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Botanicals Invigorate Immunity

The immune system is the body's ultimate defense against infectious agents such as bacteria and viruses. Traditional medicine uses botanicals and other natural substances to stimulate the body's defense mechanisms rather than substitute for them, as is often the case with modern Western medicine.

Many botanicals, including shiitake and maitake mushrooms, licorice, echinacea, ligustrum and astragalus, owe their effects to a group of polysaccharides--complex sugars that have the ability to activate white blood cells on the front lines of cellular defense. The polysaccharides also stimulate T cell formation and differentiation--T cells direct other cells in a specific immune response--as well as activate the complement system, a group of more than 25 blood proteins that play a vital role in the body's immune defenses.

It's best not to focus exclusively on individual botanical constituents, however, since multiple components appear to be involved in their therapeutic effects. Although researchers must focus on a single isolated compound to isolate specific activity, using whole herbs takes advantage of the multiple benefits plants offer.

Information provided in the Education section is provided by Woodland Publishing, Inc. and/or other independent third parties that are unaffiliated with Nutraceutical Corporation, and is intended to provide an electronic reference library about nutrition and health. The views expressed in the Education section are the views of the authors and have not been independently viewed or confirmed by Nutraceutical, and are not necessarily the views of Nutraceutical Corporation. © 1998-2003 Woodland Publishing, Inc. and/or the respective copyright owner. For more information call Woodland Publishing at 800-877-8702.

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