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11 spices to boost immune system.

Updated: Mar 30, 2021

Everyone knows what a virus is, but it's not always clear how to treat a viral infection. Antibiotics have no effect on these infections, and the drugs that can be used are limited. And it is mainly thanks to our immune system that we can recover and heal from a viral infection.

For a strong immune system, a healthy and balanced diet is essential, and certain herbs and plants are of great help in fighting infections, thanks to their medicinal properties.

1. Oregano

Oregano is an herb from the mint family. It has been known for its medicinal qualities. Its warm smell is due to a chemical called Carvanol which has a powerful antiseptic effect. The best way to use it is oregano oil, taken under the tongue with olive oil, at a ratio of one drop of oregano oil to one drop of olive oil. (1, 2, 3).

2. Garlic

Garlic is one of the most popular natural remedies and has a multitude of beneficial health effects. Garlic improves the response of certain protective immune cells on the “first line” against an infection, (6) and also has a direct antiseptic effect on viruses, especially influenza.

Used in our grand mothers' recipes for a long time, it is better to consume it raw because the active ingredients deteriorate during cooking. If you prefer it cooked, mash it before cooking to keep the maximum benefit. (7)

3. Turmeric/ Curcumin

Turmeric has great medicinal properties. Its English name turmeric is inherited from the French "terre mérite" in reference to the benefits of this root on health, and in particular its antiviral properties. Like garlic, incorporating turmeric into our diet can be extremely beneficial during an infection. (8) Turmeric is found in powder form, the most common form, which we can consume as an infusion when we are sick. We recommend 2 to 3g per day, combined with black pepper to improve bioavailability. Turmeric also exists also in capsules which usually contain a bigger dose of turmeric. (8)

4. Licorice

Licorice contains active substances (glycyrrhizin, liquiritigenin and glabridin) which have powerful antiviral properties, especially against viruses such as herpes, HIV (9,10). A 2003 study had also shown that it could have an effect against the virus linked to SARS (11).

Licorice is found in the form of dried chewable sticks, or in the form of infusion or decoctions, but also in powder for dessert. Be careful, however, not to consume it big quantity as it can have side effects, in particular a stimulating effect which can affect sleep.

5. Green Tea

Green tea is one of the most popular drinks and has many benefits thanks to compounds called catechins. Catechins have shown various antimicrobial properties, with an effect both on the infectious organism and on the mechanism helping fighting these organisms. It also helps prevent infectious diseases. (12,13) Drinking green tea when you are sick also helps keeping a good level of hydration, essential to fight infection.

6. Fennel

Fennel is a species of flowering plant in the carrot family. Some studies have found it to have a powerful antiviral effect, especially against the herpes virus and certain respiratory viruses. Choose white fennel, unblemished and fairly firm with very green and undamaged stems at the top of the bulb, and eat raw or cooked according to your preferences! (14) Fennel also strengthens the immune system and decreases inflammation, helping to fight any infections. (15)

7. Rosemary

Rosemary is an herb containing various compounds which have amazing health benefits (16)

One of these compounds is oleanolic acid which has a direct antiviral effect against many viruses such as influenza, herpes simplex or hepatitis A virus (17, 18). Rosemary is used in cooking, but it can also be consumed in the form of herbal tea, by infusing sprigs of rosemary directly in boiling water.

8. Sage

Sage's antiviral properties come from an agent called Safficinolide which is found in the leaves and stems. (19). IThanks to this compound, sage is effective against various viruses, including herpes virus. Like rosemary, sage is used in cooking, but can also be consumed as herbal tea several times a day. (20, 21).

9. Sambucus - Eldeberry

Elderberry is a flowering plant, used in a variety of products, essences and pills, to treat infection, by inhibiting the multiplication of the virus in the body, stimulating the immune system, and reducing respiratory symptoms during infection. viral (22, 23). Elderberries and flowers should always be eaten cooked, as they contain a toxin that is eliminated during cooking. The elderberry is consumed in the form of juice but also of syrup which one finds in the trade, but also in the form of herbal teas made from the dried flowers.

10. Peppermint

Peppermint contains various active components. One of them is rosmarinic acid. This acid has remarkable pharmacological properties, in particular anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-viral, of great help during a viral infection (24, 25).

Peppermint exists as leaves, that can be consumed in herbal tea, but also as an essential oil.

11. Cinnamon

Cinnamon or Cinnamomum zeylanicum (CZ) has been used in traditional medicine for years. Among all of its health benefits, cinnamon has an antimicrobial effect helping to fight infections. (26) If you want to take advantage of its benefits, the easiest way is to add a teaspoon of cinnamon to your diet, for example in cottage cheese, on your cereals, on a fruit salad, etc... (26)

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