April 30, 2013
The House of Healing

Shaping Your Immune System
Your immune system has an amazing ability to protect your body from external invaders, being the primary defence against potentially harmful substances and microorganisms in our environment.  The immune system is  complex not just a single entity.  It is a network of cells, tissues and organs all working together to defend the body against tiny invaders.  Its multifaceted network of cells war against foreign invaders, mediate the healing of damaged tissue and prevent overgrowth of abnormal cells.  This system has many facets, so to function well this complex system requires balance and harmony.  
Prepare for Winter – Strengthen the Immune System
Often patients come to us in the chronic phase of an illness, when they have already had time off work, had antibiotics and their cold and flu symptoms have weakened them.  It is far better to see us in the acute stage when symptoms first start.  We can provide rapid relief for their condition, however boosting immunity and addressing nutritional deficiencies before the cold and flu season kicks in can dramatically reduce the risk of illness, recurring infections and ensure your health is not comprised in the long term. 
Deficiencies of key nutrients can leave us wide open to foreign invaders.  Nutrients such as Zinc and Vitamin C are vital for proper immune function.  Zinc is one of the most essential minerals of the immune system.  A deficiency in Zinc can cause a dramatic impairment of the body’s ability to properly respond to microbial infections.  Zinc is the key to proper T cell and natural killer cell function as well as lymphocyte activity.  It also functions in a number of enzyme systems.  A deficiency of Zinc can cause a dramatic reduction in the number of white blood cells an integral part of the immune system.  This collection of blood cells work together to destroy invading bacteria and viruses.  An imbalance in this system may cause a shift from T-helper 1 to T-helper 2 which may adversely influence the course of infections.  Zinc is a common deficiency in the diet due to the low amounts of this mineral in our Australia soil.   Zinc can be found in shellfish, oysters, meats, whole grains, nuts and seeds particularly pumpkin and squash seeds being good sources. 
Vitamin C is found in high concentration in immune cells.  Research shows that supplementation of Vitamin C is found to improve components of the human immune system including natural killer cell activities and lymphocyte reproduction.  It has also been found to increase levels of interferon, the antibody that coats the cells surfaces, preventing entry of microorganisms.  It may act as an antioxidant against oxidative stress in the inflammatory response.  Fruits and vegetable are good sources of Vitamin C, provided they a grown in optimal conditions.  These include oranges, papaya, kiwi fruit, garlic, dark leafy greens including kale and mustard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and red and green peppers. 
Boost your own immune system…
An effective strategy includes addressing any factors that might compromise the immune system and ensuring you are maintaining an optimal level of health by following simple dietary and lifestyle tips for building a healthy immune system.  To prepare yourself for a winter free of illness you might want to look at the following:
·        Eat a healthy balanced diet – a deficient nutritional status can ultimately impair immune function and poor dietary choices can contribute to inflammation
·        Reduce the intake of mucous forming foods – this includes dairy and processed foods
·        Heal the gut – the largest immune organ of our body is the gastrointestinal tract.  Not only does it digest food and absorb nutrients but it contains a vast number of immune cells and plays a key role in the balance of Th1 and Th2 activity. 
·        Practise stress management – chronic stress can affect the body’s susceptibility to infections and increase the risk of allergic diseases
·        Get enough sleep – loss of sleep can increase inflammatory mediators.  Many studies suggest sleep deprivation can decrease our T-cell production while inflammatory cytokines increase.
·        Exercise regularly
·        Stay hydrated
What to Do for a Cold or Flu…
What some people might not realise is that the common cold and flu are caused by viruses; the most common being a rhinovirus.  Many people opt for antibiotics to manage the flu not realising that antibiotics target only bacteria and are not able to kill the viruses responsible for their symptoms.  Thankfully there are other options.  These herbs have been shown to improve immune function and reduce symptoms of the cold and flu:

·        Andrographis paniculata is an Ayurvedic herb which has a long history of use for bacterial and viral infections.  Clinical studies have shown it can reduce the severity and duration of the symptoms of colds and flu.  It also has anti-inflammatory properties.
·        Picrorrhiza kurroa has been used traditionally in Indian and Chinese Medicine to help maintain a normal healthy immune system and also shows anti-inflammatory properties.
·        Sambucus nigra – Elderberry has traditionally been used for its anti-catarrhal and fever-reducing actions.  It is used specifically for catarrhal inflammation of the upper respiratory tract, sinusitis and recurrent or acute coughs.  
There are other herbs that have a significant influence on immunity such as Echinacea, Siberian Ginseng, Garlic, Shitake Mushroom and Propolis.  Garlic is a favourite choice, being antimicrobial against a variety of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.  Raw Garlic is best as the key ingredients won’t survive cooking.  It is therefore advisable to add minced garlic to meals just before serving. 
The quality of supplements will vary significantly between suppliers.  A bargain cheap brand at the supermarket is not an option as it may have come from a polluted source and be full of fillers.  Buyer beware.
And if you wake in the morning feeling dreadful we are happy to give you a 5 minute Vega and provide a formula to have you back on your feet in no time at all.
Cost –  Existing patients of  Deborah or Jess – no charge
New patient $30
Appointments essential.
Product of the Month
Eagle – Cat’s Claw-Echine – normally $34.80 – $27.80
Containing immune stimulating herbs – Golden Seal, Cat’s Claw, Astragalus, Echinacea and Olive; this product will boost your immune system ready for the onslaught of winter.

1 Comment. Leave new

Delores Lewis
June 21, 2013 2:02 pm

Vitamins are nature’s gift to mankind; they help maintain a healthy body and mind. It’s essential that we get adequate amounts every day to ensure that we are protected from various toxins present in our environment. That’s why I use Metagenics supplements that contain many of these healthy vitamins to keep my body at full operational capacity!


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