On 6th December 2015, there was some disturbing news in the Daily Mail.  The headline ran thus:

“Superbug that beats antibiotics heading our way”

Basically, superbugs have breached the last line of antibiotic defences for the first time.  A drug, Colistin, classed as being critical to human medicine, was ineffective in treating germs that have become resistant to treatment.  The academics involved in identifying the superbugs say it is inevitable that they will spread.

Overuse and improper prescribing of antibiotics has bred bacterial resistance so that antibiotics become ineffective for future treatment.  This is a serious problem!

Growing problems of immunity to antibioticsGiven the rise in antibiotic resistance and the looming crisis this entails, we would all do well to take the responsibility to increase the strength and resilience of our immune systems. It is fortunate for us that Nature provides many herbs that excel at strengthening, revitalising and modifying our immune function.

Thanks to the complex chemical structure of plants, bacteria cannot “figure out” herbs and therefore cannot become resistant to them.  The growing problems with prescribed antibiotics in everyday use are, in part, due to their simple structure.  We can compare modern antibiotics to a jigsaw puzzle that bacteria eventually work out how to solve, rendering them ineffective.

Fortifying our immunity enables the body to mount its own attack against invading bacteria.  Even when taking prescribed antibiotics!

This is a very important point that many people are unaware of:

Regardless of how infectious a disease may be – this includes aggressive diseases such as Ebola (which has been so much in the news recently) some people will remain healthy despite being exposed. Clinical studies have consistently revealed the existence of virulent bacteria in most people’s system.  In spite of this, they remained well.

Numerous studies have proved that the healthier your immune system, the less likely you are to become infected with a disease and the more likely you are if you do get sick, to have a milder episode and recover faster.

Our immune system is our first line of defence.  Its role is to shield us from disease and if disease occurs, to cure it.  Therefore a healthy immune system is a crucial aspect of health and healing.

Basic Elements of the Immune System

You can find more in-depth information and a diagram on the workings of The Immune System here, but this is a basic overview:

Our immune systems are comprised of:

  1. Spleen
  2. Liver
  3. Thymus
  4. Lymphatic system
  5. Lymph nodes
  6. Tonsils
  7. Appendix (an enlarged lymph node)
  8. Bone marrow

The thymus, lymph nodes and bone marrow produce different types of white blood cells that engulf, destroy and clear away dead bacteria and viruses during and after infections.

These various parts of the immune complex can be reinforced and kept healthy.  A strong immune system can prevent infections, or at least cause them to be less frequent and in the event of an infectious episode, healing is much faster.

Herb to strengthen your Immune System

When it comes to boosting your immune system naturally, a number of “anti-biotic herbs” stand out. These herbal anti-biotics can all be used on a long-term basis. Although some are effective against specific diseases, their strength is in boosting various aspects of the immune system, protecting specific organs in the body from toxins or disease.  They have anti-tumour activity or/and tone and restore the body or immune system when there is general debility. Many of these plant medicines are also anti-stressors and adaptogens, i.e. they protect the body from the effects of stress and stimulate the body and the immune system to more effectively deal with difficult and stressful events both internally or externally.

Importantly too, these herbs act as modifiers for the immune system. An over-active immune complex can become over-zealous and attack healthy cells, causing autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, type 1 diabetes and vitiligo.

Eight Herbs to boost your Immune System

Ashwagandha, Eleutherococcus, Astragalus, Poke Root, Boneset, Reishi, Echinacea and Rhodiola

I will go into more detail about these herbs in another blog, together with details of what steps you can take to improve your own immune system.

My name is Patricia Ferguson.  I am a clinical herbalist, providing consultations at my practice in South London.  For further details visit my site at: www.greenleavesherbalhealth.co.uk



Inspired by a life-long interest in health, I worked as an NHS medical secretary for 20 years. After experiencing the power of herbal remedies for myself, I trained as a medical herbalist, graduating from Westminster University in 2004. I’m a member of the College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy (CPP); a governing body for qualified medical herbalists. I’m a firm believer that you have the power to make profound changes, and I aim to support you on your journey - and help you resolve on-going health problems. I have published several articles and have served as health expert for Holland & Barrett's Healthy magazine. At a local level, I regularly dispense health advice in a health food shop. I have recently developed my own range of natural skincare products, Clay & Herbs. You can also find a wealth of information on medicinal herbs and a variety of health topics on my website: www.greenleavesherbalhealth.co.uk.