Natural immune-boosting herbs help to maintain a strong immune system, with the goal of avoiding sickness or expediting recovery in the worst case scenario. Staying healthy begins far before flu season, and all of the herbs for the immune system listed below may be beneficial in this regard.

In my family’s health regimen, immune-boosting herbs play an important role. With a doorknob-licking toddler and an extremely affectionate preschooler in the home, we need all the support we can get!


Naturally occurring immune boosters were already a frequent part of our life before we had children. My job was at a hospital, and my husband’s job required him to travel across the country on a regular basis. While handwashing and other preventive measures are definitely the first step, when you’re constantly surrounded by ill individuals on a daily basis, you may want a little additional assistance.


I found myself in the midst of creating a batch of elderberry syrup, which is one of our favorite natural immune boosters. My husband and I had just collected fresh elderberries from our garden, which we’d grown from cuttings, and I began searching for additional herbs that might benefit the immune system to include in the mix. My immune system had been boosted by more than 20 different immune-boosting herbs, flowers, roots, mushrooms, and lichen after a short stroll around the garden and neighboring forests.


With a trip to the spice cupboard for immune-boosting spices like ginger, black pepper, and garlic, I had a plethora of options on hand…


Herbs that bolster the immune system

NOTE: I am not a clinical herbalist or healthcare provider; this information is based on my own personal experience and research; however, I strongly encourage you to confirm it with other sources. Before beginning any health regimen, whether herbal or otherwise, please consult your healthcare provider.



There are three types of herbs for the immune system that are often used:

Insulin-like immunostimulants 

are best utilized for a short amount of time and are most effective when taken in conjunction with other medications. The optimum time to be tested is when you are first showing signs of disease, or if you have been exposed to an infection. When someone coughs directly in your face, or when you’re about to board a long flight where there may be additional pathogens in the recirculated air, it’s important to be prepared. Echinacea and usnea lichen are examples of such plants.


Herbal Immunomodulators (also known as Immune Tonics) 

Immunomodulators, also known as immune tonics, are tonics for the immune system that are frequently used over a long period of time. In the case of acute sickness, they are not intended to be outwardly restorative, but rather to assist restore balance to your system and foster a healthy immune response. Tulsi (holy basil) and reishi mushrooms are examples of such plants.


Anti-Microbial Herbs

 Despite the fact that they do not directly affect the immune system, they are beneficial in the treatment of sickness and the maintenance of good health. While pharmaceutical antibiotics have their place, anti-microbial herbs may be used to treat mild diseases (or injuries) in lieu of prescription antibiotics. Some are antifungal in nature (for topical disorders), while others are antibacterial in nature (for more general issues). These are worthy of a separate article in their own right, and I’ll touch on them briefly at the conclusion.


Despite the fact that these three kinds of herbs are distinct from one another, the nomenclature is often used interchangeably, even in peer-reviewed scientific publications. Some of them, in fact, fit into more than one category. Important to remember is that not all herbs are meant to be used over an extended period of time, and that not all herbs for the immune system will have an immediate effect if you are already unwell.


There are several aspects in our everyday lives that have an impact on our immune systems. Stress, worry, and even feelings of social isolation, as well as exposure to chemicals and a wide range of other environmental variables, may all have a bad influence on your immune system and your overall health. Due to the sheer volume of information, we will presume that, all other things being equal, you are making every effort to live a stress-free life and are otherwise taking care of yourself and your family.


Exercising, eating well, going outdoors, and spending time in nature on a regular basis are all recommended. Everything that is excellent.

Once you’ve covered the fundamentals, here are a few immune-boosting herbs that have been proved to assist maintain a healthy immune system. To round out the mix, I’ve included a few spices, roots, lichen, and mushrooms for more flavor and texture.


ASHWAGANDHA is the name of a fictional character created by the Hindu god Vishnu (IMMUNE TONIC)


is an ancient ayurvedic plant that has been used medicinally for thousands of years. It is an adaptogen, which means that it assists your body in coping with the stresses of everyday life.

The herb Ashwagandha, according to research, “improves the body’s protection against illness through increasing cell-mediated immunity.” It also possesses powerful antioxidant properties that aid in the prevention of cellular damage caused by free radicals.” It also “acts as an immunomodulator and, as a result, can increase the life span of cancer patients, particularly in cases where the patient’s immune system has been compromised.”


It is known as Indian ginseng, and it has been shown to promote stamina, improve memory, and have anti-tumor properties.

In our Vermont garden, we grow ashwagandha as an annual, and it’s not difficult to pick your own, even in the coldest climes.





Known for its immune-stimulating qualities in both eastern and western herbalism, astragalus is another adaptogen with a long history.

Astralagus was shown to be beneficial in “priming for a possible immunological response as well as its influence on blood flow and wound healing,” according to a research conducted on people.

Its immune-modulating properties have been confirmed in two separate investigations in mice and rats. The immune systems of both healthy and immuno-compromised mice were strengthened in one research, while a study on cancer rats discovered that “polysaccharides of Astragalus exhibit strong immune-modulating action, thereby validating the common usage of Astragalus…”



It is both a medicinal herb and a food since it is a member of the bean family. Astragalus roots, which may be collected fresh or bought dried, can be used to prepare soups or to season a variety of recipes, making it simple to integrate astragalus into your diet. (It is also often used as a dietary supplement.)



Astragalus is an annual in our garden, and although I had meant to cultivate it as an annual, it has returned year after year from little portions of roots left in the soil after harvesting. Even though I’d been warned it would grow only minimally hardy in our climate, it’s done fantastically well in our zone 4 winters.

The picture above shows my daughter with an Astragalus seedling that we planted in our garden a few years ago. Astralagus seedling in its first year
The picture above shows my daughter with an Astragalus seedling that we planted in our garden a few years ago.







CALENDULA is a flower that grows in the springtime (IMMUNE TONIC)

Calendula’s stunning blazing yellow/orange blooms light up any garden, and they’re both edible and medicinal in nature, making them a wonderful addition to any garden.


Traditionally, calendula is used externally to the skin in the form of lotions and oils because of its anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory effects. You’ll find it used in a variety of products, including lotions, creams, and therapeutic salves.

Aside from its anti-microbial properties on the skin, dried entire flower heads have been utilized as an immune tonic for hundreds of years. According to the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, the following is true:




“The full blossoms may also be dried and used as an immune tonic in soups and stews throughout the winter months.” This traditional folk uses hails from medieval Europe, when the flowers were also used to flavor bread, syrups, and preserves, as well as other baked goods. Nicholas Culpepper wrote the following in his famous 1863 publication The Complete Herbal:

As a comforter of the heart and spirits, as well as an expulsion of any malignant or pestilential character that may disturb them, the blooms are often employed in possets, broths, and drinks, whether green or dried.




Modern herbalists often use calendula in nutritious winter broths, and they may also include other savory immune-stimulating mushrooms such as turkey tail or reishi to enhance the impact. This herbal healing mushroom soup or this immune-modulating mushroom broth both include calendula as well as an assortment of other immune-boosting herbs and mushrooms, making them excellent options for anyone suffering from illness or injury.


Chaga mushrooms, which grow on birch trees and are perhaps the most well-known of the numerous therapeutic fungi that can be found there, are being researched for a variety of possible health advantages.


WebMD describes chaga as having antioxidant characteristics and the ability to activate the immune system while also helping to decrease blood sugar and cholesterol levels in certain people. It is also being investigated for its potential as an anti-cancer therapeutic.

The immune function of immunosuppressed rats was improved by drinking a tea derived from Chaga, according to one study. The researchers concluded that “these findings clearly imply the considerable potential of the aqueous extract from Inonotus obliquus as an immunological enhancer during chemotherapy.”



In accordance with other medicinal mushrooms, the most usual method of administration is by a double extraction tincture, due to the fact that some of the chemicals are alcohol soluble while others are water soluble.



The mushroom components are first extracted in alcohol, and then they are extracted by boiling for an extended period of time. The cooled alcohol extract is then mixed with the cooled water extract in a proportion that maintains both of their constituents.

The resulting product is marketed under the names Chaga tincture and Chaga extract, respectively.

Chaga Tincture is a herbal remedy that has been used for centuries.
We prepared a tincture from our own wild-harvested Chaga mushrooms using traditional methods (alcohol extract)




In the unlikely event that you haven’t been living under a rock for the last decade, you’ve probably already heard about the immune-boosting qualities of echinacea. It’s by far the most well-known herbal immune stimulant, and it’s generally recognized as a potent herbal weapon, even by members of the medical profession.



According to the findings of a research looking into the medical effects of echinacea,

“According to the findings of the research presented in this article, echinacea is beneficial in shortening the duration and intensity of symptoms…”

However, the researchers pointed out that there is considerable disagreement as to which preparations (tincture, tea, etc.) and which parts of the plant (flowers, roots, leaves, etc.) are the most efficient and which portions of the plant are the least effective.

Using flowers and leaves that I gather from our own plants, I brew our own echinacea tincture, and then I supplement it with a little amount of dried echinacea root that I bought to be on the safe side.

A cup of pure echinacea tea might be harsh, but if you add a little lemongrass to it, it becomes a delightful beverage. The use of elderberry and rose hips, as in this recipe for winter immune support tea, is also effective.







While echinacea is a powerful immune stimulant that is best used during sickness, elderberries are a year-round immune tonic that may be taken at any time of year. While echinacea tastes like medication (which means it’s unpleasant), elderberries are a delicious and versatile fruit with a beautiful flavor, making it handy.



Elderberries, like many other berries, have been proved to be antioxidants, but they have also been demonstrated to improve immunological function. Elderberry syrup has been shown to have near-miraculous health effects in several investigations.

“Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and the use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared to those receiving placebo,” according to a placebo-controlled study on flu patients who took a tablespoon (15 mL) of elderberry syrup four times per day. “Elderberry extract seems to be an effective, safe, and cost-effective therapy for influenza,” according to the researchers.



Even while elderberry syrup is one of the most well-known preparations, there are literally hundreds of alternative methods to consume the berry.

Make an elderberry pie from scratch, using either fresh or dried elderberries that have been rehydrated.


Make an old-fashioned elderberry oxymel with raw cider vinegar and honey to serve as a refreshing summer drink.
Elderberry gummy bears are really simple to make at home, and they only take around 20 minutes to complete. In addition, they’re accessible commercially, where they’re combined with other immune-boosting herbs.
Preparing an elderberry jelly allows you to take your prescription with your morning toast without having to go to the pharmacy.


Although we don’t drink our herbs very frequently these days, traditionally herbal ales and meads (honey wines), such as this elderberry mead, were the favoured ways of consumption.
Elderberry-based home treatments are becoming more popular.
Elderberries are used in the preparation of home medicines. Elderberry syrup, gummy bears, pie, and oxymel are seen clockwise from the top left.




Allow your food to serve as medicine, and garlic is a delicious approach to accomplish this goal.

Despite the fact that garlic has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years, scientific research is just now starting to establish its medical effects. Do you still not believe it? Take a look at what the scientists have to say…

“Garlic (Allium sativum) has been utilized as a medicinal agent for millennia, both as a preventative and curative agent. Furthermore, garlic has been shown to have both cancer-preventive and immune-system boosting properties, which is quite important…. Both in vitro and in vivo experiments have been performed to support these results…



A little amount of garlic added to meals is delicious, but for therapeutic benefits, you’ll probably need a much higher concentration of the herb. Making your own fire cider and fermenting your own honey garlic are two of the most popular methods to get your daily dosage of garlic.

In our area, fresh organic garlic is generally about $18 per pound, but we plant garlic every autumn since it’s a really simple crop to raise. Almost every few years, we experiment with a different garlic variety, and it’s astonishing how different the tastes (and colors) may be from one another.


GINSENG is a herb that is used to treat a variety of ailments (IMMUNE TONIC)

Ginseng is one of the few immune-stimulating plants that we do not cultivate on our woods homestead, despite the fact that we have the potential to do so. Farming the Woods, one of my favorite permaculture books, has thorough directions for planting ginseng, which I recommend reading as well.

It takes years for it to reach maturity, and it has been overharvested to the point that it is almost extinct in the wild. Federal regulations are stringent, which means that unless you have a gold bar stashed away in the back of your closet, it might be difficult to get gold coins.

In light of the abundance of alternative immune-boosting herbs accessible, I honestly don’t see any compelling reason to choose this species, which is both endangered and prohibitively pricey.

In spite of this, ginseng has been used for millennia and is included on no list of immune-supportive herbs that is comprehensive.

Ginseng .



Japanese honeysuckle, on the other hand, is an invasive plant that has spread over the globe in the opposite direction as ginseng. Having definitely identified the plant, feel free to collect as much as you need without fear of seriously hurting this wonderfully prolific bloom.

Keep in mind that, as with other medicinal invasive species (such as Japanese Knotweed), it is critical to ensure that the plant has not been sprayed with herbicides before using it.

Japanese honeysuckle is one of the few plants that may stimulate the immune system while simultaneously acting as an antibacterial. The majority of the research on its usefulness has been conducted on livestock or food animals, as organic farmers seek more natural methods to keep their animals healthy and productive.



Numerous experiments with egg-laying hens and aquaculture projects with fish and shrimp have all determined that Japanese honeysuckle is a natural immune stimulant and/or antioxidant agent, according to the findings.

Honeysuckle is a favorite of bees and other pollinators, in part because of its sweet and aromatic fragrance. Because of this, it is a delectable medication that can be cooked in a variety of ways. Infusions or extracts, such as honeysuckle glycerite or honeysuckle vodka, are the most often seen forms.


There has been a great deal of promising study into the medical use of lion’s mane mushrooms recently. Researchers are particularly interested by their capacity to restore cognitive performance in Alzheimer’s patients, as well as their ability to manage blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.

Furthermore, studies have shown that they are also an immunological tonic, providing another another incentive to seek out this incredible fungus.

Despite the fact that they are supposed to be scarce in the wild, we have a large number of them on our 30 acres. It is simple to recognize lion’s mane mushrooms, and the dazzling white shaggy fungus is difficult to overlook.



If you can’t get mushrooms in the wild, there are mushroom supplements available. Among the products available from Host Defense are a lion’s mane mushroom capsule as well as a complete immune support capsule that contains a variety of immune-supporting mushrooms.

Lion’s mane mushrooms are a kind of fungus.
In our woods, there’s a lion’s mane mushroom growing on the trunk of a dying beech tree.

MYRRH is an acronym that stands for Myrrh and Rhinoceros (IMMUNE STIMULANT AND ANTIMICROBIAL)



While there are several natural immunity tonics available, there are just a few natural immune stimulants available. That is one of the reasons why people have regarded myrrh as valuable for millennia.

The substance has antibacterial properties on the surface, but it is also utilized inside for a number of ailments. According to research, “myrrh has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as being a circulatory and immune system stimulant.”

Studies, on the other hand, are conflicting, and utilizing myrrh over an extended length of time may potentially be harmful rather than beneficial. When you include in a few possible side effects as well as undesirable medicine combinations, it’s not something I’d recommend for use at home.

The herbal immune boosters that I can produce and harvest in my own backyard are my first choice, but I know plenty of others who sing the praises of myrhh and include it into their home herbal practice. To each his or her own, and before attempting any herbal therapy, do your study.



Reishi mushrooms are abundant on our property, and they seem to emerge out of just about every hemlock stump at the same time in the early summer months. Thousands of pounds are collected each year, with some being dried in slices for winter immune-boosting teas and other being diced fresh for our double extraction reishi tincture.



While many medicinal components are only soluble in alcohol, reishi’s immune-boosting qualities are water-soluble, which makes it a unique therapeutic ingredient. A simple tea made from reishi, such as this one from traditional medicinals, is an efficient method to absorb the mushroom.

The water-soluble polysaccharides found in Reishi have been demonstrated to stimulate the immune response, particularly in the context of cancer cells. In accordance with research findings, “the polysaccharides from G. lucidum are considered to induce an indirect anticancer process in which the host immune system is changed to target the tumor cells.”



In particular, beta-glucans, a type of polysaccharide found in reishi mushrooms that “has the ability to induce both innate and adaptive immune responses…triggering a series of molecular pathways…which in turn, activate the host immune response for immune cell proliferation,” according to the study.



Schisandra berries, often known as five flavor berries, are berries that have all five tastes (sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami). They are a traditional Chinese medicinal fruit that is used either fresh or dried for therapeutic purposes in the country. These plants can withstand temperatures as low as zone 4, and we’ll be planting some this spring from Fedco seeds.



 They may be found in the bulk department of our local coop, not far from dried elderberries and echinacea, among other things.

According to the findings of a research conducted on Leukemia patients with compromised immune systems, “S. chinensis may be therapeutically useful by increasing humoral and cell-mediated immune responses.”



Known as an adaptogen, it is also historically used to improve lifespan, control blood sugar levels, and expedite the recovery from surgery and other medical procedures (source).

Because Schisandra is an immune-stimulating fruit, it is typically used just as a food source. However, like elderberries, it may be difficult to come by in fresh form, thus it is normally acquired in dried form.



Then it may be used in recipes such as the ones listed below:

Immune Boosting Supplements Schisandra Syrup is a natural herb that has been used to treat a variety of ailments.
Pastilles de Schisandra (Schisandra Pastilles) (Honey Tabs)
Korean Schisandra Tea (Korean Schisandra Tea) (Omija tea)


Shiitake mushrooms are perhaps the most widely accessible immune-boosting fungus, with shiitake mushrooms being found in almost every grocery shop. Fresh, they can be kept for many weeks, and dried, they may be kept for much longer.

My family and I cultivate shiitake mushrooms on maple logs in our woods, and my daughter enjoys looking for mushroom flushes on a regular basis. She’ll fetch her basket out of the closet and fill it before doing a joyous mushroom dance for everyone. While I’ll confess that my wife isn’t a fan of mushrooms in general, there’s something wonderful about witnessing edible (and medicinal) plants sprout out out of the side of a fallen log.



Participants in one trial consumed shiitake mushrooms for a period of four weeks. The researchers came to the conclusion that frequent intake of shiitake mushrooms “resulted in better immunity, as seen by improved cell proliferation and activation, as well as higher sIgA production.” It is possible that these benefits occurred under less inflammatory settings than existed before to ingestion, based on the alterations found in cytokine and serum CRP levels.”


SPILANTHES are a kind of plant that grows on the ground (IMMUNE STIMULANT AND ANTIMICROBIAL)

Spilanthes seedlings have been available for purchase at local plant sales for the last several years, along with a variety of other therapeutic herbs. It’s typically referred to as the “toothache plant” since it’s historically been used to relieve tooth pain, but it also has another therapeutic effect that might be much more significant.



Spilanthes is one of the few plants known to actively stimulate the immune system, rather than just working as a tonic. It is one of the few plants known to truly urge the immune system into action rather than simply acting as a tonic.

Splanthes “substantially stimulated macrophages and increased their activity compared to control,” according to the findings of a mouse study. “This herb may be a viable natural medication for immunostimulant impact,” the researchers concluded.

Urban Moonshine manufactures a spilanthes throat spray that combines the herb with sage (which has antibacterial properties) and usnea (Immune boosting & respiratory support). I’ve begun taking it whenever I’m feeling a little under the weather, simply to give myself a little additional energy throughout cold and flu season.





Tulsi, a well-known adaptogen, aids the body’s ability to adapt to a wide range of stimuli. During my pregnancies, I utilized it on a regular basis to assist relieve stress and keep my blood pressure in check. It has a very relaxing impact on me, at least personally.

Because stress and worry may really impair the immune system, tulsi is a remedy that should be considered only from that standpoint. However, it has more to offer… Tulsi is also a powerful immune-boosting plant!



According to the findings of a research conducted on healthy volunteers, tulsi extract is an immunological tonic. “These data convincingly establish the immunomodulatory impact of Tulsi leaves extract on healthy volunteers,” the researchers said in their conclusion. “

Despite the fact that we have tulsi growing in our garden and adjoining greenhouse, I never manage to plant enough of them. When we run out of tea, I supplement with Organic India Tulsi Sweet Rose tea, which is especially delicious after a hard day at the office.



This mushroom, so named because of its ruffled edge, has the appearance of a real turkey tail. Despite the fact that turkey tail mushrooms are so abundant around the globe, distinguishing them from other mushrooms may be difficult due to the large number of look-alikes.

In a research detailing the therapeutic qualities of turkey tail mushrooms, it is said that “Numerous in vitro and in vivo studies reveal augmentation of immunological functions, antiviral effects, cholesterol-regulating effects, and other beneficial effects, among other things.”



Turkey tail mushroom pills for immune support are available from Host Defense in a handy capsule form. Making your own turkey tail tincture is another option if you learn to definitely identify this wild fungus (be cautious, and as with any wild mushroom, make sure you are 100 percent certain in your identification).



Usnea is a medicinal lichen that has been shown to be both immuno stimulant and anti-microbial in nature.

Usnea has traditionally been used as a wound dressing in the field, and contemporary research has shown that it has anti-microbial qualities.

Immune-stimulant activities are shown by usnea extracts when taken internally. Also considered an anti-inflammatory, it has long been utilized in herbal cough treatments to help with respiratory support and bronchitis.

Usnea is used in a variety of herbal throat sprays, including this one from Urban Moonshine and another from Honey Gardens Apiaries, both of which are available online (both local Vermont companies).



Usnea may be found in abundance in our forests, however it is often found high in the canopy. After wind storms, I’ll frequently discover it hanging to broken branches, and I’ll carefully inspect the tops of the trees we chop for firewood to see whether it’s there. I’m able to use this information to manufacture our own handmade usnea tincture.

Please note that there are many different varieties of lichen, so be careful to definitely identify usnea before using.) (An article on the subject will be published shortly.)


Our own usnea tincture, made from lichen found near our house.
Making usnea tincture using lichen that has been gathered around our property.


Anti-microbial herbs, which are distinct from anti-bacterial herbs, may play an essential role in assisting the immune system in fighting sickness. Herbal antimicrobials may also play a significant role in the prevention of sickness.

Example: Thymol, or more specifically, the essential oil of thyme, serves as the active element in Seventh generation Anti-Microbial surface wipes. They assert that these wipes are lethal.


Although it is quite costly to purchase, goldenseal is widely used in tinctures in conjunction with echinacea.


is a plant that we keep in our yard primarily for the gorgeous blossoms; the anti-microbial properties are an added benefit.

In addition to being historically used to create brewing containers for handmade mead (honey wine) and other nordic drinks, juniper was also traditionally used for cleaning (with contemporary science supporting its anti-microbial characteristics).



is used for a variety of purposes other than incense and perfume…

With lemon balm being such a prolific summer herb, it might be difficult to come up with enough ways to use it into your cooking. Anti-microbials manufactured at home are an excellent answer.



 Herbal tea prepared at home Vicks vapor rub type decongestants use rosemary in addition to eucalyptus, and rosemary is also used as a topical cleaner in certain products.

Aside from being an anti-microbial kitchen herb, thyme is also the finest decongestant I’ve ever come across!

In addition to being utilized as an immune-stimulant, Usnea is also used as an anti-microbial herb, as previously mentioned.


Yarrow has been used to stop bleeding since ancient times, and it also has the added benefit of disinfecting wounds.


The majority of these anti-microbial herbs would make excellent additions to homemade hand sanitizers as well as homemade herbal hand soaps, among other things.


Are you looking for more information about herbal immune support?

Identifying, preparing, and utilizing therapeutic plants are all covered in detail in the Herbal Academy’s Introductory Herbalism Course. This is an excellent place to begin your herbal education. They also provide intermediate and advanced courses, all of which are available online.
Herbal Academy Mushrooms Course This course, which was just created, teaches students how to identify and utilize medicinal mushrooms in their daily lives. I was given an early copy of the lesson on mushrooms for immune support, and it is really in-depth and well-organized.


The book Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emergent and Resistant Viral Illnesses explains how to produce and utilize herbal formulations to prevent and cure viral infections such as SARS, influenza, and encephalitis in great detail. This collection of natural treatments can help you fight sickness and boost your immune system, ensuring that your family remains healthy and happy.”
“Explains the foundations of antibiotic resistance, investigates the efficacy of herbal remedies, and presents in-depth profiles of 30 beneficial plants, noting the right doses, probable side effects, and contraindications of each.”

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