In the current global health crisis, COVID-19 is creating waves of fear amongst the people. However, to prevent and overcome the symptoms of Corona Virus, strengthening one’s immune system is believed to build a first line of defense against the noxious infection. To build an individual’s immunity, it is recommended to consume a healthy and well-balanced diet comprising of immune-boosting ingredients regularly.
Since ancient times, there have been many herbs, spices, and natural ingredients in use to boost the immunity and lead a healthy life. With over 80 spices and herbs with medicinal properties, several of these are grown and been extensively used as traditional medicine. According to World Health Organization (WHO), 80% of people across the world, especially in Europe and Asia, use herbal medicines for health care.
The natural and herbal ingredients are safe, have anti-inflammatory and anti-pyretic properties and help strengthen the immune system. Unlike the allopathic medications, these herbs are gifts of nature, which have no side effects upon consumption. Here is a list of natural herbs and spices that can help boost immunity.
- Basil or Tulsi – Commonly called as the holy basil, this plant decorates the yard of many houses in India. The leaves of this plant are rich in chlorophyll, vitamins, and minerals, phytonutrients such as antioxidants and flavanol. In addition, they also contain Eugenol, a bioactive compound that has anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, which can help reduce stress and plasma glucose levels. Chewing 4-5 fresh clean basil leaves every morning or infusing them in your morning tea can help boost immunity.
- Fenugreek – Fenugreek is a popular herb used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. It acts a natural anti-oxidant and helps strengthen immune system. Methi is widely used as a herb in dried or fresh leaves, spice as seeds, and as fresh leaves. It is also as used as a condiment in flavoring of maple syrup and in steroids production. Fenugreek seeds are rich in Vitamin E and hence, are added as preservatives in pickles. Herbal tea made with fenugreek, honey and lemon is a traditional and natural remedy to treat fever.
- Ginger – Ginger is a well known vegetable known for its anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties. In traditional medicine, ginger has been extensively used for treating cold, cough, nausea, asthma, gastrointestinal complaints, travel sickness, morning sickness, arthritis, and even depression. Widely preferred to be consumed as ginger tea (by boiling crushed ginger with tea leaves and water). Powdered ginger mixed with crushed cloves, cardamom, and black cumin seeds have been used for curing digestive ailments since ancient times.
- Garlic – Garlic is widely used for its potent anti-oxidant properties. It helps in reducing stress and high blood pressure. It also helps to increase absorption of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) in the body and prevents a condition called beriberi. It is always recommended to chop or crush garlic before consuming it, because it works better when in contact with oxygen. Garlic is widely used to add flavor to almost every cuisine across the world.
- Kabasura Kudineer Chooranam – Kabasura Kudineer Chooranam is a herbal powder and a poly herbal medicine made of 15 natural herbs in equal proportion. Widely consumed as a concoction or decoction, Kabasura Kudineer is an effective medicine to boost immunity and treat fever, cold, cough, flu, and other symptoms. It has antipyretic, analgesic, anti-tussive, anti-inflammatory, and immuno-stimulatory properties and hence recommended by Siddha practitioners and Ministry of AYUSH for relief from viral infections.
- Turmeric – Turmeric is a commonly used spice used in Indian cuisine. It has a bioactive compound known as curcumin, which acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. It can also be consumed as a decoction made with grated ginger, and Tulsi. This when consumed once daily is believed to improve immunity and is recommended by Ministry of AYUSH.
In addition to including these herbs and spices in your regular diet, one needs to exercise both body and your mind and make necessary lifestyle changes for improved immunity.