- Question from Eva: What are the best herbs and vitamins to boost the immune system?
- Answers - Gary Deng First of all, boosting the immune system may not always be a good thing, for example, in people with autoimmune diseases or diseases with an autoimmune component such as rheumatoid arthritis, hyperthyroidism, and several other diseases. In those people, an overactive immune system may make the disease worse. Secondly, most of the herbs or supplements that have shown to "boost the immune system" have been studied mainly in laboratory studies or animal studies. Whether they do the same thing in humans is still being investigated. So at this point, we cannot really say there is a best herb or supplement that boosts the immune system. However, there are other things that people can do to foster a healthy and strong immune system, such as make sure they are not malnourished. For people who are protein-deficient, their immune systems are severely weakened. They should also make sure they reduce the stressors in their lives, as stress raises the level of stress hormones, which are immunosuppressants. So unfortunately I cannot say there is one best herb that will boost the immune system, but there are many herbal supplements that have this potential. Many research groups are studying them to see how we can use them in the most appropriate way to benefit patients.
On Wednesday, July 18, 2007, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Vitamins and Herbal Supplements. Gary Deng, M.D., Ph.D. and moderator Beth Baughman DuPree, M.D., F.A.C.S. answered your questions about how to safely and sensibly incorporate vitamins and supplements into your diet.
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