General Question

jabag11's avatar

What's an all natural product that keeps immune system strong?

Asked by jabag11 (673points) January 31st, 2011

I’m looking for something not unhealthy at all, so you know, I’m looking for something natural that I can take for life I guess periodically, once a day maybe, or twice a week would be better lol.

Because I have been taking 2,000mg of Vitamin C for months now to stop myself from getting sick and yet I got sick 5 days ago with a cold!! For example I heard people who take “Elderberry” never get sick, that it really helps them? Maybe I should get that?

I am 19 and male thank you!

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55 Answers

jabag11's avatar

by the way I know nothing is for sure, and nothing will stop me from ever getting sick but what I mean is, there are better natural things out there than others, I’m just hoping some of you may know the best ones or really good ones?

nikipedia's avatar


tedd's avatar

Vitamins, exercise to some extent, eating healthy…. Just regular taking care of yourself stuff.

But like you said, there is NOTHING that will keep you from ever getting sick. No matter how good your immune system is, you can still catch the flu, or a cold, or anything.

Side note, 2000mg of Vitamin C, in one sitting… you will be pissing the large majority of that out, doing you no good.

cazzie's avatar

Good food and Sleep. No alcohol. Regular exercise.

JLeslie's avatar

The Vitamin C thing is a myth. Science has never been able to repeat the results of the initial study that supposedly proved it helps colds. It is basically an old wives tale. Although, C is an important nutrient in general.

The best thing is to eat plenty of veggies and fruits in all the varying colors, and get blood tests to see what you might be dificient in. If you are a woman Iron dificiency is very common, and can leave you tired and easily susceptible to getting sick. Vitamin D and B12 are vitamins people are being found to be dificient in large numbers.

Take a one a day plus iron if you are a woman, or one a day no iron if you are a man, and get checked at your yearly checkup for the nutrients I suggested, and whatever others your doctor might be concerned about.

The usual recommendation of iron for a woman is 18mg a day. I take over 100 a day to stay in normal range. I also have to take prescription mega doses of Vitamin D to stay in normal ranges. There is no way I would have known this without the blood tests. Don’t mega dose unless you know for sure you are dificient. For instance high doses of D can cause your blood calcium to go up which is very dangerous. i have to have my calcium checked every three month to monitor it.

cazzie's avatar

Yes, large dosing of Vit C.. you should be careful. If you get diarrhoea from the taking that large a dose in one go, you’re actually damaging your kidneys. Don’t ever take so much Vit C that you get the *hits.

Nullo's avatar

Balanced diet and exercise. It’s pretty cool how we’re so easy to maintain.

Fyrius's avatar

Vitamin C isn’t unnatural. Vitamin C is basically just an orange, but without all the parts you don’t need.

You could also just eat a heckload of oranges every day, but if you can get the same stuff from one little pill it sounds like terrible a waste of time, money and appetite.

marinelife's avatar

Natural substances that boost the immune system are not to be taken on an everyday basis.

You should only take them, like elderberry, when you are sick or when you are exposed to a lot of germs such as when you fly.

It is more important to avoid people who are coughing or sneezing, to wash your hands after touching public doors, or sanitize your hands after touching grocery carts.

JLeslie's avatar

Listen to @marinelife. The biggy is don’t touch your face. Germs get into your body by getting on your hands and then entering when you rub your eyes, or touch your nose. Once you get a cold, it typically is going to last a week whether you try to do something special for it or not. Avoiding the cold is the best. And, getting plenty of rest.

Fyrius's avatar

Tell that to diabetic people.
For that matter, tell that to people who age. It’s pretty horrible how unattainable it is to keep your body from deteriorating to death.

JLeslie's avatar

@Nullo I think a healthy diet is really important, but I could never get enough iron, B12, or D through diet it seems.

auntydeb's avatar

Just misread @JLeslie‘s response above as ‘I think a healthy death is important’! Then found myself agreeing. So, all of the above @jabag11. At 19, your body is just about finished growing, your brain is still sorting itself out. Eat oily fish, whole grains, organic/free-range eggs. You need ‘eicosanoids’ – go look it up, great word.

You need a mixture of all kinds of fats, foods and plenty of fluids – not sugary nor fizzy, by the way. But maybe, what you need, is to stop worrying about getting a cold. In fact, catching lots of minor infections, whilst keeping very fit and generally healthy could be regarded as good for you. It builds immunity.

The longest-lived people on the planet have been shown to eat a great variety of foods in any given week. Count your foods in a day (include condiments, snacks and drinks), how many different foods do you really eat? Having the same sort of anything daily is not really natural. Break a routine once in a while, try new things, eat as wide a dietary range as possible – fresh, unprocessed, locally produced foods. Steer clear of burgers, fatty treats or sweets on a daily basis, once a week is ok.

By ‘different’ I don’t mean different brands, by the way, but different actual food stuffs. E.g. say, broccoli, spring greens, pak choi or white onions, garlic, red onions. Etc.

Enjoy growing to maturity, enjoy your life, enjoy the odd infection, work towards a healthy death!

Fyrius's avatar

A healthy death?
Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?

gorillapaws's avatar

Immune systems don’t need “boosting.” An overactive immune system is what causes autoimmune diseases. The term is basically a marketing gimmick that exploits a regulatory loophole. In the USA, if a product claims that it actually treats or prevents a disease then it needs to prove the medical claim to the FDA with studies proving it’s safe and effective (this is true of any “all-natural” products as well). General and vague phrases are impossible to enforce, so any product can make this claim without proof. I could literally sell you a bottle of tap water, call it “GorillaPaws Miracle Liquid” and market it as “supporting a healthy immune system” and there’s nothing regulators can do to prevent it.

This is just one of many articles discussing it.

auntydeb's avatar

@Fyrius – maybe… But since we all must die, better to go having remained as well as possible until the end! I think a ‘healthy’ death is one where life has been long, well lived and the end is dignified and comfortable. The World Health Organisation’s definition of health is here, I think death itself is a natural and healthy part of life.

Fyrius's avatar

Fair enough.

crisw's avatar

@gorillapaws is ABSOLUTELY CORRECT and wrote exactly what I was intending to write- down to linking to the exact same Skeptoid episode that I was going to provide!

Nullo's avatar

@Fyrius I stand by my statement, you contrarian canine. In mechanical terms, diabetics have broken pieces, the elderly worn-out parts. That’s not a maintenance thing, but a repair thing.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar


Get rid of the toxic people in your life. Simplify everything for yourself. And don’t buy into the lies that Big Pharma tells you. Stop eating processed foods and genetically modified foods whenever possible. Tank your microwave and eat as closely to natural as possible.

If someone is eating at McDonald’s or a lot of processed foods…there isn’t a supplement on the earth that will save their health. So, it’s wise to ingest good food and clean water as well as take supplements.

mowens's avatar

Water. Lots and lots of water. Ever since I switched from pop to water, I barely ever get sick. Drink so much water it flushes your system out. It sounds stupid, but it works like a charm.

Fyrius's avatar

+5 for “contrarian canine”.
But if you’re going to stand by your statement, I’m not going to make it easy for you. ;)
Enough talk. Have at thee.

So you’re going to distinguish between this damage restoration being “maintenance” and that damage restoration being “repair”? That’s a bit arbitrary.
Furthermore, as far as I know, there is no cure for many types of diabetes. For these people, the only way to not die is to maintain themselves by periodically injecting themselves with insulin, a substance that would be difficult or perhaps impossible to come by if it weren’t for the hard work of medical science. I think it’s quite an achievement of humankind that we can keep diabetic people alive.

And what of aging? What of that slow descent into irreparable disrepair, where your eyes lose focus, your bones turn brittle, your stamina fails, and eventually your very mind decays into senility or even full-on dementia, before hitting the rock bottom of total life support failure?
That’s a maintenance problem, all right. It’s what happens when the sloppy shortcomings of your body’s natural maintenance start to heap up.

Nullo's avatar

@Fyrius It’s what my mechanic would call it. “Maintenance” for Yoda is making sure that the oil, coolant/antifreeze, transmission fluid, windshield wiper fluid, and brake fluid are all at their proper levels, making sure that the tires have enough air, and so on. That’s what we, the medical laymen, can do. And it’s pretty easy. Repair is the domain of the mechanics doctors, and our own internal mechanisms.

gorillapaws's avatar

@DarlingRhadamanthus do you realize that “Big Pharma” owns the “all natural” supplement companies?

No honest doctor in his right mind would bypass the regulatory infrastructure that makes sure products are safe and effective for humans. If the product you linked really did what it claimed, then he would be banging down the door of the FDA trying to get it approved so that MD’s could prescribe it. It is a SCAM.

From “Available scientific evidence does not support the health claims made for Venus flytrap extract…. Most of the studies done on the herbal extract were conducted by the physician who patented the drug Carnivora, who also has a large financial stake in a clinic that administers the drug and in the company that manufactures the drug.”

thorninmud's avatar

I read recently that almost all of the symptoms of the common cold are caused by the action of the immune system itself, not by cellular damage caused by the virus (which actually seems to cause virtually no cellular damage). Ironically, the stronger one’s immune system, the more one is likely to suffer from a cold. This is why antihistamines are effective in relieving cold symptoms: they suppress the immune response.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Try this. I use it and hardly ever get sick:

Fyrius's avatar

If that’s your definition, then of course what the laypeople can do is going to be limited to the things easy enough that we can be trusted not to screw it up. All the more involved restoration will be too difficult to be “maintenance”.
And for that sort of thing, we get dentists to study the human mouth for years just so they can help the rest of us take proper care of our teeth. The fact remains that the totality of all the work that needs to be done to keep a person alive and healthy is complicated enough to keep several different kinds of specialists in school for half a decade, and that’s still not enough to fix every problem that can arise. And that’s just in a safe human-adapted environment like ours.

Just to be clear here, is your point that the human body is generally easy to keep in one piece, or that things that are not difficult are easy?

Rarebear's avatar

You don’t want to boost your immune system. The immune system is under very careful balance. Anything that boosts the immune system will lead to something called autoimmune disease. Examples are rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, celiac sprue, sjogrens disease, to name a few.

My advice to you is quit being such a hypochondriac.

YARNLADY's avatar

Discuss proper nutrition with a professional.

jazzticity's avatar

Someone with medical training please comment. This statement, even though taken (out of context) for Wiki, I believe is misleading: “Autoimmune diseases arise from an overactive immune response of the body.” The statement from another Wiki article is more to the point: “Autoimmunity is the failure of an organism to recognize its own constituent parts as self.”

I could be wrong, but there is a big difference. My read on this is that the problem is not that the immune system is too efficient, but only that its response is misplaced. The body should not be attacking itself. If it does, it’s the TARGET of the immune response that is out of whack. Boosting your immune system (if it indeed can be done) is not going to cause an Autoimmune disease. That’s a different problem. Can an expert comment?

JLeslie's avatar

@jazzticity Think about it like this. When a person is stung by a bee, there is typically an immune response, some inflammation at the sting site, maybe some itching. This is fighter cells responding to a foreign substance in the body. Sometimes the immune response is much more than necessary, and way to many histamines are released. The body feels like it is doing the right think by fighting, but it actually works against the person and they swell too much, throat my close up, and they can die. Each time the body gets better at responded to the next bee sting, and each time a bee sting is more deadly for that person.

Too much of an immune response can cause fevers so high it leaves the patient with brain damage, but the body is actually attacking the bacteria or virus, or flooding of tissues, all sorts of body gone haywire things.

When it comes to autoimmune it is considered to be the body attacking itself. The theory is it sees its own organism as a foreign body. So, a hyperstimulated immune system means there might be more chance of an autoimmune response if the self begins to wrongly recognize something that should be ok.

Personally, I believe eventually many many autoimmune diseases will be discovered to actually have an antagonist. This is my own theory, I am not a doctor, but I will give you some examples. Lymes disease was originally being observed as an arthritic type of disease scene in many children in Lyme, CT. They treated the children as they would with other arthritis diseases. Finally research was done and a bacteria was isolated, and they realized it was not an autoimmune disease, but the bodies reaction to this particular germ. The thing is, some people with Lymes are much sicker than others. Depends on the individuals immune system.

Other examples are stomach ulcers, which were later found to be bacterial infection after years of people thinking the body was producing too much stomach acid, or the patient was not coping with stress well. But, many people are asymptomatic with the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers, while others wind up with bleeding stomachs. Rheumatic Heart is another, there are many examples.

So, the immune system is a delicate thing. We want the body to respond to foreign agents, but not too much.

tranquilsea's avatar

@jazzticity, @Rarebear is a doctor. Read his post regarding auto-immune disorders.

Rarebear's avatar

@jazzticity Your two quotes are both correct. An autoimmune disease is the body having a runaway immune system and also attacking itself. That’s why autoimmune disease are treated with immune suppressing agents.

Nullo's avatar

@Fyrius This whole easy/difficult thing was an aside when I wrote it down. :\
I suppose that my point, such as it is, is that layman-grade maintenance is uncomplicated and easily performed, and goes a long way to keeping things working.

Fyrius's avatar

Lol, I know. My initial rebuttal was a minor side note to your post, too. Funny how these things escalate into seriousness.
I still don’t really agree with you, but I think we can call it a day.

mattbrowne's avatar

Alternating between hot and cold temperatures. Very natural. Not all rooms need heating in the winter for example. And a walk outside in the cold has the same effect.

cazzie's avatar

@mattbrowne That is how I always end up with a cold. I can spend a year in Norway, not get a cold, but when I go to the US in the summer time and go from the air conditioned malls to the hot muggy outside, I end up with a cold.

But, exercise in the fresh air, even if it’s around freezing, is good for you, but air conditioning isn’t. ick.

mattbrowne's avatar

@cazzie – Hmm, good point. For some reasons air conditioning seems different. I wonder why.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie It has been proven change in temperature does not cause colds. Viruses cause colds. In America more illness goes around in the winter than the summer, probably true in most countries. Maybe it is being in the mall, around more germs? Closed Spaces.

cazzie's avatar

@JLeslie My point was not that the change in temperature did it because, trust me, I live with that in Norway. My point was that the air conditioning in the summertime is bad for people’s health, not the change in temperature, but the use of those horrible air circulation systems.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie But, the heating systems run through the same systems, and again, there is more illness in winter. But, it does seem possible recirculating the air carries the germs.

crisw's avatar


Part of it is related to the drying effects of some air circulation systems. Mucus membranes that are overly dry are more susceptible to the entry of germs.

JLeslie's avatar

@crisw Winter, and especially heating systems are incredibly drying. My theory is since we know we catch colds by getting germs on our hands and touching our nose or eyes….many people get runny noses in cold weather, simply as a reaction to cold, and then we wipe our nose, and bring germs on our hands into our bodies. I bet, but I am not aware of any data, in the summer people with summer allergies get sick more often than people who don’t suffer with summer allergies because they are rubbing their itchy eyes and dealing with runny noses.

Rarebear's avatar

Another reason we get sicker in the winter is that we’re inside with closer exposure to people.

Nullo's avatar

@Rarebear If you’re ever feeling adventurous, take up residence in an open-plan, semi-finished basement with three other people, and then introduce, say, the common cold. Watch and be amazed at your very own epidemiological microcosm!
The best part is, you can, with little effort, use the same setting for any number of historical reenactments, sociological experiments, and poker nights!

jabag11's avatar

thanks guys!! I think what I won’t do is try to boost my immune system I don’t want to get any autoimmune disease!! so I guess I’m kind of stuck, the best thing I can do is just not touch my eyes or nose I guess, because i already drink only and plenty of water, wash my hands a lot, exercise and take all the vitamins one could ask for lol. as some of you may shit!! looks like i’m kinna stuck, i hate gettting sick!

Rarebear's avatar

@jabag11 I was making a point that one does not want to boost their immune system. You have to understand though, that the phrase “boost your immune system” is used by a lot of naturopathic products, and it’s all bunk. Even if you wanted to boost your immune system, which you don’t, these products won’t do it.

So take your vitamin C if you want to. It’s not going to hurt you—it’s just not going to help.

auntydeb's avatar

Phew! Talk about information overload, @jabag11 certainly has more than bargained for methinks. So, no more information, just a bit of advice from an aunty – and echoing much of the simple commonsense from fellow jellies above: eat good food, rest, exercise, enjoy…

But above all:
Live long and prosper, and may the Force be with you!

Tastentier's avatar

Expose yourself to other people’s germs every now and then. Sit in a doctor’s waiting room for hours while sick people cough and sneeze in your direction. A well-trained immune system is a healthy immune system. Other than that, just eat healthy and work out on a regular basis.

Rarebear's avatar

Good In Fact on immune system boosting here.

Rarebear's avatar

@tranquilsea If you like that, you’ll also like Same guy.

tranquilsea's avatar

@Rarebear lol, he has me with this, “Skeptoid is a weekly science podcast dedicated to furthering knowledge by blasting away the widespread pseudosciences that infect popular culture, and replacing them with way cooler reality.emphasis is mine.

I hear so many bizarre things that I am surprised I don’t have a permanent mark on my forehead from all the face-palming I do. But I’m sure you hear more than I would.

Rarebear's avatar

@tranquilsea It’s my favorite podcast. I have links to a bunch of other skeptic-related podcasts if you’re interested, but I like Brian’s the best because they’re short and to the point.

tranquilsea's avatar

@Rarebear If you could send them to me via PM so we don’t run afoul of the “General” rules that would be great.

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