Immunity boosting medicinal herbs 1

The practice of consuming medicinal herbs to boost immunity and improve health has been prevalent from ancient times. In the Vedic period, people believed that drinking the juice of the soma plant could bestow immortality. The Atharva Veda has a lot of accounts of the medicinal and extraordinary properties of various plants. The ancient scriptures have over 15000 herbs mentioned but only about 900 are used in the ayurvedic medicines. This practice of using medicinal herbs has been continued for ages and is still practiced and used by many. The consumption of these medicinal herbs is still common because of the availability of the herbs and the fact that they have no side effects. Most of these herbs have been disregarded in the research and analysis and hence there isn’t much information on the veracity of these nor on the critics of these methods. But it has been proved that many herbs have antioxidant antimicrobial properties.

In a paper published by NCBI, the authors say that medicinal herbs are ‘Gifted Gods’ for healing, supporting, and rehabilitating patients. It states that Ayurveda, Unani, Siddhi, Homeopathy, Romanian, Persian, Chinese traditional medicinal plants might have the capacity to boost immunity, however, there is no substantial evidence and the effectiveness is still being tested. According to the paper, one single herbal species comprises plentiful Phyto-constituents to create a pharmacological effect. They also recommend consuming medicinal herbs as an alternative strategy to battling the current pandemic. The paper goes on to say that the beneficial impact of these medicinal plants is the secondary products of these like steroids, alkaloids, glycosides, etc.

In India, 20000 medicinal plant species are recorded; however, only 800 are used commonly to treat diseases. Here are a few medicinal herbs that can boost immunity:

Aloe Vera is known to be rich in amino acids, polysaccharides, vitamins, and even minerals, which as active ingredients, characterize its medicinal effects. Aloe Vera contains the aloin chemical, which is involved in restricting the progression of cancer in the body. It interferes with the cell cycle of the tumor cells, and through the activation and deactivation of different enzymes and proteins, it prevents the rapid division of the tumor. Aloe Vera also contains vitamins that inhibit the action of the hormones involved in inflammation The inflammatory response, which is an important action of the immune system, can after a point of time, cause damage to healthy tissues. Aloe Vera prevents this damage and helps in regulating the action of the immune system, making it generate a more effective response. Apart from its anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties, aloe Vera also contains active ingredients that can destruct bacterial cell walls. This helps in enhancing the action of the immune system, by destroying the pathogenic bacteria infecting the body.

Immunity boosting medicinal herbs

Gamabhari- It is one of the Dashmoola groups of herbs which is the group of ten roots. The plant has been said to treat Vata and pitta and is usually used as an antimicrobial, anti-diabetic, agent.

Ashwagandha is considered to be an important Ayurvedic herb, which has over the years, gained prominence as an immunity booster. It is adaptogenic in nature, which basically means that it enhances the immune system of the body, to withstand the stress of a disease or ailment. As the tolerance of the immune system to the diseased condition increases, it naturally prevents the person from succumbing to the condition. Apart from strengthening the immune system, Ashwagandha is also involved in enhancing the cell-mediated response of the immune system, which is primarily activated in the case of viral diseases. Macrophages, which are important components of this response, get heavily regulated by the alkaloids (metabolites) that are present. The alkaloids facilitate the phagocytosis process (the immune cell uses this mechanism to digest the pathogens), helping in the effective destruction of the infected host cells in the body.

Tulsi, which is commonly known as holy basil, has direct applications in curing diseases caused by a wide spectrum of pathogens, such as fungi, bacteria, viruses, Protozoa, and so on. Due to its broad approach, it has always been recommended for consumption, to guarantee an overall healthy immune system, almost devoid of the ailments caused by these pathogens. The power of tulsi lies in its active ingredients such as oleanolic acid and eugenol, which help in increasing the production and enhancing the activity, of the helper T cells and natural killer cells. These cells play a generalized role in signaling the entire body about the pathogenic infection, through the production of chemicals known as cytokines. As tulsi will indirectly help in increasing the production of cytokines, the body will be alert and will be able to effectively eliminate the pathogen, before it rapidly progresses in the body.

Neem, which is extremely rich in the secondary metabolites called terpenes, has been known to play a part in regulating the non-specific, innate immunity of the body. Unlike the cells involved in the production of antibodies specific to the pathogen, the cells of the innate immunity, produce a generalized defense response, regardless of the pathogen. Neem contains a specific terpene called Azadirachtin, which plays a role in up-regulating and down-regulating the immune system, as and when required. In case the pathogen load in the body is high, it triggers inflammation as well as phagocytosis, to fight off the disease. However, at times, even after the pathogen has been eliminated, the immune system may continue reacting, increasing the risk of autoimmune conditions. For example, the production of cytokines by helper T cells may continue, leading to cytokine storms and the destruction of healthy tissues and organs. It is in this case, that neem helps in alleviating the immune system stress, by suppressing the different mechanisms.

Turmeric, which has prominent anti-oxidant properties, has only recently been accepted as a strong contender for curing certain diseases such as cardiac arrest or cancer. The active ingredient in turmeric, which is curcumin, helps in regulating the concentration of the gut microbiota. The gut microbiota is basically the good bacteria that occupy the intestine and plays a role in metabolism, as well as antibody production against pathogens that enter the gastrointestinal tract. If the composition of the gut microbiota, undergoes a change in any circumstance, it can play a major role in failing the immune system against diseases. Curcumin, by controlling the level of gut microbiota, not only helps prevent diseases but also helps in curing or nullifying their effect on the body.

Garlic is another important herb, that is well known for its ability to fight cold or flu viruses. The active, sulfur-containing compound in garlic, called allicin, is involved in triggering the action of all-important cells, that are a part of both, the innate as well as adaptive immune systems. This allows the viral load to rapidly decrease in the body, before it can produce certain disease symptoms. Also, due to the ability of allicin to regulate gut microbiota, E. coli or Salmonella, which are pathogens of the digestive system, can be effectively eradicated




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