Your Immune System - Friend or Foe?

A well-functioning immune system is essential for staying healthy. A poorly functioning immune system is related to a wide range of ailments and complaints. In this blog we’ll discuss how things go wrong and outstanding news about powerful allies in regaining and maintaining good health. The immune system includes the tonsils, spleen, bone marrow, lymph nodes and gut.

The immune system is a killer. First and foremost the role of the immune system is to kill invading pathogens using Th1 cells (T-cells) that circulate around the body. Th2 cells are activated if the Th1 cells are unable to subdue the invader. Once the Th2 cells (which contain cytokines) create antibodies the Th1 cells mobilize to “mop up” afterward. As long as the pathogens stay in the blood stream the immune system is supposed to be able to eliminate them.

Autoimmune Disorders

Viruses, parasites, cancer cells and some living organisms (bacteria) called bio-toxins or antigens, are small enough to enter a cell. (H. pylori, Lyme, Strep, mononucleosis, norovirus and herpes are common examples.) If this occurs the body puts a chemical “marker” on that cell. The body will then deploy lymphocytes and macrophages to surround and destroy that cell in order to eradicate the invader.

Some pathogens are harder to kill than others and if the immune system can’t kill them they are able to reproduce by removing the “marker”, sneaking into the bloodstream to reproduce and then hiding again inside of cells. The body continues to send out Th1 and Th2 cells but without success because the pathogens are illusive. The confused Th2 cells then create antibodies against the body’s healthy tissues, depending on where the pathogens are hiding. The Th1 cells see those antibodies and seek to destroy them, and unfortunately, whatever tissues, gland or organ the antibodies are in. This attack by the T-cells repeats over and over and begins to destroy the tissues affected.

Heavy metals, pesticides, fertilizers and countless other chemicals can be inhaled or ingested. The immune system is not designed to respond to such non-living or inert substances. If the liver is unable to detoxify and eliminate the poisons instead they are shunted to our cells (especially fat cells) for storage. All it takes is an injury or trauma that causes inflammation or swelling for the Th1 cells to come out with guns blazing looking for something to conquer. Since there are no invading bacteria available they find the heavy metals or toxins stored somewhere in the body to subdue instead. This attack can continue for a long time and may appear to be an autoimmune disease, but the body isn’t deliberately attacking itself; it’s attacking what is hidden away inside the fat cells in the joints, glands, skin, wherever.

Women are diagnosed with autoimmune disease twice as often as men—6.4% of women as compared to 2.7% of men. The disease often starts during the childbearing years. The incidence of autoimmune disease is rising, which should be no surprise considering the environmental toxins to which we are exposed. Researchers are investigating the effect of chemicals, high-fat, high-sugar and processed foods, vaccines, antibiotics and antiseptics. A zinc deficiency is a possible trigger in many cases of autoimmune disorders. 25% of people who have one autoimmune disease will develop at least one more.

Common Autoimmune Diseases

There are approximately 80 known autoimmune diseases, with these as the most prevalent:

Crohn’s Disease (entire digestive tract)

Ulcerative colitis (colon)

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis

Graves’ disease

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Type 1 diabetes

Addison’s disease

Sjögren’s syndrome (some cases)

Vasculitis

Lupus (SLE)

Eczema, Lichen Sclerosis, Scleroderma, Myasthenia gravis, MS and Chagas disease are also considered to be autoimmune related.

Diagnosis and Treatments

Autoimmune diseases can be difficult to diagnose since symptoms frequently overlap. Common early symptoms of many autoimmune diseases include: skin rashes, fatigue, trouble concentrating, achy muscles, low-grade fever, swelling and redness, hair loss and numbness, and tingling in the hands and feet.

There are many strong prescription medicines deployed against the symptoms of these diseases but most doctors are unaware of the causes and consider these diseases to be only manageable, not curable. Medications come with their own adverse effects and potential drug, food and herb interactions. Many have a damaging effect on the gut which exacerbates the situation.

Gut dysfunction caused by a poor diet, antibiotic use; poor digestion leading to carbohydrate fermentation and protein putrefaction; overgrowth of bad bacteria, yeast and fungus; lack of dietary fiber; and mental and physical stress can negatively impact the immune system in either direction. Recently, with scientific advances in “next-generation” sequencing technology have researchers been able to learn much more about intestinal microbe communities and discover their role in regulating our immunity.

“Adaptogenic” Herbs and Immuno-Modulators

Ashwaganda, Asian Ginseng, Holy Basil, gelatinized (not raw) Maca, and Rhodiola are herbs known to modulate the immune response and are consider safe and beneficial for people with an autoimmune issue as well as those seeking to strengthen their immunity. There are also effective adaptogenic spices in your kitchen cupboard: Black Pepper, Turmeric, Cumin, Nutmeg, Ginger and Cinnamon.

Here are some immune system stimulants that should be avoided in cases of autoimmune issues: Goldenseal, Olive Leaf, Elderberry and Lemon Balm (if you have autoimmune thyroid problems). By boosting the immune system they may increase progression of the disease. Use the herbs Echinacea, Cat’s Claw and Astragalus with care to see if they help or aggravate the condition (or may appear to aggravate before they help). All of these plant medicines, along with many others, are known to be helpful to those with immune deficiency.

We suggest using caution when adding herbal supplements to your regimen if you have an autoimmune condition.  Ideally, seek out the help of a professional that is knowledgeable about herbal medicine.

Beta Glucan

A powerful immune-modulator that doesn’t cause overstimulation is beta glucan. This natural source of polysaccharides is shown in hundreds of studies to be highly effective for both autoimmune disorders and immunodeficiency problems.  Beta glucan has a beneficial effect on the gut microbiome. It works is as a prebiotic that feeds the microbiome, which in turn creates short-chain fatty acids that support the colon to create healthy immunity.

Another way they work: when ingested, beta glucans are transported to the Peyer’s patches. Peyer’s patches are aggregated lymphoid nodules (found throughout the end of the small intestine nearest the colon) that monitor intestinal bacteria populations and prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the intestine. The beta glucan particles then travel around the body helping create more macrophages to surround and destroy invaders.

Beta glucan is one of the safest and most impressive allies in regaining healthy immune function. Since beta glucans have such precise effects the type used must fit like a key in a lock.  The quality and source of beta glucan varies widely and you’ll benefit most from choosing one made from baker’s yeast extract, such as the 1,3/1,6 version. Always buy from a company you trust.  If you are currently taking immunosuppressant drugs consult your physician before taking beta glucan. Don’t quit your prescribed medications without the guidance of your physician.

The Other Side of the Coin

Signs of a weak immune system may be recurrent infections, infections/wounds that heal slowly, allergies, chronic bronchitis, Meniere’s, frequent colds, yeast infections, pneumonia, cancer, viral hepatitis and AIDS.

Known contributors to immunodeficiency: Lack of sleep and exercise; foods and beverages containing sugar; alcohol; smoking (cannabis too); antibiotic use; protein deficiency; vitamin C and vitamin D deficiencies; malnutrition; diabetes; chemotherapy; radiation and stress can weaken the immune system quickly and long term. Many OTC and prescription medications can also have a deleterious impact on immunity. Iron deficiency anemia is another common cause of an immune system incapable of doing its job. Loneliness and depression may also be a factor.

Support your system by daily supplementation of a high quality multivitamin and mineral complex and a good dose of omega 3 fats. Stay hydrated by drinking adequate pure water and eating high-water foods like watermelon, cucumbers and other juicy fresh produce. Supplement your protein meals with Betaine HCL with pepsin for proper assimilation of protein, zinc and selenium. Supplement with beta glucan and herbs as needed to keep your immunity strong.

Healthy Habits® is here to support you to stay vitally healthy in order to live your happiest and most satisfying life. Thank you for sharing our articles and information with your loved ones. We pride ourselves on being a quality resource for you and your family.

Relevant Healthy Habits® Products:

  • Beta Glucan 1,3/1,6 is a powerful immune-modulator that doesn’t cause overstimulation. This natural source of polysaccharides is shown in hundreds of studies to be highly effective.  Beta glucan has a beneficial effect on the gut microbiome.  Click here now to learn more.
  • Turmeric Plus contains two of the best researched and clinically studied healthy natural inflammation response supporters on the planet! It also delivers an effective adaptogenic effect on the immune system. Our ultra-premium blend of Curcumin C3 Complex® and 5-Loxin® is exactly what you’re looking for if you need a healthy response to pain and inflammation and immune support. Click here now to learn more.
  • Cellfood®, a sulfur-based water additive, is shown to increase glutathione levels while simultaneously reducing oxidative stress. The effect was higher in study participants taking Cellfood® as compared to other antioxidants, such as alpha-lipoic acid. Click here now to learn more about Cellfood®; and here to learn more about the vital role of glutathione for good health.

Click here to read more of our articles.

References:

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0196579

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3337124/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4012169/

https://www.cloverleaffarmblog.com/autoimmune-diseases-herbs-avoid-better-health/2015/02/

https://www.healthline.com/health/autoimmune-disorders#causes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XViFJrZW5FQ

http://www.goldbergclinic.com/blog/2015/4/18/problems-with-prednisone

http://www.fergon.com/iron-deficiency-anemia-and-infection/

http://vitalitymagazine.com/article/my-top-10-immune-boosting-supplements/

www.innerbody.com/anatomy/immune-lymphatic/peyers-patches

Shares