In recent years, action against antibiotic overuse was implemented to avoid the development of bacterial resistance. Numerous articles regularly appear in both mass media and medical press in the attempt to increase risk awareness in this area — both infection control and prevention are becoming societal issues and challenges.  

At the start of winter, it is important to stimulate the immune system which is often weakened due to its action on all fronts: protection against the cold, constant action against infection, tiredness, sedentariness or overtraining, lack of sleep, stress, vitamin and mineral deficiencies… without forgetting that as we get older, the intestinal flora which supports the immune system tends to decrease and its effectiveness is reduced. 

Plants and herbs able to stimulate the immune system can help to optimise its effectiveness and allow us to defend ourselves against winter aggressions. In taking a preventative approach, they enable us to avoid or limit external infections (viral, bacterial) but also to maintain and reinforce both our physical and psychological strength by boosting our capabilities of self defence. 

These so called ‘adaptogen’ plants enable us to remain in good health and include some of the following: echinacea (shoots or roots depending on variety used), ginseng (roots), eleuthero (roots), rhodolia (roots), African ‘geraniums’ such as the Pelargonium variety (roots), elderberry (flowers, berries) and mushrooms (shiitake, reishi). 

A discontinuous treatment of three weeks to one month or one of eight to ten days a month is recommended and to be repeated several times during the winter season — This method is more effective than continuous use for several months.

A minimum dose is recommended and this can vary from plant to plant.   

In cases such as allergic conditions, auto immune diseases and grafts or transplants, the use of these plants and herbs is not recommended. 

 

References

Dr Kurt Hostettman, Tout savoir sur les plantes anti-âge-santé, longévité, beauté. Edition Fabre (2013)

Dr J.M Morel, Traité pratique de phytothérapie. Edition Grancher (2008)

Le Ginseng : Vertus thérapeutiques d'une plante adaptogène Paul Goetz, Patrick Stoltz, Dominique Delaporte Edition Springer (2009)

Fabienne Millet, Les secrets des plantes qui soignent. Edition Marabout (2015)