Ayurveda is one of the oldest holistic forms of medicine. Ayurvedic herbs have been used from times immemorial to fight and prevent various diseases right from fever and hair loss to diabetes and sexual problems. The role of Ayurvedic herbs to prevent and fight infections cannot be overemphasized to stay healthy and fit. Here are some commonly used ayurvedic herbs that can boost your immunity:
1. Ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng)
Ashwagandha is one of the most common and important herbs of Ayurvedic medicine owing to its wide range of health benefits. It is used as a “rasayana” or herbal tonic from kids to elderly to boost immunity and increase longevity. This popular herb improves the body’s defense against harmful pathogens by improving the cell-mediated immunity. It also possesses antioxidant properties that also protect against cell damage caused by free radicals. Moreover, it also reduces the level of a stress hormone called cortisol thereby alleviating stress.
How to have: Take 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of Ashwagandha root powder (churna) and boil it in 2 cups of water. Add a pinch of ginger. Boil till it reduces to half. Cool the mixture and add honey to enhance its taste. Ashwagandha is also available in the form of syrup (ashwagandharishta) and ashwagandha capsules.
Also Read: Ashwagandha Benefits
2. Giloy (Guduchi)
Giloy is traditionally used in a wide variety of conditions for its combination of anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune modulating and liver supportive actions. It is useful in building up the immune system and the body’s defense against infections. It enhances the activity of macrophages (the cells responsible for fighting foreign bodies as well as microorganisms) and thus helps in early recovery. It is also an anti-inflammatory and antipyretic (that reduces fever) herb. Giloy produces its anti-inflammatory effect through blocking the effect of inflammatory chemicals like histamine and bradykinin. This helps in controlling non-specific allergic reactions in the body.
How to have: Take 2-3 teaspoon of Giloy Juice. Add the same quantity of water to it and drink it on an empty stomach in the morning once a day. You could have Giloy in the form of Giloy syrup (amritarista), Giloy capsule , Giloy extract (satva).
3. Tulsi (Basil)
Tulsi has long been known as a plant loaded with medicinal properties. Well, this could be the reason why this plant is seen in many Indian households. It is rich in essential oils that are beneficial for the nervous system, immune system and the antioxidant system. The antioxidant effect of tulsi protects all organs of the body from oxidative damage. These leaves act as an immunomodulator which means it plays a key role in improving, maintaining and boosting the production of antibodies and prevention of infections.
How to have: You can start your day with a glass of tulsi tea. To make this at home, add 3-4 tulsi leaves to a glass of boiling water. Let it simmer for a few minutes. Have this drink 2-3 times a day. Alternatively, you can eat 4-5 fresh tulsi leaves the first thing in the morning as it is known to boost immunity and keep you healthy all through the day. Tulsi is commercially available in the form of tulsi patra churna (leaf powder), Tulsi beej churna (seed powder) and Tulsi panchang juice.
4. Mulethi (Licorice)
According to the Ayurveda, licorice helps to fight infections by boosting immunity due to its rasayana (rejuvenating) property. Mulethi contains antimicrobial agents that detect and attack unwanted bacteria and germs, protecting you from sickness.
The antimicrobial agent is called glycyrrhizin, which inhibits the growth of the harmful microbes, further protecting you from diseases and infection. The enzymes present in the roots of Licorice plant helps in the production of lymphocytes and macrophages which are the body’s natural defense against microbes, pollutants, and allergens.
How to have: Daily use of mulethi is known to boost immunity. Crush 10 grams of dried licorice plant roots and mix with 200 grams tea leaves. Use this mix to make your everyday chai. For this, add a teaspoon of this mixture to a cup of water. Boil, strain and drink this tea every day to boost your immunity. It is available in the form of Mulethi churna and Mulethi capsules.
5. Amla (Indian Gooseberry)
Amla is a very useful anti-oxidant and liver supportive herb. The fruit is a rich source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B Complex and antioxidants. These nutrients not only flush harmful toxins from the body but also help in fighting the harmful free radicals.
The presence of anti-inflammatory compounds in amla help in lowering the levels of inflammation in the body and thus, preventing infections. It also contains immune-boosting properties, which has a regenerative effect on the immune system and helps fight infections better.
How to have: So making a habit of having an amla in the morning, either in the raw or as a juice can make you less vulnerable to diseases and keep you healthy. For kids, amla in the form of murabba (amla boiled with jaggery or chywanprash) can be used as a spread over rotis or bread, might help them reap the immune-boosting properties. Amla is readily available as Chyawanprash, Amla juice, Amla candy, Amlaki Capsules and Amla murabba.
With inputs from Dr. Deepak Kumar Soni, Ayurvedacharya.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Swati Mishra, Medical Editor)
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