Your immune system is responsible for warding off bacterial, fungal and viral infections that cause disease and illness, such as influenza, thrush and herpes. Immune system impairment can cause a variety of symptoms including fatigue, muscle weakness, susceptibility to infection, tissue inflammation, poor wound healing and heightened allergic reactions. Certain herbal teas may help improve immune system function. However, check with your physician before using any herbal tea to stimulate your immune system.
Dandelions are considered yard weeds in the United States; however, these herbs may offer healing benefits -- Chinese physicians have recommended dandelion tea as a cold remedy for more than 1,000 years, according to Michael Castleman, author of "The New Healing Herbs." They also believed that dandelion could cure ulcers, gum disease, bronchitis and pneumonia. The chemical compounds in dandelion tea may help clear toxins from your body, thereby enhancing your immune system's ability to destroy infection-causing agents. Check with your doctor before taking dandelion tea -- dandelion is a diuretic, and may contribute to dehydration.
Chamomile has a long history of use as a nervous system soother and sleep aid. However, teas made from this herb may also enhance immune system function. The chemical compounds in chamomile may increase your body's production of macrophages and B-lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that destroy bacteria, viruses and fungi. Talk to your doctor if you plan to use chamomile tea for immune system enhancement. In rare cases, chamomile tea may cause nausea and vomiting.
Picrorhiza is an herb native to the Himalayas, and a staple of Ayurvedic medicine. The roots of this herb, which can be brewed as a tea, may improve immune system function by stimulating the production of white blood cells and interferon, an infection-fighting chemical manufactured by your body. Talk to your physician before boosting immune function with picrorhiza tea. This herb may cause loose stools. Also, picrorhiza tea is bitter tasting -- add honey or grated ginger root to offset the unpleasant flavor.
Ginseng first appeared as a medicinal herb in the Pen Tsao Ching, a Chinese herbal manual written more than 5,000 years ago. Ancient Chinese healers believed that ginseng could increase lifespan. Although this herb may not add years to your life, it may help ward off infection by enhancing immune system function. Ginseng tea may encourage both white blood cell and interferon production. Consult your physician if you plan to drink ginseng tea. Although side effects are rare, ginseng tea may occasionally cause insomnia.
- "The New Healing Herbs"; Michael Castleman; 2010
- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing"; Phyllis Balch, C.N.C.; 2010