Can "Boosting" Be Bad for You?

If you have heard that it’s a good idea to boost your immune system, especially during “immune season,” you are not alone

Let’s take a closer look because things may not be what they seem...

Myth 1: Boosting Immunity Can’t Be Bad...Right?  

FALSE: While it’s true that the immune system may need a leg up—for example, during cold and flu season—boosting is a one-dimensional response that can sometimes lead to overstimulation and imbalance.  

By boosting your immunity, you may unintentionally cultivate an immune system that is hyper-alert and can no longer differentiate between toxins, abnormal cells, or its own host.

On the other hand, boosting an exhausted immune system may only increase its fatigue—much like relying on caffeinated energy jolts that ultimately perpetuate your drowsiness—making you more vulnerable to threats. Instead of protecting you during wintertime’s runny-nose season, an exhausted immune system may settle in for a long winter’s nap instead. 

And, by focusing on seasonal boosting, we overlook the fact that the immune system never gets a day to put up its feet, as it constantly surveils for threats and works to restore harmony.  

A properly functioning immune system isn’t “boosted,” it's balanced.  


The Wiser Way: Balance Not Boost 

Your immune system deals with much more than seasonal sniffles. It is like an air traffic controller at an international airport, directing simultaneous, complex flight patterns to ensure a long, healthy life, as it works for you every second, all year round, all the days of your life. 

A well-functioning immune system addresses these challenges and quickly return to homeostasis—balance—instead of being overly active. While an activated immune response is important when you’re facing an immune challenge, constantly boosting your immune system isn’t necessary or efficient. 

With this in mind, how can you support a “wise” immune system, one that is strong, balanced, steady, and calm, one that cleverly conducts surveillance and pounces on threats without mistaking friend for foe? 

Aside from the usual suspects like plenty of sleep and a balanced diet, nature offers us certain herbs and mushrooms with clinically proven effects in supporting a wiser immune system.


Myth 2: The Immune System Only Needs Support During Immune Season (Or When You’ve Got The Sniffles) 

FALSE: The immune system is active every day, all the time, all year round.  

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about your immune system until your throat gets sore or your nose gets sniffly. Scratchy throats and sneezy noses are ways your immune system lets you know it’s being challenged—but this is just one small part of the immune story.  

As a matter of fact, your immune system is confronted every single day by environmental and lifestyle factors like car exhaust [1], indulging in a morning doughnut [2], backyard pollen, kitchen mold, just to name a few.

Not getting enough sleep? Your immune system will feel it, even if you don’t [3]. Emotional stress? This too can affect the number and migration of your immune cells. Your gut microbiome—one of the key players in immunity—can shift on the daily from things like medications, stress, and food intolerances. If these factors disrupt the immune system, downstream effects can disturb your quality of life and how you feel on a daily basis.  

On top of all that, your immune system stands guard 24/7 against a steady stream of unseen internal threats, such as the proliferation of renegade cells[4].  

As you can see, your immune system never rests (but it can get tired, even exhausted). 

With so many ways the immune system silently serves us, not to mention the uncertainty of global events from climate change to novel immune threats, a deeper and broader view of immunity is urgently needed.  

Aside from the usual suspects like plenty of sleep and a balanced diet, nature offers us certain herbs and mushrooms with proven expertise in supporting a wiser immune system. In Part 2 of this article we discuss some of our clinically proven favorites! 



[1] Glencross, D. A., Ho, T. R., Camiña, N., Hawrylowicz, C. M., & Pfeffer, P. E. (2020). Air pollution and its effects on the immune system. Free radical biology & medicine, 151, 56–68.

[2] Shomali, N., Mahmoudi, J., Mahmoodpoor, A., Zamiri, R. E., Akbari, M., Xu, H., & Shotorbani, S. S. (2021). Harmful effects of high amounts of glucose on the immune system: An updated review. Biotechnology and applied biochemistry, 68(2), 404–410.

[3] Lorton, D., Lubahn, C. L., Estus, C., Millar, B. A., Carter, J. L., Wood, C. A., & Bellinger, D. L. (2006). Bidirectional communication between the brain and the immune system: implications for physiological sleep and disorders with disrupted sleep. Neuroimmunomodulation, 13(5-6), 357–374.

[4] Gonzalez, H., Hagerling, C., & Werb, Z. (2018). Roles of the immune system in cancer: from tumor initiation to metastatic progression. Genes & development, 32(19-20), 1267–1284.

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