Ingredient Spotlight: Immune Boosters

Right at the peak of sickness season, it’s hard to not feel an anxious tickle at the back of your throat. It doesn’t help that, according to flu experts, 2018 has already turned into a “moderately severe” flu season. Falling ill is never fun, especially when it makes you miss out on events and use up your vacation days. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to take some of the misery out of being sick?

Nature has some good news for you! There are several plant-based ingredients that can help you overcome a cold faster, or potentially even help you avoid one altogether. In this post we look at three of our favorites: echinacea, elderberry, and vitamin C. Read on for the details, as well as some immune-boosting product recommendations.

Echinacea

Commonly referred to as the coneflower, Echinacea is a popular herb traditionally used to aid the immune system. It’s native to the Americas, and was used medicinally by several Native American tribes before the arrival of Europeans — though not for what we think of today. The Kiowa and Cheyenne used it to treat colds and coughs, while the Pawnee considered it a great headache reliever. The name ‘Echinacea’ comes from the Greek word echinos, which means ‘hedgehog’ — a reference to the spiny center of the flower.

Three species in the Echinacea family are popular for medicinal use: Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea. Many preparations of the herb contain two or even three of these species. Different products may contain different parts of any of these three species, so the efficacy can vary from product to product. This is why it’s so important to choose a high-quality echinacea supplement.

Some studies have suggested that Echinacea may be useful in lessening the amount of time you’re sick if you do catch a bug. One study showed that people who drank echinacea tea every day while sick felt better sooner than those who didn’t. Other studies have suggested that echinacea supplements can help reduce time sick by 58%, or 1.4 days, on average.

It’s important to begin taking echinacea supplements as soon as you begin to feel ill if you want to reduce the amount of time you’re sick. Here are a couple of Smallflower’s best-selling supplements to help you on your way.

 

Smallflower Picks

 

Echinacea Immune Support Tea

by Yogi Tea

$5.57 | Shop Now →

 

Super Echinacea Extract

by Herb Pharm

$15 | Shop Now →

 

Echinaforce Forte

by Bioforce

$23.40 | Shop Now →

 

 

Elderberry

Elderberry, or Sambucus, is a flowering plant native to the subtropical or temperate areas of the world. The flowers on the shrub-like plant turn into berries that transform from green to red, finally ripening at a deep purple to black hue. There are several species of Elderberry, with Sambucus nigra — European Elder — being the most popularly used in medicine.

Many central European cultures cultivate the berries to make sweet, flavored syrup for cooking and baking. The liqueur St. Germaine is created with the flowers of the Elderberry plant.

For centuries, Elderberries have been used to treat a variety of ailments, from wounds to colds and flus. Natural medicine practitioners have traditionally made wine from the berries for use as a painkiller. Elderberries are also very rich in flavinoids, a type of antioxidant — more so than blueberries, cranberries, goji berries, and blackberries.

Some evidence has shown that the chemicals in elderberries may help with reducing swelling in mucous membranes. This includes those in the sinus cavities, leading researchers to believe that elderberries may possibly help relieve nasal congestion. One study also showed that a standardized elderberry supplement called Sambucol could help shorten the symptoms of the flu by up to three days.

Be sure to always use a trusted preparation of elder, though — the raw berries, leaves, seeds, and bark are toxic. They contain a chemical related to cyanide that’s poisonous until properly cooked and processed. Below are our favorite products containing elderberry.

Smallflower Picks

 

Organic Sambucus Elderberry Syrup

by Nature’s Way

$18.99 | Shop Now →

 

Black Elderberry Glycerite

by Herb Pharm

$14 | Shop Now →

 

Elderberry Zinc Lozenges

by Zand Formulas

$2.59 | Shop Now →

 

Vitamin C

Of all the immune boosters out there, you’ve probably heard the most about vitamin C. It’s a vital nutrient for the human body that many of us don’t get enough of. The recommended daily allowance for adults is between 75 to 90 milligrams, though some experts argue that you should take in closer to 500 milligrams daily. Why? Vitamin C is beneficial for many body systems, and a deficiency can potentially result in anything from a decreased immunity to illness to scurvy.

In the body, vitamin C is responsible for several different vital processes. These include absorbing iron, wound healing, growing and repairing tissues, and — of course — the immune system. Studies have shown that taking in more vitamin C can reduce the duration of a cold, and a deficiency causes reduced resistance to bugs.

You probably picture citrus fruits when anyone talks about vitamin C, right? While a cup of fresh-squeezed orange juice is a great source of the nutrient, there are a lot more dietary sources to explore. The following are the foods richest in vitamin C, naturally:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Green peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet Potatoes

If you’re trying to reach 500 daily milligrams, and you’re worried about fitting in the seven to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day, you can always try a supplement. Check out a few of our favorites below.

Smallflower Picks

Immuno Shield

by Irwin Naturals

$20.99 | Shop Now →

 

Infinity-C

by Billy’s Infinity Greens

$39.95 | Shop Now →

 

MKO Vitamin C Orange Tangerine Spray

by Garden of Life

$12.95 | Shop Now →

Sources

Echinacea: Medical News Today  | University of Maryland Medical Center

Elderberry: WebMD | University of Maryland Medical Center | Wikipedia 

Vitamin C: PubMed | WebMD