(NaturalNews) The beauty of the natural world extends far beyond just the aesthetic characteristics that make plants and shrubs visually appealing. Some of the most powerful healing and immune-boosting agents in existence can actually be found growing unassumingly in fields, forests, and jungles around the world -- and many of them have yet to be fully realized for their therapeutic potential. Still, there are plenty of herbs we do already know about that have demonstrable, scientifically-proven health benefits you can begin taking advantage of today.
Here are five such herbal tinctures you and your family can take for their powerful immune-boosting properties:
1) Astragalus. A powerful tonic long used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus), also known as milk-vetch and locoweed, is one of the most potent and restorative food plants you can consume to improve your immunity and "strengthen the exterior," as the ancient Chinese would say. Said to tonify the spleen, blood, and "chi," astragalus herbs help boost energy levels; restore damaged immunity; regenerate tissue; inhibit the growth and spread of cancer; and strengthen the heart, liver, and lungs, among other functions. (http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/astragalus-000223.htm)
"Astragalus is a powerful 'non-specific' immune system stimulant," says the website Blessed Maine Herbs. "Instead of activating our defense system against a specific disease organism, astragalus nourishes immunity by increasing the numbers and activity of roving white blood cells, the macrophages. As an immunostimulant, astragalus engages and activates every phase of our immune system into heightened activity."
2) St. John's Wort. Commonly used as a treatment for mild depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, and pain, St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is another immune-boosting herb that contains an array of antioxidants, flavonoids, essential oils and other compounds that work synergistically to reduce inflammation and promote healing and wellness. Because of its strong antiviral and antibacterial properties, St. John's Wort is an effective "bug" cleanser that eases the overall burden on the immune system.
Interestingly, researchers have learned that St. John's Wort both increases and decreases immunity depending on the function, which is why it is also considered to be an adaptogen, or tonic, just like astragalus. When fighting harmful pathogens or viruses, St. John's Wort boosts immune capacity in order to wards off disease. But when it comes to wounds and other injuries that typically elicit an inflammatory response, St. John's Wort minimizes this response as much as possible to protect the body against further damage. (http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2005/10/18/st-johns-wort/)
3) Sage. You might not think of it as much more than a common cooking spice, but sage (Salvia officinalis) contains a unique combination of disease-fighting compounds that make it a powerful immune protector. According to Blessed Maine Herbs, sage contains an impressive array of antioxidants, trace minerals, essential oils, and other nutrients the help reduce stress, which is a common cause of disease, as well as fight the aging process.
Native American tribes actually used to chew the leaves of sage as a strengthening tonic because the herb is both a broad-spectrum, all-natural antibiotic and a powerful immune stimulant. If you suffer from frequent sore throats, upper respiratory illnesses, or infections, sage is a great option for not only overcoming these conditions, but also building up your own innate immunity so that these conditions do not come back in the future (or at least not as often).
4) Garlic. Garlic (Allium sativum) gets a lot of attention here at Natural News, and this is not an accident, as this powerful herb possesses so many health benefits that it is almost impossible to list them all in one article. But if vibrant immunity is something you are serious about, incorporating garlic into your health arsenal is essential, as it fights harmful bacteria and viruses; targets detrimental parasites and fungi, and boosts immune function.
"Garlic is rich in antibiotic powers and strengthens the immune system," states Blessed Maine Herbs. "Garlic is also active against herpes simplex, influenza B, HIV and many other serious illnesses," adds the site, noting that garlic is also rich in organic sulfur, or methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), a necessary nutrient for regenerating cells; maintaining proper organ function; regulating blood sugar; and resisting disease. (http://www.naturalnews.com/026797_sulfur_organic.html)
5) Hyssop. Numerous passages in the Bible's Old Testament refer to hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) as a ceremonial cleansing herb, which is where many people will likely recall hearing about the plant, if they have even heard of it at all. But this ritualized use is not an accident, as hyssop really does contain a variety of healing agents such as caffeic acid, camphor-like constituents, essential oils, and other compounds that strengthen immunity and protect the body against foreign invaders.
Patients with AIDS symptoms, for instance, have experienced incredible success and recovery as a result of taking hyssop, as the herb cleanses the blood. Hyssop also rids infected cells of other common viral diseases such as herpes and influenza, as well as treats colds, coughs, congestion, asthma, and sore throats, among other conditions.