Herb/Supplement

Amount To Take

How It Works

Comments

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)

3–5 ml of tincture three times per day.

Polysaccharides (complex sugar molecules) in this herb enhance the activity of certain immune system cells, including white blood cells.

This herb also can be taken daily as a decoction, by boiling approximately 10 grams of the root in water for five minutes, then drinking as a tea.

Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus)

Take 2–3 grams of dried, powdered root and rhizomes daily. Or take 300–400 mg of concentrated solid extract standardized to eleutherosides B and E daily. Another option is 8–10 ml of an alcohol-based extract taken a few times a day.

Polysaccharides and compounds called eleutherosides support immune function; this herb also supports healthy adrenal glands to counteract the effects of stress.

Side effects are uncommon but can include diarrhea and insomnia. Traditionally, two-week breaks are recommended for every two months of daily eleuthero use.

Garlic(Allium sativum)

About one raw clove per day, or chop and add to the end of the cooking process. Another option is tablet or capsule form; follow label directions.

Garlic increases resistance to disease by stimulating the immune system, including white blood cells, natural killer cells, and phagocytes; it has a direct antimicrobial effect by inhibiting growth of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Garlic is very safe to use, although a few people experience heartburn or flatulence.

Mushrooms: cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis), maitake (Grifola frondosa), reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), and shiitake (Lentinus edodes)

Whole, dried mushrooms can be included in cooking. Alternatively, 2–4 ml of tincture can be taken daily in tablet or capsule form; follow label directions.

Polysaccharides primarily account for immune-enhancing effects.

Adverse effects with mushrooms are unlikely, but reishi and cordyceps have been occasionally reported to cause dizziness, dry mouth, and upset stomach; shiitake in high doses has in a few cases been linked to diarrhea.

Probiotics

Active-culture yogurt can be eaten as part of the diet. Alternatively, capsules, powders, and liquids are available and generally taken in the amount of 1–2 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per day.

Probiotics inhibit the growth of bacteria, produce natural substances that kill infectious microorganisms, colonize the gut with a healthy balance of intestinal flora, and enhance the activity of several immune system cells.

Probiotics need to be consumed at least a few times a week to be beneficial. Generally well-tolerated, though reactions include flatulence and constipation.

Sterols/sterolins

60 mg per day.

Sterols and sterolins act on specific white blood cells in the immune system called lymphocytes to ensure the proper balance in the body.

For maximum absorption, take at least 45 minutes before a meal or two hours after a meal. Diabetics should monitor their blood sugar and adapt their insulin level as needed because sterols and sterolins can lower blood sugar levels.

—V.D.T