The human body and its various functions are a pretty amazing thing when you think about it. I have always been in particular awe of the immune system, which is tasked with keeping out harmful invaders that make us sick, destroying damaged cells and promoting healing. While it does a pretty good job on its own without any assistance from us, various assaults, such as poor diet and stress, can compromise its ability, and it would behoove us to take steps known to boost immune function. Here are just a few strategies worth adding to your immune-boosting arsenal.


Lately, it seems like you can't go a day without hearing about how meditation exerted some positive effect on the body. It is pretty amazing how such a simple practice can provide such benefit, but provides benefits it does. Several studies have found meditation seems to benefit the immune system in particular through various means, such as strengthening the actions of certain immune system cells. Its benefits for reducing stress are probably the best known and well-documented, and stress certainly impairs immunity.


In ancient medicine systems, such as those that originated in China, Japan and India, many supplements are highly prized for boosting immune function and fighting off illness. Astragalus, popular in Chinese medicine, is believed to enhance the body's ability to fight off viruses and generally enhance the body' ''life force.'' Various types of mushrooms are known to boost immune function, such as Agaricus blazei murill extract, and are commonly studied for their potential in treating conditions such as cancer. Echinacea, long used by the North American Plains Indians and European healthcare professionals, is believed to boost immune function by strengthening the ability of white blood cells and lymphocytes to fight off harmful invaders. Olive leaf was particularly prized as a topical treatment for wounds and other skin conditions in the Middle East and Mediterranean, but was also used frequently to boost immune function. Sambucus, or elderberry is another herb worth trying to boost immunity-traditionally used to treat colds and flu, it helps the body produce cytokines, which fight immune-suppressing inflammation.

When taking supplements, it is important to remember natural does not always equal safe. Like drugs, using certain herbs or other natural supplements may be inappropriate if you are using certain types of medications or have specific health conditions. Educate yourself on any supplements before taking them.

Get Out and Mingle

While you might think that being around more people makes you more likely to get sick, think again. Feelings of stress and other negative emotions that may result from social isolation trample all over our immune system. One interesting study, which exposed two groups of people to the cold virus up their nose, found people who were more social were less likely to get sick than people who were more of the lone-wolf type. And if they happened to get sick, it was for less time and with fewer symptoms. So, don't discount the importance of a social life and the human connection in contributing to your health.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys blogging about health and wellness; she recommends visiting to learn more about medicinal mushrooms and their health benefits.