Enhancing Your Immune System
The immune system is one of the most complex systems in the human body. It is used to defend the body against foreign invaders, like bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. If the system fails to block the invaders, then it’s their job to search out and destroy pathogens.
The immune system is a collaboration between cells and proteins that are dispersed throughout the body to provide rapid response to infection. The cells travel through the blood stream or in lymphatics. Lymph nodes and the spleen facilitate cell-to-cell communication. All cells of the immune system begin their development in the bone marrow from a hematopoietic (blood forming) stem cell. There are two categories of immune response are the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system. Innate response cells are those that rely on cells that require no additional training to do their jobs. They are the first line of defenders and respond to infection rapidly and reliably.
Adaptive immune responses are those that rely on cells that do require additional training. They need to learn how to recognize pathogens and distinguish them from healthy cells. The first responders trigger an alert to the adaptive cells, which can take several days to fully activate.
When the immune system is functioning smoothly, we don’t notice it. When the system is compromised, we face illness. To run smoothly, the immune cells must be able to differentiate between self and non-self cells, organisms and substances. Non-self substances are called antigens, which include proteins on the surfaces of bacteria, fungi and viruses. When the first responders recognize an antigen, the immune system recalls stored memories in order to quickly defend itself against known pathogens. Our own cells also have surface proteins, it’s important that the immune system does not work against them.
Immune System Boosters
Dr. Axe recommends 10 immune system boosters, which include herbs, supplements and essential oils. They include echinacea, elderberry, colloidal silver, probiotics, astragalus root, ginger, ginseng, Vitamin D, myrrh and oregano. These items need to be used with some caution. They help prevent and fight infections due to their antimicrobial and immune-boosting properties.
In addition to these system boosters, get plenty of exercise, eat healthy foods, get plenty of sleep, no alcohol, and no smoking. Avoid high sugar junk foods and drinks, eliminate processed foods with preservatives, artificial sweeteners or MSG. Lastly pray. Anxiety is a form of stress that weakens the immune system and prayer is a proven way to relieve anxiety and stress.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, infectious diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide. Pandemics don’t care what season it is, they just show up. Determine who in your family or community are at the greatest risk of death. These are the people to emphasize in your preparations because they may not be able to help themselves. This includes the economically disadvantaged, those without a social network, dependent individuals needing support for daily activities and those who have trouble reading, speaking or understanding English.
Most experts agree that the medical community as we know it will cease to exist during a pandemic. It is critical that we learn how to care for family and friends ourselves.
3. W. L. Liebsch, Janet Liebsch, It’s a Disaster! … and what are you gonna’ do about it? (Texas: Fedhealth, 2011), 196.
4. Nicolaysen, Carolyn, Meridian Magazine, 090501, “Caring for Family During a Pandemic – Part 1”
5. Nicolaysen, Carolyn, Meridian Magazine, 081029, “Caring for Family During a Pandemic – Part 2”