immune defenses

October Newsletter- Recharge Immune Power

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Recharge Your Immune StrengthYour immune system is your bodyguard. It works both pro-actively and protectively to shield you from anything that threatens your body.  Your immune system is vigilant, constantly searching for proteins, called antigens, that don’t belong in your body. It can deal with a wide range of pathogens - viruses, funguses, bacteria and parasites. It can even recognize potential antigens, like drugs, pollens, insect venoms and chemicals in foods; and malignant cells and foreign tissue, like transplanted organs or transfused blood.

Each one of us is different and the character of immune response varies widely. Most Americans today don’t have good immune response to fight off illness. So we’re already pre-disposed to a life of frequent colds and flu when bad weather rolls in.

Is Your Immunity Low?

Your immune system is low if you get chronic, continuing infections, colds, and respiratory allergies.

Why Do You Have Low Immune Response?

In today’s world, it’s usually because of poor diet and nutrition. Other big factors: prolonged use of antibiotics, steroid drugs or recreational drugs, (long-term use can depress immunity to the point where even minor illness can become life-threatening); staph infections; Candida yeast infections; environmental and heavy metal pollutants all figure in.

Stress is a big culprit that lowers immune response because it affects the production of interferon, your body’s natural antiviral agent. People who are under continuous stress from work or their personal lives are 2 and a half times more likely to get a cold or flu infection than other people. You may think you’re protected if you’ve had a flu shot, but think again. Flu shots are only effective for specific flu viruses…… you may be exposed to a different one, or even a brand new one (flu viruses mutate rapidly). That means your shot won’t be effective. In any case, follow-up studies show flu shots are only effective for 24% of the population.

Do you have chronic colds?

The common cold is quite common… Americans catch about 66 million colds a year, costing the U.S. economy a whopping $40 billion a year!

In any two week period during high risk seasons, almost one-third of the U.S. suffers from a cold. A cold is usually your body’s attempt to cleanse itself of wastes, toxins and bacterial overgrowth that build up to a point where natural immunity can’t overcome them. The glands are always affected, and as the endocrine system is on a 6 day cycle, a normal cold usually runs for about a week as your body works through all of its detoxification processes.

Over 200 different viruses cause colds. Although we hear most often about rhino-viruses and their involvement in the misery we know as a cold, we are constantly exposed to cold-causing organisms without them actually causing a cold. Your immune system health is the deciding factor in whether you “catch” a cold or not. The medical world is well aware of this, so today there seem to be almost as many drugstore cold remedies, as there are colds… most of them symptom-suppressing with side effects. A cold is usually a cleansing condition, so it may be better to just let it happen, let your body start fresh, with a stronger immune system.

Work with your body, not against it, to get over a cold. Natural remedies are effective in speeding recovery and reducing discomfort. In my experience, most drug store cold remedies halt the body cleansing/balancing processes, and generally make the cold last longer.

Healing Tips For Chronic Colds

For better cold prevention: simply washing your hands with soap seven times each day cuts risk for colds and flu by 75%!  Further, exercising 5 times a week can cut incidences of colds 43%!

For long lasting or chronic colds: A tried and true method used for over 2 decades… For 3 days: Drink 3 cups of Cleansing and Purifying Tea to release congestion. Take 6-10 capsules daily of Herbal Laxa Caps to eliminate excess mucous that keeps harboring the infection.

Lymphatic System Health Is The Foundation Of Good Immune Response

The lymphatic system, including lymphatic vessels and nodes, the thymus gland, tonsils and spleen, acts as your body’s secondary circulatory system. It’s a network of tubing, millions of tiny vessels, ducts and valves that flush and filter waste products from cells and tissues, and carry them to the elimination organs. The lymph nodes are also the factory for crucial white blood cells (lymphocytes) that produce the powerful antibodies which form the overall defense of your body against infections. A major player in your health, the lymph system is a key to your body’s immune defenses because it can render harmful bacteria harmless.

As lymph flows around your body, large, eater cells called macrophages in the lymph nodes engulf foreign particles like harmful bacteria and cellular debris. Swollen lymph nodes (often really infected lymph nodes) are caused by an overload of pathogens the lymphatic system cannot keep under control. The lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump, like the heart.

The valves of the lymph system can keep lymph fluid moving along, but they depend on your breathing and muscle movement to drive them.  It’s one of the reasons I recommend exercise and deep breathing as an important part of any immune enhancing program. Exercise improves lymphatic circulation so it can remove waste materials that block immune response.

Further, the health of your lymphatic system depends to a large extent on the health of your liver. The liver produces most of the body’s lymph fluid, which is rich in lymphocytes, special white blood cells which form overall body defenses. A sluggish liver invariably means a congested lymph system. Lymph is also a major route for nutrients from the liver and intestines, so it’s rich in fat soluble nutrients, like protein, produced in the liver.

Here are a few tips for boosting lymphatic dranage and liver health:

Optimize liver health: Herbal bitters like turmeric, cardamom and lemon peel regenerate both liver and lymphatic system. Try • Liver Cleanse Flushing Tea; or • Bitters & Lemon extract. Cleanse your lymphatic system for optimum defense: • Echinacea is one of the best herbal lymph cleansers I know. • Red root and Astragalus, powerful lymph cleansers, are synergistic with echinacea.

Exercise boosts Immunity

A stronger immune system may be one benefit of daily exercise Exercise can help the body’s immune system defend against simple bacterial and viral infections. Research has shown that during moderate exercise, several positive responses occur in the immune system. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) notes that although these positive changes return to pre-exercise levels very quickly, the body’s immune system builds on them over time.  This process appears to reduce the risk of infection over the long term.

The results of two studies with young and elderly women cited by ACSM seem to support this research. In both studies, women in the exercise groups walked briskly 35-45 minutes, five days a week, for 12-15 weeks; the control groups remained physically inactive. Results of the studies show the walkers experienced about half the days with cold symptoms as the sedentary controls.

While it’s not known exactly how moderate exercise helps the immune system defend against certain illnesses, Medline Plus presents several theories: Physical activity flushes bacteria out from the lungs and may flush out cancer-causing cells through an increased output of urine and sweat. Exercise speeds the travel rate of antibodies and white blood cells through the body. As these antibodies or white blood cells circulate more rapidly, they may detect illnesses earlier. The temporary rise in body temperature may prevent bacterial growth, allowing the body to fight the infection more effectively. Exercise slows down the release of stress-related hormones. Regardless of how exercise helps the body’s defenses, it’s clear that frequent physical activity plays an important role in a healthy lifestyle and a strong immune system.

Sources: Medline Plus; Exercise and immunity American College of Sports Medicine; Exercise the Common Cold;  David C. Nieman, Dr.P.H., FACSM (Chair); Tom Weidner, Ph.D.; Elliott Dick, Ph.D.

Do you have chronic colds?

We are constantly exposed to cold-causing organisms without them actually causing a cold. Your immune system health is the deciding factor in whether you “catch” a cold or not. Over 200 different viruses cause colds. Drugstore remedies only suppress symptoms and have side effects like dizziness or fatigue. A cold is really a cleansing condition, so it may be better to just let it happen, and let your body start fresh, with a stronger immune system. Still, it’s hard to work, sleep, and be around other people with cold symptoms. Natural therapies are effective for relieving cold misery while your body gets on with its job of cleaning house.

Twelve steps to better cold care:

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  1. A daily walk revs up immune response and gives you some fresh air. A walk puts cleansing oxygen into your lungs, and stops you from feeling sorry for yourself.

  2. Take vitamin C or Ester C, 1000mg every hour, preferably in powder form with juice, throughout the day, at first signs of a cold. Take zinc lozenges as needed to ease a sore throat.

  3. Avoid sugary foods, fried foods, and dairy foods. They all increase production of mucous.

  4. Eat lightly but with good nutrition. A vegetarian diet is best at this time, so the body won’t have to work so hard at digestion.

  5. Drink plenty of liquids. 6-8 glasses of fresh fruit and vegetable juices, herb teas and water daily will help flush toxins out of your system.

  6. Keep warm. Don’t worry about a fever unless it is prolonged or high.

  7. Take a long hot bath, spa or sauna. Toxins will pass out though the skin.

  8. Stay relaxed. Go to bed early, and get plenty of sleep. Most cell regeneration occurs between midnight and 4 a.m.

  9. Use xylitol nasal wash every day to help keep any bacteria, which enters your breathing passages from multiplying.

  10. Think positively about becoming well. Optimism can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  11. Wash hands and clean counter tops frequently to prevent virus spread.

  12. Light exercise is better than vigorous exercise during a cold.

  13. Try herbal Immune Support with echinacea, goldenseal and myrrh to naturally support and balance the immune system.

To Lifelong health,

Linda Page, Ph.D., Traditional Naturopath