Health & Beauty

5 herbal heroes to support immunity

Keeping our immune system fighting fit has never been more important. Aside from eating nutritious food, getting enough sleep and exercising, you can also look into natural ways of keeping your immune system healthy.

Euan MacLennan is the herbal director at Pukka Herbs and also a medical herbalist at an NHS practice. He gives us five of his favourite natural remedies for those wanting to seek out herbal and plant-based support for their immune system.

Echinacea: A renowned immune tonic with some very interesting research, 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 recovery.

Elderberries: Bursting with brightly coloured pigments that act as natural antioxidants, elderberries are a natural source of vitamin C. It may also help the immune system in a similar way to echinacea.

Sipping on herbal tea is a fantastic way of incorporating these two ingredients into your day-to-day lives. My favourite is Pukka Herbs Organic Elderberry and Echinacea, packed with antioxidants to reduce stress and fight infections.

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Vitamin C: Well-known for supporting our immune function, vitamin C plays an important role by improving the activity of some white blood cells such as ‘natural killer cells’, allowing our immune system to communicate and co-ordinate its attack against viruses.

Andrographis: Traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to promote the production of antibodies and reduce the severity of infection, andrographis contains compounds that rally the immune systeandrographism to fight effectively against invaders such as viruses. Pukka Herbs has worked with  the University of Southampton on a clinical trial to prescribe andrographis to NHS patients in 20 GP surgeries across the UK to soothe symptoms of respiratory tract infections.

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Mushrooms: There are approximately 400 species of fungi that have been identified with medicinal properties, and many have antiviral, antimicrobial or anti-inflammatory qualities. Mushrooms are high in beta-glucans – natural substances found to help ‘prime’ our immune system, making sure it’s ready for action to fight off infection. They can be easily added into your diet through daily doses of supplements.

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For NHS guidance on herbal medicines, go to