripheral tissues. Being so widely distributed, it is difficult for any pathogen to go unnoticed.
To guarantee immunity from pathogens, the immune system acts by implementing a triple defensive barrier, defined respectively:
- mechanical barrier: it is the first defense mechanism composed of skin, sebum, mucus, epithelium, body temperature, which prevents the penetration of harmful agents into the body;
- innate or non-specific immune response: it is activated when the first barrier fails to defend the organism and the pathogen enters the organism. This defense mechanism is present from birth, and comes into action acting indiscriminately against any external agent;
- acquired or specific immune response: it is the one that develops after contagion with the pathogen. The immune system, in fact, has an exceptional memory: once contact occurs, even after years, the body is able to activate specific cells to eradicate the antigen.
The peculiarity of this system is that it is constantly learning and adapts continuously to allow our body to fight potentially dangerous invaders that change with the passage of time.
A very delicate task that the immune system is called upon to carry out is the distinction between self and non-self cells. Non-self cells are also called antigens and include proteins, which develop on the surface of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Therefore all those organisms are foreign to our body. When the immune system recognizes the antigen, it recalls the cells capable of defeating it so as to defend the organism from the pathogen.
But also the cells that make up our body are covered on the surface by proteins and are called self cells: it is, therefore, important that the defensive system does not activate against them. Generally, the immune system learns from the first years of life to recognize self cells from non-self cells.
However, it may happen that you are mistaken and exchange selfs for non-self cells. In this case, an autoimmune reaction is triggered which generates autoimmune diseases. In practice, it is an excessive immune response: it is the body that shoots itself.
6 plants to strengthen the immune system
Much can be done to strengthen our defensive barrier. The important thing is to leave on time: depending on the general state of health, it can take 2-3 months to have an efficient immune response.
Let’s see what are the remedies that allow you to reinforce this delicate system.
This beautiful plant with purple flowers has properties that stimulate the immune system in an excellent way. It contains polyphenols which are capable of preventing the penetration of viruses into healthy cells. Echinacoside is, in fact, able to inhibit bacterial replication.
According to some studies, echinacea would be more efficient if used to combat recurrent infections and its preventive power is particularly effective against colds. Immunostimulation is useful in the acute treatment of upper respiratory tract infections. A second study highlighted the marked immunomodulatory activity, that is, capable of varying the reactivity of the immune system.
Astragalus is among the adaptogenic plants and is capable of fighting stress and anemia. It contains polysaccharides, saponins, and flavonoids which act as stimulants of the immune system. According to some studies, it is mainly polysaccharides that activate the action of T lymphocytes, the cells of immunity. It is also indicated in the case of low immune defenses.
In Chinese Medicine, it has been used for millennia also for diseases such as colds, upper respiratory tract infections, allergic rhinitis. Having antibacterial and antiviral properties, it is also suitable for fibromyalgia sufferers. Given that it stimulates the immune system, it may not be indicated for those suffering from autoimmune diseases.
In traditional medicine, elderberry is known for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Of this plant are usually used flowers and berries, rich in antioxidants. Orally, elderberry extract is effective against sinusitis, colds, flu, bronchitis, and diabetes. It also has a marked laxative action, therefore useful in case of constipation, as well as diuretic action.
A spoonful of syrup a day is enough to fight the flu symptoms and to relieve the symptoms of sinusitis and chronic fatigue.
Thyme is part of the mint family and is an evergreen plant. The plant contains essential oils, flavonoids, polyphenols, and thymol which perform antibacterial and antimicrobial, as well as antiviral. It has a positive action against bronchitis, cough, sore throat.
According to some studies, it would be able to prevent damage to the DNA of lymphocytes. Therefore, it has a protective action on our genes. The quercitin of which it is rich inhibits histamine, the substance that, in excessive doses, can trigger the allergic response.
The most common spontaneous rose boasts concentrated doses of vitamin C, mainly contained in rose hips, false fruits. To understand the content, just think that 100 g of rose hips contain the same amount of vitamin C as 1 kg of citrus fruits.
This makes it an excellent immunostimulant, particularly suitable for those who have recurrent respiratory diseases. In addition to allowing natural reinforcement of defensive barriers and increasing antibody production, vitamin C also helps fight excessive histamine levels.
In the case of cooling and mucus production, the dog rose also acts as a mucolytic. Thus, facilitating the fluidification and elimination of dense substances.
Ayurvedic medicine has used ginger root since the dawn of time to strengthen the immune system. According to Indian experience, it would be able to eliminate the accumulation of toxins in our organs. Thanks to its warming effects. It is also known for its ability to cleanse the lymphatic system. The network of tissues and organs that help eliminate toxins from the body, but which can often become intoxicated when the buildup becomes excessive.
Ginger root and essential oil are able to treat a large number of diseases. Thanks to the immunostimulating and anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger is particularly effective against inflammatory diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
The naturopath recommends: myrrh incense
You can also strengthen your immune system by air. Thanks to aromatherapy.
In this case, I recommend the myrrh essential oil. In the world, this resin has been used for centuries as a remedy to treat hay fever, disinfect wounds, and stop bleeding. But it also has the power to strengthen the immune system. Thanks to its antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. According to a 2012 study, myrrh expresses its antiviral capabilities to the maximum when combined with frankincense essential oil. Together these two essences would be able to intervene on a large number of pathogens.