WANTED: A Boost for my Immune System

butterflychaser(z7)March 13, 2006

Hey guys, I'm wondering if anyone knows of some herb or even a drug that will boost my immune system.

I've been dealing with kidney stones and infections for about 12 years. In Sept, I ended up in the hospital with a severe kidney infection (which I'm sure I had since sometime in the spring) and a large stone blocking my kidney. I was then on antibiotics for about two months straight, and I had lithotripsy to bust up the stones, which I'm still trying to pass. (No fun there!)

I've been on and off antibiotics several times since Sept. (more on them than off). And the infection is still there! I've been in quite a lot of pain this past week. The doc has me back on antibiotics AGAIN! He and I are becoming quite concerned, and I'm quite tired of being so sick and in pain. He is threatening to require me to do another $1400 CT scan (which I cannot afford) to try again to locate the source of the infection.

I believe that I have simply been on antib's so long that the bacteria has built up a resistance to it. Ladyblues1965 (Kelley) was visiting me yesterday and she said all the antib's are running down my body's own immune system. She's recommended that I start taking Echinacea to boost my immune system. So once I'm done with the antib's, I plan to start on the Echinacea and Acidolphollus.

Are there other herbs or vitamins or something that will give my immune system a good, fast boost? I do take multivitamins already.

It seems I had heard about some immune-boosting drug for cancer patients. Is anyone aware of any immune-boosting drug?

I'll be seeing my doc again in 3 weeks and I intend to discuss any information I get with him and see what he recommends. But I'd like to research my options before the appointment so I'll be prepared to ask the appropriate questions.

Does anyone have any suggestions? If we can't clear up the infection, and another CT scan doesn't give us any clues, I may end up losing the kidney.

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Don't know if this will help or not. One of the most mentioned immune enhancing herbs that I hear of is astragalus membranaceus, an Asian herb. I copied and pasted a small bit of info on it.

Astragalus membranaceus:
"It is also used as a tonic to protect the liver and kidneys from toxins, to increase energy, support digestion, improve circulation and to increase the activity of white blood cells as well as the production of antibodies and interferon, a protein which appears to induce an immune response against cancer and viral disease."

Also, Oil of Oregano is a powerful herb and is usually tolerated by most people. You have to buy it in an oil or capsule form. I have taken the capsules and other then, if you burp, it tasting like pizza, I never had a problem with it. You need to make sure it is from the wild oregano plants (should say on bottle) The carvacrol content is what you are looking for. Several popular nutrition companies put it out and you can sometimes even find it at the local drugstore. Info below copied from a couple locations. Hope this helps and hope you feel better soon!

Oil of Oregano:
"Oregano is also an excellent antibacterial agent. Its volatile oils are highly active against the majority of pathogenic bacteria, including staph, strep, and E.coli.
Isomeric phenols (primarily carvacrol) in oregano oil in dilutions as low as 1/50,000 destroys Candida albicans, the Aspergillus mold, Staphylococcus, Campylobacter, Klebsiella, E.coli, Giardia, Pseudomonas, and Proteus. Another phenol constituent, thymol, boosts the immune system. These compounds also act as free radical scavengers (shield against toxins) thus preventing further tissue damage while encouraging healing.

Oil of oregano is antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic. It also has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and is an ideal product to use for people who suffer from CFS and/or fibromyalgia. This is not regular oregano, but a wild form (wild mountain oregano, vulgare species) of the spice, which has, until recently, not been available in Canada. Do not use a substitute or oregano from a grocery store because it will have no effect. oil of oregano natural herbal supplement offers a variety of remedies

Furthermore, fungal resistance to oregano oil is exceptionally rare. Oregano is such a potent antifungal agent that it is capable of destroying even resistant fungal forms such as the mutated fungi which result from antibiotic therapy."

And From Science Daily:
"Oregano Oil May Protect Against Drug-Resistant Bacteria, Georgetown Researcher Finds"
(Washington, DC) -- "Oil from the common herb oregano may be an effective treatment against dangerous, and sometimes drug-resistant bacteria, a Georgetown researcher has found. Two studies have shown that oregano oil--and, in particular, carvacrol, one of oregano's chemical components--appear to reduce infection as effectively as traditional antibiotics. These findings were presented at the American College of Nutrition's annual meeting October 6 and 7 in Orlando, Fla."

    Bookmark   March 14, 2006 at 12:18AM
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starmoon(Z5 NY)

From someone who suffers from kidney stones myself, you may want to check out gravel root, aka joe pye weed. It's a great stone busting herb. I take it in a tincture form when I feel my kidneys "backing up". Here is more info on it:


Uva ursi is another great herb to combine with gravel root for good urinary system heath. Here is a good description of how this herb works:


For immune system boosting, echinacea, goldenseal, vitamin C, cat's claw, ginseng and garlic are usually my first resort, but the best immune booster I am aware of is actually mushrooms, especially maitake mushrooms. Here is a great description of this mushroom's properties from ttp://www.whatreallyworks.co.uk/start/factsheets.asp?article_ID=112

Maitake: One of the more exotic immune-boosting supplements to get noticed in the West is the Maitake mushroom (Grifoloa frondosa) which grows to the size of a basketball deep in the mountains of Northeastern Japan. Highly prized for its immune-boosting properties, it has been shown to stimulate the immune response by activating the T-cells which are the bodys own defence against viruses and cancer cells. Recent animal studies revealed that combining maitake extract with chemotherapy treatment resulted in a 99% tumour shrinkage in just 14 days. Studies in the US, Japan and the UK have also shown that giving maitake extract to HIV patients can help protect the bodyÂs disease-fighting T-cells which the HIV virus normally destroys. Said to improve liver function too, it contains powerful polysaccharides; chemicals known to boost the immune system and is currently in clinical trials with both HIV and cancer patients. The recommended dosage it between 3-7g per day.

What your friend said about the antibiotics taking down your immune system is true. You may want to either get some acidophilus supplements to restore your good intestinal bacteria (they help you fight infection, as well doing as other good things like making vitamin k) or eat lots of yogurt containing these beneficial bacteria (Stonyfield Farms is the best).

Good luck to you.

-starmoon *)

    Bookmark   March 14, 2006 at 5:54AM
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minibim(FL z10)

What about blueberries and cranberries for making your urinary system healthier?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2006 at 7:16AM
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gardeningwithbaby(zone 4 NE)

I have suffered from kidney stones and kidney infection on and off. One thing that I have found that helps is plain old water. Lack of water in the system can cause calcium to build up and form stones. Also like someone mentioned blueberries and cranberries. If I remember right they add something to the kidneys that make it hard for infections and stones to form and stick around.


    Bookmark   March 14, 2006 at 8:46AM
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Wow, I'm glad I asked you guys. I've written down all those suggestions and will discuss them with my doc.

As far as dissolving stones, there really is no way to do that. I'm sorry to dispell any beliefs anyone may have about that, but I tried everything over the years to keep from having surgery. There is nothing powerful enough to dissolve kidney stones without dissolving the kidneys too. No herb and no Rx drug. You wouldn't believe some of the home remedies I tried, and still the stones grew.

I do drink lots of water. In fact that's about all I drink. I used to eat a lot of salt and sugar, but much research says salt and sugar are primary causes of stones. So I cut out as much as I could stand, little by little.

And did you know that you shouldn't drink much cranberry juice? People always think that it helps the kidneys, but it is very high in sugar. My urologist said don't get it. Get fresh cranberries (YUCK) or cranberry pills, which I take. But an interesting note, after the surgery to put in a stint to drain my kidney, the nutritionist added Cranberry Juice to all my meals at the hospital.

The real problem now is just that my immune system has been stressed for years with recurrent, serious infections. And I've just got to build it up. I don't get simple little infections that are cleared up with one round of antib's. It always takes two or three rounds to clear it out. And then it comes back again later. My stones were quite large and put a big strain on my left kidney. I have small stones in my right kidney, but the right one never bothers me.

Does anyone know about Aloe Vera Juice? I have a gallon of it. I was told it had immune-boosting properties. I bought it when I was dealing with a tumor but I've only had a cup or two of it.

Thanks everybody for your input. I'm going to do some research and formulate some questions for the good old doc. I hope he's receptive to herbal healing. So many of them aren't. But obviously modern medicine is failing me so it's time to change tactics.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2006 at 9:39AM
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walktrotcanter99(z5 MI)

Holy crap, butterflychaser. That is a lot to deal with. I wish you the very best of luck with this. I wish I knew what to tell you. I went through a slight scare with this, and can only imagine what you are dealing with, between the pain and the fatigue, and just general malaise. Best wishes

    Bookmark   March 14, 2006 at 11:34AM
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stage_rat(5--Indiana Riviera)

Wow, dealing with your kidney stones and infections sounds really difficult. How frustrating to have the infections as well as the stones. The link I included, from Cedars-Sinai Hospital, discusses a lot of different supplements/dietary restrictions to reduce the formation of kidney stones. The specify that they're addressing the most common type of kidney stone, calcium oxalate, and if your kidney stones are calcium phosphate or something else, some or all of the material may not apply. Were your stones analyzed? If not, it seems like they need to be!

I'll keep poking around, looking for interesting articles, but I don't have any immune-booster to recommend from personal experience. You probably know this, but eating healthily and sleeping a lot do an enormous amount of good, and reducing stress or dealing with it better through meditation/prayer etc. does a lot, too.

So can seeing a specialist, as we learned from my dad's pancreas problems. Are you seeing a kidney specialist? We could not believe how much the diagnosis and treatment changed between the general practitioner and the pancreas specialist.

Also, is it hindsight that had you realize you'd had that infection since the spring, or did you kind of know all along? Early treatment is the easier way--it's kind of like "What size army do you want to have to fight? A small one, or a huge one?"

Best of luck to you with dealing with this, and I will post any further links if I find a helpful one.


    Bookmark   March 14, 2006 at 3:58PM
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Hey Annette,

I'm pretty sure I acquired the stones years ago when I worked in construction. I drank a lot of soda and worked in the heat, and stayed dehydrated, altho I didn't realize it. After the first infection, I weened myself from sodas and drink only water now and occasionally some fruit juice. I really think the stones were formed from a combination of perpetual dehydration and high salt and sugar intake.

I did have the stones analyzed and forgot to ask the doc about them last week. But he did suggest cutting out the sugar. My sugar level is high, altho I haven't been diagnosed as a diabetic yet.

And yes, I'm seeing a urologist, not a general practitioner. For once I've found a doc who will treat me. Other docs kept misdiagnosing me. I was told once that I was imagining the pain. I was also told I needed to just learn to live with it.

So when I suspected I had an infection in April or May, I didn't pay much attention to it. My body has learned to be tough and endure the pain and fatigue. And honestly, I didn't want to fight anymore with the docs.
I was very fortunate that the doc I have now was on call when I went to the ER. He's wonderful! He makes sure I have both the meds for the pain and for the infections.

The hardest part for me is the fatigue. I've always been very hyper and with the infection, I just wanna sleep so much. I've got things t'do!

Due to lifestyle changes and awareness, I don't think kidney stones will be a problem in the future, once I pass what I have. I just need to rebuild my immune system. It's really been taxed in the last few years.

You guys have all been great with the info. Thank you!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2006 at 4:43PM
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suzanne_719(z6b OK)

Don't give up, butterflychaser. It sounds like you're on the right track with your new doctor. I have no advice on herbs and such, but hopefully one of the herbs mentioned above will help. Wishing you better health soon!

Take care,

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 8:58AM
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darlene87(z7 Wa)

I hope that you are taking a good yogurt or probiotic along with all the meds. The anitbiotics kill good and bad guys in your gut, then eventually you have problems with your colon. A good yogurt, with no sugar or gelatin, or a good probiotic, taken with meals. That you get at the health food store, there are many types available as pills. Or you could search, "antibiotics and the colon" and get a lot of info.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2006 at 2:52AM
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grovespirit(Zone 9)

I also had a case of kidney stones myself and a resulting weakened immune system, in December 2008. Very painful. You definitely have empathy from me!

The best remedies I know of for boosting the immune system include WATER, EXERCISE, stress reduction, meditation, and getting adequate sleep (neither too much nor too little). And there are also some herbs and dietary changes that help.

Regular aerobic and weight bearing exercise (but not too much exercise) is vital to keep an immune system healthy and strong!

We need about one hour of walking every single day to keep an immune system healthy. Go at whatever pace your energy level allows- if you are in pain and tired from all the recent illness it'll be necessary to walk slowly. In addition to the walking, 30 minutes of weight bearing exercise every 2 to 3 days will strengthen the body and this will also strengthen the immune system.

Drink 3 gallons a day of reverse osmosis water. Reverse osmosis is best if at all possible. Filtered tap water from a Brita or Pur filter, etc. *still* contains the dissolved ions that your body has been turning into stones. And most spring water also has dissolved ions in it. Not kidding about the amount. At least 3 gallons of reverse osmosis water per day.

3 gallons seems like an awful lot of water and I know personally that it is difficult to drink this much. Nonetheless it's VERY important to drink this much despite the difficulty. The only way to drink this much each day is to CONSTANTLY drink.

If you do something that makes you sweat, drink more after you sweat. Each time you go to the bathroom you lose some water, so drink then too. And anytime you are bored or on a work/study break or stuck in traffic, drink. If you ever *actually* feel thirsty it means you haven't been drinking often enough.

No matter where you go, you gotta bring a liter of reverse osmosis water- churches, parks, libraries, school, offices, jobs or interviews, amusement parks, restaurants, movies, sports events, bars (if you go to those), malls, and inside your car. Even to places that try to disallow people bringing in water or 'beverages' so they can sell you their drinks. They will have to be shown a doctors note telling them they HAVE to let you bring in your own water.

And if these places still don't let you bring water in, don't go inside. Boycott them and tell others not to do business with them because those places are disrespectful of public health. Go somewhere else instead, your health has to come first.

It's a hassle to drink this much AND it is necessary to do so anyway. To boost the body's ability to fight infections and to heal damaged kidney tissue, the body needs LOTS of water. Also water is vital to strengthen the immunity overall, and it also will really help pass the stones faster so you spend less time suffering as they are trying to come out.

In my experience, I agree that there really is no herbal remedy that can 'dissolve' kidney stones.

I have practiced herbalism for over 20 years as an unpaid volunteer. It goes against my spirituality and culture to accept payment for helping others with my herbalism.

There are, however, herbal remedies and dietary modifications that can make it faster and less painful to pass kidney stones by reducing inflammation. Good herbs to reduce pain and inflammation from kidney stones include uva ursi, joe pye weed, sugar free cranberries, polygonum persicaria, and some others.

There are also remedies and dietary modifications that can reduce the likelihood of kidney stone formation- especially if the stones are calcium oxalate. Stage_rat Annette has already provided a link to some of that info. :)

Unfortunately since your stones were formed during a time when you drank a lot of soda and also drank insufficient water, odds are high that your stones are calcium phosphate which are much harder to treat than the common calcium oxalate kidney stones.

IMHO your stones are likely to be calcium phosphate because sodas have a lot of excess phosphates in them (in the form of phosphoric acid).

Take a good B-complex vitamin supplement daily, which contains pyridoxine (vitamin B-6). B-6 deficiency produces kidney stones in experimental animals. In high doses, B6 is used medically to treat kidney stones. Remember- B-6 deficiency is very common in humans.

Yogurt and other probiotics are a good idea too, and in addition to that I also really recommend Dr. Berger's Immune Power Diet for you.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 11:35PM
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grovespirit(Zone 9)

I agree with most of starmoon's herbal recommendations for immunity boosting. A lot of nice immune boosters in her list! :)

However, I mostly avoid using goldenseal.

I use Vitamin C, along with a combination of astragalus, schisandra berry or other adaptogens, licorice, and uva ursi, as a replacement for goldenseal.

Turns out, most commercial goldenseal preparations actually contain mostly imitations and adulterants (one of which is uva ursi!) instead of true goldenseal. So- when people buy something labeled goldenseal it will usually be from 30% to 95% uva ursi anyway, LOL!

Goldenseal herb is overused and very expensive due to overharvesting. It's threatened in some states and endangered in others.

Besides, Goldenseal has a mode of action rather similar to antibiotic drugs- it can kill off the body's beneficial organisms in the gut. And if an antibiotic action is actually needed, my experience has been that colloidal silver is more effective than goldenseal and better for endangered plant preservation.

Ginseng is also an overused and costly plant. So, I use schisandra berry, or other adaptogens (ginseng subsitutes) instead of ginseng pretty often to build up someone's immune system. I'll post a link about ginseng substitutes at the end of this.

Schisandra berry has a similar effect on my immune system to ginseng, and is a lot cheaper than ginseng, so I use that on myself often.

starmoon wrote:

For immune system boosting, echinacea, goldenseal, vitamin C, cat's claw, ginseng and garlic are usually my first resort, but the best immune booster I am aware of is actually mushrooms, especially maitake mushrooms. Here is a great description of this mushroom's properties from ttp://www.whatreallyworks.co.uk/start/factsheets.asp?article_ID=112

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 12:07AM
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squirrelspur(6B/7A NC)

I'm not a health professional but I would check with someone who is before drinking 3 gal water/day. There is a danger of overhydration, where the sodium level can get too low and this can result in serious health issues.

I agree with getting enough exercise, if I don't get exercise, I am more likely to get sick.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 7:56AM
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grovespirit(Zone 9)

Squirrelspur has a great point. Please do run the 3 gallons thing by your urologist, and see what he says. :)

It is actually a pretty rare occurrence for people to get overhydration and low sodium levels from drinking 3 gallons of water per day. Very seldom does this happen.

Still, best get a medical opinion tailored to your individual case... In some cases such as folks on low-sodium diets, children or elderly, overhydration and sodium imbalance *can* happen with increased water intake.

My local health professional- a MD at local health clinic- actually told me (and has told most of my co-workers as well) that we need to drink 3 gallons of water per day any time we are ill, especially while fighting infection.

Of course, any beverages or soups consumed during the day do count towards the total.

Ask the urologist *before* following this guideline, because you might have health conditions that my co-workers and I do not have, which might make 3 gal/day too much water for you.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 4:33PM
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I want to second the yogurt recommendation. Antibiotics do a number on your system and the probiotics in the yogurt will help. Look for a brand with low sugar (not the fruit added kind). I would suggest organic if you can find it. If you don't want to eat it straight, there are other ways of adding it to your food/diet.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 7:03PM
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yes, somehow my sodium level got to low and i had to have an iv thing where they put more in me, if they didn't, i woulda been in serious trouble, for some reason i wanted to get my levels checked, an overall level check. that's how they found outl. WEIRD!! LOL
anyhow i was gonna tell ya, apple cider vinegar 1 t aday is really good for you! and it is a disenfectant and antibiotic. you can add it to your juices or whatever. but it does wonders for you!! when i take it like i should, i feel wonderful. when i don't i feel like YUCK!! sluggish, i sneak it in the kid's food, and so far, we haven't had cold for 3 yrs. if i get a scratch or a bite i spray it on, and it heals really quick, the sting goes away quick too. so maybe that might help. i read that if ya can't handle the smell, for people who take 2 t, they use a straw to drink. i just drink it. i use the 2t. hope that helps you any. there's also online. 101 uses for vinegar. apple cider vinegar is for the inside of the body, distilled is for the outside of the body. just incase you didn't know. (its made with petroleum, that's why) ~medo

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 8:02PM
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