The body as we know is a complex living machine that works 24hr a day, 7 days a week, without ever taking a day off. Within this machine that we know as our body, there is a massive and complex structure of process that guards the body from any threats that can possibly harm it. This is called the immune system
What is the immune system?
The immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, organs, and systems that work in harmony to protect the body against invasions or attacks from harmful or foreign organisms. They achieve this by keeping them out of the body, destroying them totally once they are in the body system, and by limiting their damage in the body.
You can read more about it here
Being the body’s protector it is very important that we protect and strengthen the immune system at all times because every day, it is protecting us from falling ill. When the immune system is weak, it leads to poor health because then, every little organism can wreak havoc on your body because its defence is poor. Those that have low immunity such as pregnant women easily fall sick. This happens when such an organism can hardly affect a healthy normal individual.
When things go wrong in the immune system, it stops being able to effectively recognize threats when they appear hence it tends to attack healthy cells in the body by mistake this is when auto-immune diseases such as HIV aids, allergies, etc. develop in the body.
Black seed powder
This is one of my most recommended immune supporting herbs that really help me when I begin to feel any signs of a cold or just a slight change in my health that indicates some kind of a sickness.
Also known as black cumin or Habbatu-sauda in Nigeria, it is known to originate from the middle-east and some parts of Asia. Traces of it were found in the tombs of the egyptian kings and queens. This shows that it an ancient herb and has been used for ages.
Black seed is a very strong and potent spice and remedy that has numerous health benefits that we continue to discover until today. Black seed is used for some other health conditions beyond just improving the immunity such as appetite stimulant, digestive problems, asthma, colds, hemorrhoids etc.
How to use:
- If you have the powder, take a teaspoon once in the morning and another in the evening.
- If it is in a capsule or tablet, use as directed on the product pack.
*Remember not to take this herb on an empty stomach. It is quite powerful and it can harm you. Always take it after meals. Estimate about 30mins after eating meals.
Garlic is an every day spice and food in our kitchen but it is also a very old super healer. It has antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiviral properties that make it very useful when trying to improve your body’s immunity.
How to take it
- Take a piece of fresh raw garlic, not the whole garlic bulb but just one medium-sized piece from the whole bulb.
- Chop it into smaller pieces that make it easier to swallow
- Chew or swallow them with water like capsules or tablets.
*Do not take more than 2pcs of raw garlic in a day. I will recommend that you do not add it to your food because it makes it much less effective than taking it raw as a stand-alone
Caution: Go easy on the garlic if you know that you are taking blood clotting medication because it is also a natural blood thinner. So be careful. feel free to choose other options from the list to be on the safe side.
Vitamin C is one of those must-haves that the doctor always prescribes when we have a cold. This is because it is known to boost the function and strengthen the immune system by helping it fight off diseases and infections.
You can get vitamin C from one of its most known sources citrus fruits i.e oranges, lemon, etc. spinach, moringa leaves, baobab fruit, roselle flowers (Zobo as Nigerians call it) etc. If you prefer tablets, vitamin c supplements are very common and should not be hard to find.
Just beware of the concentration of the tablet you are taking is not more than the 500mg-1000mg(maximum) recommended daily dose. Too much vitamin C at once in the body can cause health issues such as diarrhea or purging as some say in Nigeria.
Vitamin D is also known as the vitamin we get from being in the sun. It is most popularly known for its importance in bone health but there is more to it. It is important in regulating immune responses in the body so that the body does not over-react or under-react to infections and diseases. Its deficiency in the body is linked to autoimmunity and increased infections in the body.
The sun is a free and easy source of vitamin D which is why it is surprising that as much as 1 in 10 people in the world are estimated to have vitamin D deficiency. There are many factors that can affect the absorption of sunlight by the body so that it can produce vitamin D by itself.
This includes, the amount of clothes you wear, sunscreen, time of the day and very importantly for Nigerians the color of your skin. Many black people believe they have all the the vitamin D they need because of their dark skin which is not so.
Nobody black or white is born with an abundance of Vitamin D that they don’t need it from the sun anymore. So, remember that the sun is good for you in moderation and let your body produce the vitamin D you need.
If sitting or staying in the sun is not possible for you, you can try the vitamin D supplements from the pharmacy and other health shops. Best of luck
Iron is one of those supplements that many of us forget but it is very important for body function as all cells in the body need iron and for our immunity. It is needed to transport oxygen to the white blood cells which are one of the pillars of the immune system. Without them, the immunity is weakened and iron also prevents anemia which is also another health condition that weakens the body.
You can get iron from fish, seeds, spinach, moringa leaves, red meat, seafood, etc. You can also get a good iron supplement that can help you while you try to catch up with a proper diet. We cannot take supplements forever.
You can learn more on iron in the body from here
Zinc is needed for the production and development of new immune system cells in the body. It also reduces risk, severity and period of infections. The popular lozanges that we suck on when we have colds contain zinc for a boost in the immunity. Some research shows that zinc deficiency might cause immune dysfunction.
Zinc in our diet lies in sea foods, fish, beans, yoghurt etc. You can decide to take supplements for immediate improvement as the concentration of minerals and vitamins in foods are less than in tablets
Scientific name: ficus carica
English name: Fig
Hausa name: Baure
Plant part used: Bark
Botanical name: terminalia mollis
Hausa name: Baushe
Plant part: Bark
Botanical name: Sorghum bicolor
English name: large-grain guinea corn
Hausa name: Gamji
Plant part used: bark
These plants are very effective immune-boosting herbs commonly used in Nigerian traditional medicine. Of these herbs, gamji is especially effective in improving the body’s immunity. The Hausas use much of these herbs at the beginning of seasons to prepare themselves for the coming changes in their environment and for improving their general health.
You can get them from the local herbal market in Nigeria as they are common herbs. They are also safe drugs that do not cause harm with continuous use.
How to use:
- Get about a forefinger-sized bark of any other herbs from above
- Boil the herb in about half a liter of water or soak it in about half a liter of water for about 3hrs
- Take the remedy after meals. Morning and evening
- Use the herb for about 7 days.
Ginseng is among the most internationally known herbs in the world. It became very expensive and difficult to get once people realized its benefits. It is used for anti-ageing, immunity, energy etc.
Though this herb is not commonly available in Nigeria, there are tonics, sweets, drinks that are made from it that can be employed for the immunity. Caution should be taken though as many ginseng products contain a small percentage of the actual ginseng herb due to its high price. Try and check the percentage of the ginseng herb in the product before buying it.
Apart from remedies and the things we can take orally to help our immune system, there are some very important things in our lifestyle that unless we get them right, no remedy or herb can help you. This is because these matters are very important to the body. These include:
Manage your stress levels as much as you can. Studies have shown that when a person is stressed or under duress, the body’s immunity becomes weaker. If you remember at the beginning of the covid pandemic, there were some doctors advising the public to take it calmly because, during these challenging times, we need to strengthen our immunity not weaken it with stress. We should not make ourselves sick before we get sick.
Quality sleep is a very important factor in being healthy and to some extent, alive. Without good quality sleep, our bodies become too tired to function and when sleep-deprived, may shut down. Try and maintain healthy sleeping patterns to protect yourself from diseases. Studies have shown that our body produces proteins in the body to fight infections as we sleep hence, inadequate sleep can lower our immunity.
Diet and Exercise
Diet and exercise are mentioned very often in areas related to improving and maintaining one’s health. This is because the body is designed to be most healthy when we are active in our life. Being active and exercising well by jogging, walking, biking, swimming, etc. protects our hearts, helps in balancing our hormones, weight, and keep away many other diseases.
Let us not forget that we are what we eat so, if we have a poor diet, our body functions, systems, and overall health will also be poor. Proteins are particularly important and are needed by the immune system to protect itself.
Those with strong immunities are known to maintain a healthy lifestyle of a good diet, life-habits, exercising or having an active life, etc. A combination of these factors helps in protecting them from contracting diseases.
There are some health conditions that contribute to a weak or low immunity which is why it is important to continue to improve your body’s immunity all the time. I hope these recommendations will work for you because these are actually the herbs and supplements that I use when I start feeling a little off.
Many of these are simple herbs and supplements that we use regularly and you can easily get them in most places around the world including Nigeria. Please remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle of exercise, good diet, no smoking, and alcohol, manag /limit stress and worrying, maintaining good personal hygiene to prevent infection from getting into the body, etc.
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Thank you for being here. Until we meet next time.