Chinese Herbs for Immunity by Dr. Randy Martin, OMD
There are many different Chinese herbs that are useful for treatment of various immune problems. The Doctor of Chinese Medicine generally will not, in fact, use single herbs for treatment of immune problems. This is because of the synergistic effects of using formulas. The herbs tend to complement each other and when used in a formula, they tend to be much more effective than when using the single herbs.
So that you can more effectively choose which formulas and herbs you might wish to take for immune problems, I’m offering this brief run-down on some of the more commonly used. I’d like to acknowledge Andrw Gaeddert for an article he wrote which was my inspiration to write this short summary. If you want to do your own research, just do an internet search. There is plenty of information on the net on these herbs.
Isatis – This plant is one of the more commonly used herbs for boosting the immune system. It is contained in many Chinese herbal formulas. It can be used for bacterial infections, for the flu, hepatitiis, mononucleosis and chronic fatigue syndrome. There are many studies on this herb.
Licorice – Many of us know this as a candy, or a tea, but it also is used to build immunity. It can fight cysts and other tumors and also helps to detoxify the liver. Because it is sweet, it supports the spleen. And in Chinese medicine, the Spleen is the organ in charge of immunity. Licorice can also be used to raise blood pressure and to support the adrenal glands. So if you have headaches or high blood pressure, this herb may make them worse. On the other hand, if your headaches are due to low blood sugar, then licorice may cure the problem.
Ligustrum – This herb tonifies the Yin in your body, so it will increase the production of white blood cells and can be used to treat leukopenia. It can be used with people who are undergoing chemotherapy and radiation
Schizandra – This versatile herb is often seen in Chinese formulas for insomnia and anxiety, but it’s also good for the immune system. By helping to deal with stress and fatigue, it will have an indirect effect on the immune system. This is because if you are not sleeping well or you are stressed out, your system is ripe to get sick.
Astragalus – This herb is great for strengthening the lungs and the body’s defenses. It can fight fatigue and improve or tonify your body to help prevent illness.
Cordyceps – This is one of the many mushrooms that you can use for immunity. There are actually many mushrooms, or fungus’ for the immune system. This one is great to help relax you, to strengthen the nervous system and to help the cardiovascular system. It’s used commonly in Chinese hospitals for wheezing, asthma and to prevent colds.
Andrographis – This herb is used to treat infections, such as herpes, sore throat, pneumonia, and the common cold. It is used in many herbal formulas for colds and the flu, bronchitis and even strep.
There are so many herbs that can be used for the immune system. I always tell my patients that the best thing to do is to experiment to see which work best on them. After you have figured this out, then you will always know which one to use to prevent a cold, or to treat a bad flu.
Also be certain to take the appropriate vitamins and to eat a diet which will facilitate a healthy immune system.