Plants that Help your Immune System and Respiratory Health

 in Lifestyle

These plant remedies are meant to help soothe symptoms and boost your immune system and are not a cure or replacement for proper handwashing and other medications. These remedies can be used like ibuprofen or cough syrup, and they MAY help you feel better but THEY WILL NOT PREVENT the spread of infection or disease. Plants are amazing, but they are not magic. If you feel worse contact your doctor by phone immediately. Avoid public places as much as you can, call in sick to work or school, take proper precautions to prevent the spread of your illness. 

Plants that can help boost your Immune system


Garlic has been used to counter infections for generations; it is especially good at countering infections of the nose, throat and chest. It has been used against bronchial infections and can help reduce mucus. While it is a natural antibiotic, it usually takes more time and its application is not consistent, therefore, it doesn’t replace prescription antibiotics in the case of serious infections. *It is critical to crush garlic with a knife or by chewing in order to release more of its properties. I usually use a garlic press and drink it in water.
How to use garlic:

Chew a fresh clove of garlic for as long as you can tolerate and swallow.
If chewing is not an option, crush with a knife or garlic press and drink in 1 cup or less of water.


This plant is a powerhouse of vitamin C and we all know we need more of that to boost immunity and prevent cold and flu, because of its vitamin content, ginger is considered one of the worlds best medicines. Furthermore, it sooths digestion, and nausea related to morning sickness, motion sickness or other illnesses. It is a warming and soothing plant making it great in tea when you have a cough, cold or other respiratory issues. 

How to use ginger:
Infuse 2-3 slices of fresh ginger in each 1 cup of water.
Bring water to a boil, add the ginger and simmer covered for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep covered for 10 minute. Remove the lid and inhale the steam, serve and drink the tea.  Drink up to 3-4 cups a day

Lemon or Lime

This is a well known plant in home remedies because it is a familiar food and well known for it’s high vitamin C content. It is also arguably the most available and easy to use of all plants. Vitamin C makes your immune system strong and is part of helping you resist infections, cold and flu. It is one of the most valuable preventative medicines used through the world.
How to use lemon:
Drink the juice of 1 fresh lemon squeezed as is or diluted in 1 cup of water. Drink once a day

( thyme and echinacea also help your immune system, see notes below) 

Plants that help your immunity and aid respiratory tract health 


One of my favorite plants. Thyme is an antiseptic, antifungal and an expectorant. It can help boost the immune system if you have chronic infections as well as help alleviate those illnesses that settle in the lungs making it a good respiratory remedy. Because it stimulates the immune system, it may also help lessen the length of standard cold and flu.

How to use thyme: 

Make an infusion of 1 teaspoon of herb for each 1 cup of water. Bring the water to a boil, add the herb and leave covered for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and inhale the steam. Drink up to 5 cups a day. 

German Chamomile

This familiar tea is often used for sleepy time and that relaxing property is not only good for a night’ sleep (which will always help) but can help relax the muscles surrounding your lungs and respiratory tract. It is especially good as a steam inhalation, but drinking it is fine too.

How to use chamomile:
Make an infusion of two heaping spoonfuls of the herb in every 1 cup of water (or use one premade teabag per cup). Bring the water to a boil, add the herb and leave covered for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and inhale the steam, serve and drink the tea. Repeat up to 3-6 times a day.

Alternatively use an essential oil in steam inhalation or inhale 2 drops of undiluted oil on a small cloth and breath in. 


A North America flower this is one of the world’s most important medicinal herbs (probably I’m exaggerating as I know less about Asian herbs and remedies, but I’m allowed home continent bias.) Research shows echinacea raises the body’s natural ability to resist viral and bacterial infections. It is a general stimulant to the immune system and some of echinacea’s active components also inhibit a virus’s ability to enter and take over cells. It of course isn’t fool proof and may not protect against all types of infections, but it’s a good addition to all diets regardless, especially those with compromised immune systems.

How to use echinacea:
Take a capsule daily or ½ teaspoon of tincture with water 2-3 times daily.
If you can get the root you can add 2 teaspoons for each cup of water, or use premade teabags. 

Note:  These should not be given to children under 2 years or age, if you have concerns ALWAYS CONSULT A DOCTOR. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding avoid all unknown plant medicines unless advised by a medical professional. After the first 3 months of pregnancy, 1 cup of thyme and ginger daily are generally safe to use but some women with weak uterine walls will be advised against using all herbs during the entire length of their pregnancy. If you take medications or have any other serious complications always check with your doctor before starting a herbal remedy. 

Worried about Infectious Diseases?
See WHO guidelines here
See CDC guidelines here

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