Infection-Fighting Herbs

Germs are everywhere. Some take up residence in our bodies and do us good, such as the friendly bacteria that colonize the linings of the intestines, upper respiratory tract and lower urinary system, out –competing bad microbes, contributing to immune defense and good digestion. Other microbes-viruses, bacteria, parasites-wreak havoc when they invade our bodies.

Fortunately, a number of herbs have antimicrobial effects. Many of these herbs are culinary herbs and spices, such as garlic, ginger, thyme and cinnamon. That means, no matter where you are, you can probably find a herbal ally at the local grocery store.

•Garlic promotes immune function and has antibacterial activity. It also tackles fungi and parasites.

•Ginger has scientific backing as an anti-nausea agent. It may offer other benefits to those stricken with infections and diarrhea. Ginger has antifungal activity against the yeast Candida albicans. It also discourages intestinal worms.  It may be best to consume ginger raw or in the tincture or capsule form.

•Cinnamon has antibacterial and antihelminthic (anti-worm) effects. Other culinary spices and herbs that fit into this category include clove, nutmeg, chili peppers (including cayenne), horse radish, cumin, and tamarind.

•Echinacea has some antiviral and antibacterial properties.

•Black Elderberry and Licorice are two other herbs to keep handy during the cold and flu season. Elderberry has antiviral activity against influenza viruses and enhances immune function. Licorice root is demulcent (soothing), expectorant (expels respiratory mucus), antiviral, and immune enhancing.

•Cranberry taken as a juice or concentrated in tablet form, interferes with bacterial adherence to bladder lining, thus preventing infection.

Important note: this information is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a health care professional.