Viruses and Immune System Part 4: Plant Extracts and Peptides for Optimized Immune Health and Viral Resistance

Viruses and Immune System

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In this article, we discuss plant extracts and peptides that boost the body’s resistance and response to viral infections and increase immune competence.

These are potent substances and their use should be discussed with a qualified functional medicine practitioner.

Studies on Echinacea suggest that it:

  • May reduce severity and duration of common cold symptoms (Zhai, 2007).
  • May reduce the chance of catching a cold by 10 – 20% (Karsch-Völk, 2014).
  • Activates macrophages
  • Enhances the immunoglobulin M response (Zhai, 2007). Immunoglobulin M is an initial activity of the adaptive immune system against pathogens.
  • Increases the numbers of circulating leukocytes, including total cell count and subpopulations (i.e., neutrophil, NK cell, and T lymphocyte) (Zhai, 2007).
    NK (natural killer cells) are crucial for fighting viral infections.

Studies on black elderberry extract suggest that it:

Benefits of stabilized allicin include:

  • Antiviral activity
  • Increased lymphocyte counts
  • Increased Natural Killer cell counts

Studies on Quercetin suggest that it:

  • Blocks virus replication in cells through reduced mRNA transcription (Wu, 2015).
  • Inhibits viral entry into cells (Wu, 2015).
  • Acts as a zinc ionophore, transferring zinc across the cell membrane so it can execute its antiviral properties.

Studies on Shitake/Beta Glucans suggest that they:

Studies on thymosin alpha 1 suggest it can:

  • Enhance T-cell, dendritic cell and antibody responses and modulate cytokines (Li, 2010) (immune system messengers).
  • Increase efficiency of T-cell maturation (Li, 2010).
  • Stimulate natural killer cells, thereby killing virus infected cells (Li, 2010).

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