Supplements That Boost Immune System | Do They Really Work?

Boost immune system with Elderberries.

Do supplements really help boost the immune system? It depends what you read. Many mainstream publications hint that some of them may help, while also downplaying the notion that it’s a “cure all”.

That sounds reasonable. It’s not so simple as taking a pill or supplement to boost your immune system, and then expecting to be protected. There’s more to it than that…

With that said, it is my opinion that some of these supplements may help to an extent. Researching some of these has uncovered many real-world examples of apparent success. However I do feel that it’s just part of the story.

I’ll get to supplements in a minute. But first, and likely most important, are factors involving one’s lifestyle. Here’s what I mean…

Healthy ways to strengthen your immune system

Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies such as these:

Don’t smoke.

Eat a diet high in fruit and vegetables.

Exercise regularly.

Maintain a healthy weight.

If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.

Get adequate sleep.

Try to minimize stress.

Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently.


All that is boring, right? Why can’t we have a pill or supplement to fix this?? (sarcasm)

Aging Immune System

Here’s another thing — Immune system and age. As we age, our immune response capability is lessened.

“While some people age healthily, the conclusion of many studies is that, compared with younger people, the elderly are more likely to contract infectious diseases and, even more importantly, more likely to die from them.” 

Well that’s just great. Sucks getting older. But that’s all the more reason to pay attention to one’s lifestyle. AND to consider the potential benefits of supplements:

Best Supplements To Boost Immune System During Cold & Flu Season

By the way, the reason I’m writing this today is due to the present current-event of nCoV coronavirus. This may or may not go global pandemic. However whatever we can add to our arsenal for potential protection is a good thing…

Disclaimer: This (or any comments below) is not medical advice. Do your due-diligence regarding research.

Elderberry Syrup

This one keeps popping up as seemingly a best immune system booster during flu season. I know that many regulars here on the blog believe this to be true as well.

From, “One proprietary formulation of elderberry extract sold under the name Sambucol® has shown an ability to fight flu symptoms in a few small studies,”

“So for most people, it likely wouldn’t hurt to include elderberry as part of a healthy diet as flu season approaches, along with foods high in vitamin C, vitamin B6 and vitamin E, to support the immune system.”

Well that sounds promising… So of course I looked it up on amzn:

Sambucol Black Elderberry (syrup)

Sambucol Black Elderberry (gummies)

Vitamin Supplements During Flu Season

Here are a few more immune system boosters to consider:

Vitamin D

I’ve read many supporting statements and reports that supplementing with Vitamin D3 when you’ve got low levels can reduce risk of infection, and reduce inflammation in your lungs. And guess what? A huge percentage of our US population is Vitamin D deficient.

Related article: Winter Blues | Low Vitamin D

Vitamin C

The benefits of vitamin C are well established. Eating fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C is the best way (list of fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C). A supplement is your next best thing.


From Mercola, “Many are deficient in zinc due to mineral-depleted soils, drug effects, plant-based diets, and other diets high in grain…”

“A zinc supplement is a simple, inexpensive way to augment your dietary intake of this important mineral, but make sure you choose a chelated form to ensure absorbability.”

Herbal Antivirals

I just wanted to point out a highly rated book, recommended by several of our MSB readers.

Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections


Lets hear from you. What’s your opinion and/or recommendations for supplements that boost immune system?

Continue reading: Natural Remedies for the Immune System

How To Survive A Pandemic


  1. ok really serious question here and if a doc could answer that would really be good i read awhile ago while looking for natural way to kill pain that GINGER really seems to one of those things that REALLY does a lot so i tried it and for ME it has killed pain lowered my a1c and done a lot for my whole gut system so my question is HOW MUCH OF THIS IS BACKED UP BY SCIENCE AND WOULD IT WORK AGAINST THIS ???

    1. Kevin,.
      Not a Doc nor do i play one on TV. been care giving since 1978, in some mannner.
      Good on you. You found something that works for you. Science is paid for by pharma..many of the studies are skewed and those that buck the system are removed from it or not paid.. Nothing to see here , move along.
      Pain relief effectiveness depends on the TYPE of pain… muscle, joint or nerve pain.. Tumeric helps some people.. all should not take it.Investigate. I use willow bark, can get already encapsulated.It works for muscle aches, fevers,.It is not hard on stomach, like pharmas counterpart, those allergic to Asprin should not take it..
      …for A1c consider adding cinnamon. some research (1970-80 era) has shown AFTER it is taken for 2 months, is effective for 4-6 weeks after. (source was a dr’s book- I lent to someone and has not been returned.) by Timothy of the Book has been repeated by another author…the diabetes cure .. has a picture of his Mom on front…
      Herbal care/self medication interferes with them selling pharma drugs that are modified a small amount and marketed as new drugs. Why would they care? It’s only paper with writing and pictures on it. I am not currently taking any rx’d drugs.DH takes one that has no effective replacement, some assist -Pharma drug- but not replaced.Back up supply can not happen due to monitored nature of drug..( not pain med).

  2. I haven’t had any luck with commercial elderberry products, but using my own home-grown elderberry berries (picked very ripe) and processed at home is extremely effective as an anti-viral. Stops almost everything in its tracks. Even my DH used it this year and is a believer now. Anyone else see a difference?

    1. When my husband was still alive, we were either at a doctor office or hospital for test weekly. We both took elderberry daily and never brought anything home. Mine was also homemade.

    2. Timberplot,
      Thing I like about home-grown elderberry syrup is I can safely give it to the grandkids. if they won’t take a spoonful, I put it on their pancakes.

    3. Up here in North Idaho we have elderberries growing wild everywhere. I like to pick them and make home made jelly. Maybe I’ll try to make syrup this next year with them. I made pancake syrup with them a few times, would this be the same thing??

      1. BBC,
        Yup, syrup is what you need. Question for you. How did you get elderberry jelly to set? Did you double the pectin? All my elderberry Jerry failures were fermented into wine, but I do want to figure the jelly out.

        1. Yes, I added extra pectin, and I cheated a little. About a quarter of the berries I cooked down were concord grapes from my grape vine. A plus, because it gave the jelly a real good flavor.

        2. BBC
          There is a quick cook corn starch that you might think about using since the pectin is failing. Does not leave a taste in the food. I use it for canned apple/peach pie filling.

  3. As I posted before, we are taking the over-the-counter drug Airborne, which is loaded with vit’s C,D, zinc, and other good stuff like Lysine. Has worked for us in the past along with elderberry syrup too.
    We’re in our 60’s , in good health, and exercise with the dog daily.

    1. Another product for severe flu is Viracid. It has mega vit’s ,zinc, Elderberry extract, and L-Lysine in it. We got our (where else ?) from Amazon.

    2. When I was working I used to keep Air Borne in my desk all the time! It does help.

  4. DH got the flu last year 2018 version…he treated it with our home made version of tamiflu. was better after second dose.I took oil of oregano and never caught it. we were exposed at same time. only went one place..I continue to take my Oil of oregano.

    1. JS
      Oil of oregano,
      The essential oil?
      Or is it a different blend?
      Was looking at some on Mountain Rose Herbs,

  5. Nearly all of the pharma began with some sort of plant, mold, mushrooms. Then big pharma test and either rearranges or synthesizes the sought for ingredient. Next is the patent so they can make the dollars and control the substance. A plant in nature cannot be patented.

  6. Let us not forget about Jewish Penicillin……good ole chicken broth. Must use the skin as that is where the medicine is.

    1. Oy! we like ours with a Matzo ball or two, good stuff. The DW relies on homemade cream of Broccoli with cheddar cheese when she is ill. Can’t stand the stuff myself, yuck!

      1. Seminole Wind, Another option”an educated friend” just gave me.. : Fresh Bone broth with astralagus sticks in it.. They are drinking it daily.. Make a batch and put astraagus sticks in it and stir with it… said not bad taste… immue boost.

  7. note on Elderberries, most of the plant including the seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides and alkaloids. Seeds have cyanide and should be consumed fresh ONLY in SMALL quantities. The flowers and ripe berries when cooked without seeds are deemed ok. When cooked and strained for syrup and jelly all is ok. As for small children maybe no fresh at all?
    Wikipedia on the American Elderberry, Sambucas canadensis

    1. Mrs. U,
      I would agree, no fresh for kids. Actually, I think elderberry is better when cooked down, there is no advantage to eating it raw. Stephen Buhner mentions in his book, “Herbal Antivirals” that the leaves and bark of the elderberry can be used also. Not going to attack my elderberry plants to try though, I just checked and I have 4 gallons of frozen berries in the freezer.

    2. I strain out the seeds after smashing the berries. The pulp goes into a sterile jar then covered with vodka. Sits on a jar for about 6-8 weeks, shaking every few days in a dark closet. Strain into sterile bottles. 3 tablespoons in 8 oz water two or three times a day when just feeling illness coming on. Usually gone (illness) next day or two.

      I see syrup mentioned here. Does that use lots of sugar?

      1. DJ5280
        If you use this search bases, you will find an article written by the lady we know for her elderberry recipe.
        Using DuckDuckGo, use this in the search bar: Cold and Flu by Michele Cooper.
        Believe it will be the 2nd article down, no she is not an MD. That may pop up fyi.
        Then you can print out her recipe for the tincture and syrup.

        As in reference to the sugar 3/4-1 cup in processing of this syrup.

      2. DJ5280,
        Just made a big batch of elderberry syrup. 10 cups fresh (frozen) elderberries, 10 cups filtered water, and 10 cups sugar. I first boil the berries in the water for about an hour, mash and strain. return liquid to pot and add sugar. I then pour into quart jars and hot water bath process. Two things here, one is all the sugar. One could reduce that or replace with honey for taste. The other seems to be the amount of water. other formulas I have seen use more water. that may be good also, I just use a one to one ratio, so I guess my syrup is stronger. This recipe is what I use for elderberry syrup. My wine is about the same, which is basically elderberry syrup that is diluted a little bit, then fermented.(Still working on a good ratio for that). just what I do, not necessarily the best.

        1. Thanks everyone for the info. The syrups are better for children too, I think.

      3. I think with any berries there is also benefits contained in their skins. Smashing up the berries releases these compounds also, I think. I’m not an herbalist, just surmising here.

  8. I take garlic and honey. I’ve been using pickled (non-fermented) garlic and it seems to work the same. I’m thinking of doing a batch in honey and see what happens.

    1. Lauren,
      Ive been wondering what candied garlic would taste like?
      If made with honey and lemon?
      Cooked off a bit then into dehydrator

    2. Lauren, process the garlic for allicin.. I used 30 toes of garlic for 8-10 oz of vinegar,w/10 cc a dose.I have also taken it mixed with honey… works well either way.
      If i get sore throat i add to each 1/2 teaspoon of garlic and honey mixture. a sprinkle of cayenne-mix it in .I repeat on q3 hours.This is the only way i can use cayenne.

  9. Another strategy: Stop eating added sugar because it suppresses your immune system.

  10. I’ve learned about herbals and essential oils from this website. What has been shared here that applied was noted, then researched. I will learn about for the rest of my life.

    I take calcium, magnesium citrate, Zinc, Vit D, and Vit C supplements. I exercise regularly, don’t smoke or drink, don’t eat out, stay away from crowds, drink plenty of well water (Berkey-filtered), sleep well, and try to stay as stress free as possible. Last year, we did not shop for months (during ‘flu season’) and I took supplements. We were flu and cold free. We haven’t had a cold or a flu for several years.

    I have a couple of diffusers and use them daily. I use a blend of peppermint, lemon, and lavender essential oils to keep allergies ‘in check.’ I recently switched to the Thieves Oil blend that I make. Lots of recipes online for that oil blend.

    We have 3 large elderberry bushes (they’re more like trees, at 12-feet). We have about a half gallon frozen berries right now, and 1 quart of home-brewed elderberry tincture. At this point, we haven’t started taking the tincture….should we begin now?

    I am very appreciative of all of the help and guidance from those who are knowledgeable!

    1. Modern Throwback ,
      if it was me, and I was secluded in home… and did not go out /had not been out.. I would hold off on elderberry tincture for now. However, If I knew I was going out tomorrow- I would take a preemptive dose tonight..and for a few days after any possible exposure.
      Elderberry/ It is considered safe by herbalists to take at one time daily dose for months on end…my reasoning for me,….I do not handle alcohol well..(surgical effect)so minimize my tinctures of all kinds.
      Other options… Consider getting myrrh for diffuser, for occasional use. If you have a colloidal silver generator , it can be used as well- in clean diffuser… for sinus issues. I have not used it but have heard others say it helps them greatly.
      Consider making half of the berries up in tincture and save remaining ones for syrup.. the tincture will keep a very long time when made up with PGA..If you leave it longer than recommended it will hurt nothing and will extract a little more… i try to do each stage of my tinctures 4 weeks, but for elder shorter times of 2 weeks is considered effective for extraction.. as long as plant material is covered with alcohol it will not ruin. The syrup I would make in small batches as needed. it has a limited shelf life in refrig..
      We have a heavy outbreak of flu in our area the seasonal one. we have not received the blessing yet.(snark) the tamiflu homemade is ready, Should we require it. IT does NOT taste as good as Elderberry. but does work well.When active symptoms q 4hours for herbal remedies is considered necessary for quickest resolution.

      1. Just Sayin’:
        You have been a tremendous asset for all of us. My elderberry syrup and capsules are on the AMZ Prime wagon for same day delivery by 21.00. Thank you for giving so freely of your knowledge.

        1. tmcgyver,
          You are welcome. Elderberry should stop. daily use minimum. for high risk persons, I would begin on q 4 hour schedule for 3 days.then daily..most natural remedies are q 4 hour effective window.. nature does not release in long acting varieties. Major concern is transmission before sickness is symptomatic. Pneumonia and organ shutdown is cause(s) of death.
          Consider taking liver kidney cleanse products to give your body best chance of shedding extra toxins.. dandelion and milk thistle are cheap and easy, both come as hot teas.( strategy also helps with weight loss). Search for all natural holistic,things immune boosting MT had a good start on that list. above.. Echinacea when used with Vitamin A ( limit to 2 doses of Vitamin A , and zinc is considered hgh immunity boost as well. Will move rest of this to other thread…

      2. Just sayin,
        Thanks for all of your input. You have valuable knowledge and experience. Update on the wild lettuce; Still using the tincture and it definitely helps. It is not, nor likely ever will be, the end all/be all. It helps and I’ll continue using it. I much prefer the dried leaves between cheek and gum.

        1. Plainsmedic,
          I get wild lettuce in the vineyard, I consider it a weed. You are welcome to come harvest all you want this Spring. LOL. I might start using it for pain based on your experience. but I will still have way more than I want.

        2. Minerjim, My rabbits love the wild lettuce leaves.., if you have /raise rabbits you might consider this for good extra/free forage…. I have the one that blooms yellow , is wild, it works fairly well for sleep but not pain. Have the best one to plant for pain to get in the ground……

        3. Plainsmedic, Glad you are getting some relief . and something i said was able to help. I am just a conduit.

  11. Copious amounts of an alcoholic beverage before bedtime has always worked for me.

  12. I have been talking with two friends in different parts of China today via WeChat. It seems this situation has grown well beyond the control of the CCP censors; they aren’t even trying anymore; they are hiding. I’ve got screenshots of local news over there which essentially corroborates what we are hearing in the US. That’s as novel as the virus itself.

    Our main factory is closed at least an additional week after LNY ends. That news came from my boss today. On Friday he was of the impression that a big deal was being made of it by the media. Something happened over the weekend which radically changed his mind.

    1. TMc,
      Thanks for the update. Always good to have an ear on the inside. When the “official news” from the gov’t starts becoming more scarce, you kinda have to suspect things are going from bad to worse. Hope your friends over there are able to safely shelter for awhile.

    2. tmcgyver
      Baby sister spoke with out dentist he is from China. According to him if his parents want to go to a store they have to make arrangements to be escorted to the store and back.
      Any one violation of the quarantine zone is automatic 7 years prison sentence. He is not aware of how bad this is, nor what medical items they will require to survive. Have an idea about how old his parents could be, and they are in the range for non survival.

  13. Supplements couldn’t hurt. I upped our vitamin C stores and wife took them back as they were made in China. We’ve been on multivits and Vitamin D for a long time. News just came on and said we now have 100 confirmed cases in 26 states. DW is out shopping and for last minute stuff. think we will be hunkering down pretty quickly.

    Ken do I have a response in moderation?

  14. Organic Apples. The old saying, An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away has merit. Many old sayings have merit if we take a minute to consider them.

  15. To Ken and all of the Posters over the many years that I have been reading blogs such as this, THANK YOU for all that you have taught me and mine. God Bless and stay safe.

    Watch out fur dem hogs !

    1. Yep – lots of good info – I just get the conversation going and all the excellent commenters do the rest ;) Having done this for 10 years of my life, it is satisfying to know that a few people have been helped.

      1. Ken,
        Now how smart is that? “I just get the conversation going and all the commenters do the rest.”

        That’s what my Dad would have called “Using your Noggin’ “!

        Glad you have been able to keep at it for 10 years. Here’s to another ten!

    2. Seminole Wind

      Kens expertise is un-matched.

      But, your post are also very great.

Recipe i came across for elder syrup
    * 3½ cups water
    * 2/3 cup black elderberries (dried, or 1 1/3 cups fresh or frozen)
    * 2 TBSP ginger (grated)
    * 1 tsp  cinnamon
    * ½ tsp  ground cloves
    * 1 cup raw honey
    Combine all but honey, bring to just under a boil, let cool, add honey, blend or mash, run through a fine strainer, voila, elder syrup!

    Sounded easy to me,,,
    Was on a ste called wellness mama

    1. Kulafarmer, remember syrups have a limited shelf life, tinctures made with strongest pure grain alcohol is much longer…years longer…if left in the jar until needed. if you have enough..a daily dose,has potential to stop vials from gaining a “toehold”. Preventing this will be critical. some scientists and Drs are…mentioning chronic heart conditions after in 12% and COPD as an after effect… neither are desireable… Just thinkin’

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