During Autumn and Winter, our bodies can be increasingly challenged by viruses and bacteria, both of which cause infections. Fortunately, we have an inbuilt natural defence mechanism – our immune system.
How sleep can support your immune system
A good night's sleep is the difference between a good day and a bad day for most of us. As Euan MacLennan, Herbal Director at Pukka Herbs says, when we don't get enough sleep, we can be groggy, irritable, prone to headaches and find it hard to focys. So, it's no wonder that sleep can impact our bodies ability to stay healthy and fight off illness. Indeed poor quality sleep can lead to a wide variety of health issues. During the winter season, when we are more prone to coughs, colds and flu, it is more important than eveer to get a good seven to eight hours rest per night. Clinical research shows that those with less than seven hours sleep per night are up to three times more likely to develop the common cold than those with or more hours sleep [i]. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.
Sleep also helps to reduce stress, support mental wellbeing and heart health.
Easy lifestyle habits to improve immunity
It’s no surprise that simple lifestyle habits such as getting a good night’s sleep, eating a balanced diet full of fruit and vegetables and washing your hands regularly can help support your body’s ability to fight off infections, but did you know that several plants have specific and powerful properties that can help support your body’s natural defences.
Here are our favourite natural remedies to help support your immune system.
Support your immune system naturally with these plants
A renowned immune tonic, echinacea can be particularly helpful for fighting infections of the respiratory tract. It may have a preventative action but also help relieve symptoms and speed up recovery.
Bursting with brightly coloured pigments that are high in natural antioxidants, elderberries are a rich natural source of vitamin C.
Well-known for supporting our immune function, vitamin C plays an important role in enabling our immune system to communicate and co-ordinate a response.
Andrographis is traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to promote the production of antibodies and reduce the severity of infection.
Pukka Herbs recently worked with the University of Southampton where Andrographis was prescribed to NHS patients in 20 GP surgeries across the UK as a remedy for upper respiratory tract infections.
There are approximately 400 species of fungi that have been confirmed to have medicinal properties, and many have antiviral, antimicrobial or anti-inflammatory qualities. Mushrooms can be easily added into your diet by taking a supplement such as Pukka's Mushroom Gold capsules.
Wonderful and warming, ginger contains high levels of spicy essential oils that stimulate the circulation and provide natural antibacterial protection.
Lemon has long been used in both Western and Eastern traditional medicine as a digestive aid due to its aromatic and bitter properties. Whole lemon is packed with natural vitamin C and bioflavonoids which increase cellular protection.
Sweet, soothing and nourishing, manuka honey combines the therapeutic benefits of honey with the antimicrobial qualities of the manuka tree from which the bees collect the nectar.
Lemon, ginger and honey is a great combination that many people will be used to reaching for when symptoms strike. Our Lemon, Ginger and Manuka Honey tea is packed with antioxidants to reduce the effects of stress and fight infections. Spicy and sweet, this perfect winter warmer combines natural antibacterial and antiviral herbs that will protect the body from infection and soothe an irritated throat and dry cough.
[i] Cohen S et al. Sleep habits and susceptibility to the common cold. Arch Intern Med. 2009; 169 (1): 62-7