Help your body resist illness with these immune-boosting herbs.

This information is not intended as medical advice.

Herb

Symptom

Function

Side Effect

Delivery

Astragalus
(Astragalus membranaceus)

Colds, viral infections

Boosts immunity, antiviral

None known

Capsules, tinctures, broths/soups

Codonopsis
(Codonopsitis lanceolate)

Cough, congestion

Demulcent (sooths inflamed mucous membranes), expectorant

None known

Capsules, teas

Echinacea
(Echinacea purperea, E. angustifolia)

Colds, flu, cough, sore throat

Antiviral, antibacterial, boosts immunity, tonic

None known

Capsules, tinctures

Elder flower
(Sambucus nigra)

Colds and flu, sore throat, sinus congestion

Boosts immunity, diaphoretic (promotes perspiration), tonic

None known (root is a strong purgative; should only be prescribed by expert herbalists)

Teas, tinctures

Eucalyptus
(Eucalyptus globulus)

Bronchitis, cough, congestion

Antibacterial, antiviral, decongestant

Allergic reactions

Steam inhalation; topically applied as oil

Garlic
(Allium sativum)

Colds and flu

Boosts immunity, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, tonic

None known

Capsules, powder, eating as food is best, raw or cooked

Gingerroot
(Zingiber officinale)

Colds and flu, sore throat, sinus congestion, nausea

Boosts immunity, respiratory system tonic, diaphoretic, stomach soother

None known

Powder or root made into teas, baths

Goldenseal
(Hydrastis canadensis)

Colds and flu, bacterial infections

Antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory

Strong GI astringent; use with caution in young children; endangered species

Tinctures, teas

Isatidis
(Isatis tinctora)

Colds and flu

Antiviral, reduces swelling

None known

Capsules; works well with astragalus

Licorice
(Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Sore throat

Reduces swelling expectorant, cough suppressant

Can cause sodium and water retention, loss of potassium

Tinctures, teas

Maitake mushroom
(Grifola frondosa)

Colds and flu

Boosts immunity

None known

Powder; eat as food

Onion
(Allium cepa)

Colds, flu

Boosts immunity, decongestant

None known

Powder; eating as food is best, raw or cooked

Osha root
(Ligusticum porteri)

Colds and flu

Boosts immunity

None known; endangered species

Capsules

Peppermint
(Mentha piperita)

Congestion, nausea associated with flu

Pain reliever, antispasmodic, stomach soother, antiviral, antibacterial, diaphoretic

None known

Teas

Sage
(Salvia officinalis)

Colds and flu, fever

Stomach soother, reduces fever, antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory

None known

Teas

Shiitake mushroom
(Lentinula edodes)

Colds and flu

Boosts immunity, antiviral, antibacterial

None known

Powder, capsules, root extract, eat as food

Usnea
(Usnea barbarata)

Colds and flu

Antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral

None known

Tinctures, often used with echinacea

White willow bark
(Salix alba)

Colds and flu

Pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, reduces fever

None known

Teas, works well with cinchona bark

Yarrow
(Achillea millefolium)

Colds and flu

Diaphoretic, expectorant, reduces fever

May cause contractions in pregnant women

Teas