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Natural Immune-Health Products

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All diseases, from colds to cancer, have one thing in common. They can all be defeated by our body's own powerful immune response. There is much we can do to ensure this self-healing system functions optimally. Eating an organic, natural foods diet fortified by taking immune-supporting nutritional and herbal supplements, drinking purified water, exercising daily, and being mindful and positive creates the best self-healing environment.

All diseases, from colds to cancer, have one thing in common. They can all be defeated by our body's own powerful immune response. There is much we can do to ensure this self-healing system functions optimally. Eating an organic, natural foods diet fortified by taking immune-supporting nutritional and herbal supplements, drinking purified water, exercising daily, and being mindful and positive creates the best self-healing environment.

Your local health store provides a wide selection of immune-health products as single ingredients or in combined formulations. Here are eight immune supporters frequently recommended by natural health experts.

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous)

Ten years ago very few people had even heard of astragalus root. Today, this member of the pea family is becoming as popular as echinacea. Alone or in combination with other immune support factors, astragalus is a star player. With hundreds of published clinical studies behind it, this traditional Chinese medicine is widely recognized for its positive effects on the human immune system. It is beneficial whenever immune resistance is low, in cases of all infections, particularly respiratory infections, colds and flu, stress-related immune dysfunction, slow recovery after illness or surgery, and as a complementary treatment for cancer. Daily recommended dosage is between 250 to 500 mg of a standardized root extract with 15 percent polysaccharides.

Cod Liver Oil

Don't make that face! This tried and true remedy actually tastes good now, thanks to better manufacturing methods. Cod liver oil provides natural sources of vitamins A and D, along with omega-3 fats. A study conducted a few years ago in New York City found that children who took cod liver oil in combination with a children's multiple vitamin and mineral with selenium had fewer upper respiratory tract problems and ear infections. On average, a teaspoon a day is the recommended dose for children and two teaspoons a day for adults.

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia)

Echinacea has been used for centuries by European healers and Native Americans and is frequently combined with other immune-boosting plants such as goldenseal. Ongoing research shows that echinacea's active constituents stimulate the immune system to fight viral infections. It's also recommended in cases of laryngitis, cold sores (herpes), tonsillitis, and sinusitis. Select a high-quality organic echinacea (tincture, capsules, tablets, or spray) that contains a full spectrum of standardized active compounds. The average dosage for adults is one full dropper of tincture in water four times a day, or two capsules of freeze-dried extract four times a day. For children ages two to six, use one quarter of the adult dosages; for ages six to 12, use half the adult dosage.

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

Elderberry extract is showing promise as an immune-boosting phytonutrient with antiviral properties. One study conducted in Israel found that subjects with flu who took the extract recovered fully in two days, while it took six days for those taking placebo to recover. Another study concluded that elderberry extract might help activate a healthy immune system and possibly be useful for boosting immunity in cancer and AIDS. Select the brand with the most research behind it.

Garlic (Allium sativum)

Eat it raw or lightly cooked, take it in capsule, tablet, or liquid form, but whatever you do, do garlic! And lots of it. Garlic is probably the single most effective natural antibiotic we know about. Many people prevent contagious infections by doubling their
garlic intake at the first sign of illness. A powerful antifungal (to use against, for example, yeast infections, athlete's foot, or thrush), garlic may also stimulate cellular immunity to cancer.

Medicinal Mushrooms

Maitake (Grifola frondosa), shiitake (Lentinula edodes), and reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) are just three kinds of mushrooms found to have immune-modulating properties. They have also been shown to have anticancer and antiviral properties. Follow the label's directions or consult a qualified herbalist trained in the use of traditional Chinese medicines.

Multiple Vitamin and Mineral

Stress can have a devastating impact on the strength of your immune system. The B vitamins especially combat stress responses while nourishing and soothing the nervous system. Selenium, zinc, and vitamins C and E directly support immune function. Calcium and magnesium also provide antistress benefits. Choose an iron-free formulation unless you are iron deficient, in which case taking a multi with iron will quickly reduce your
susceptibility to infections.

Omega-3 Oils

Oils from cold-water fish such as salmon, cod, sardines, and mackerel are the richest sources of preformed omega-3 fatty acids. Ground flaxseed and flax are also good sources but are not as readily accessible by the body. Clinical studies report that omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory, which means they are especially helpful to people with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, and migraine headaches. The average daily intake is 1,000 to 2,000 mg. Select a product that has been molecularly distilled to remove all pollutants.

We are miraculously designed to heal ourselves. The western world's growing dependence on antibiotics and toxic drugs to combat disease has backfired by creating more virulent strains of bacteria and viruses. It has become increasingly clear that our best defence lies in the strength of our own immune systems.

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