The Immune System Overview
Most Popular Immune System Products
Defense Maintenance - strengthens the immune system using antioxidants, herbs, vitamins and minerals - great daily maintenance
VS-C - formula of Chinese herbs designed specifically for viruses, herpes, chronic fatigue
Nature's Immune Stimulator - a blend of well-researched natural ingredients known to support and boost the immune system, fight infections, help heal injuries resulting from infections and control conditions that lay the foundation for disease - contains Beta Glucans, Arabinogalactan, Colostrum, Reishi and Maitake Mushrooms, and Cordyceps.
Herbasaurs Chewable Elderberry Plus for Kids - Daily boost to help immune system fight daily battles - contains Elderberry, Reishi Mushroom, and Astragalus.
Super Antioxidant - contains tocotrienols, alpha-lipoic acid, lycopene, milk thistle (Silybum marianum), turmeric (Curcuma longa), and rosehips.
Garlic-High Potency -1200 mg. of Chinese garlic per tablet, coated with chlorophyll to control odor without altering garlic properties and enteric coated so you don't burp it - blood pressure, cholesterol, infections, colds, yeast
THIM-J - immune builder, energy, antioxidant, free radical scavenger, with mild detox herbs, used to raise T cells, formula contains: Rosehips, Beta Carotene, Broccoli powder, Cabbage powder, Eleuthero, Parsley herb, Red Clover flowers, Wheat Grass powder, Horseradish root
E-Tea - Essiac Tea already brewed and encapsulated, capsules can be opened and brewed as a tea or taken as capsule for those fussy about taste
The world is definitely a most unfriendly place - at least if you look at things from your immune system's point of view.
Every day your body is under siege, attempting to repel a continuous assault by disease and virulent organisms. This is the real invasion of the body snatchers-microbes that, if unchecked, would rob you of your health, and eventually your life.
Most germs are repelled by the skin, rebuffed by the natural pesticides of sweat, saliva and tears, dissolved in the stomach or trapped by mucus of the nose or mouth and later expelled via a cough or sneeze. Unfortunately, these uninvited organisms are persistent and not easily discouraged. Some will breach the body's outer defenses and enter the bloodstream and tissues. Once inside, they multiply at an alarming rate and start destroyIng vital body cells.
Now is the time the immune system rides to the rescue. Inside the body, a trillion highly specialized cells, regulated by dozens of proteins, will launch an unending battle against these alien organisms. It's the cellular version of high-pitched biological warfare. This complex network of specialized cells with a staggering array of potent hormones is called an "enormous edifice" by Nobel laureate Barul Benacerraf, president of Boston's Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
Our Enormous Edifice
Because there are so many kinds of disease eager to challenge your defense network, your immune system has developed a variety of "soldiers," each with its own weapons and method of attack. Some parts of your immune system don't actually engage in battle. Instead, they act like computers, storing information on the enemy and its characteristics, or serving to control other immune cells.
The individual parts of the immune system are powerful, each in its own way. However, no single component of the immune system is a match for the many diseases eager to harm you. Taken as a whole, though, the immune system packs an incredible wallop.
These soldiers' sworn enemies are antigens-viruses, bacteria, cancer cells, fungi, protozoa (microscopic animals) and anything else that challenges the immune system.
The members of the immune system do battle in different ways. Certain immune cells actually consume the antigens. Another method of attack is to cut a hole in the surface of the bacterium's cell. This destroys the bacterium by allowing water, sodium and other substances to leak in and out of the cell, upsetting Its steady state. Poison can be used to kill an antigen. Or, a cover can be slapped over the part of the antigen that does the damage, its "toxic site. "
Some immune cells are born knowing how to locate and destroy antigens. Other parts of the immune system must wait until they receive specific instructions telling them what the antigen looks like.
Maintaining a Healthy System
When our immune systems work well, we barely notice. However, when sickness starts to become the rule rather than the exception, we realize our systems can become worn down when neglected
In fact, what we eat and drink and how we live are key factors in keeping our immune system running at optimum capacity. According to Dr. Joel Elkes, director of Behavioral Medicine at the University of Louisville, "Our mode of life itself, the way we live, is emerging as today's principal cause of illness."
Keeping this in mind, we need to reduce the amount of stress in our lives as much as possible. A study by the American Academy of Science revealed that as much as 80 percent of all illness can be directly tied to stress, because it breaks down the defenses of the immune system and opens the doorway to a host of injurious invaders.
The National Institute on Aging has released a list containing several ways people can reduce stress in their lives and strengthen their immune systems, thereby improving their longevity and chance of staying healthy.
Foremost among its suggestions is eating a balanced diet and maintaining a desirable weight.
"When your diet is deficient nutritionally , your defenses go down, permitting proliferation of virus germs and the risk of illness. You don't even have to be grossly undernourished. A few minor deficiencies can break down the immune system," said R.K. Chandra, M.D., professor of pediatric research at the Memorial University of Newfoundland.
"It's not that certain nutrients affect the immune system, said Thomas Petro, Ph.D., a nutritionist at Purdue University. "It's that every nutrient affects the immune system."
A balanced diet is probably the most important consideration in maintaining a healthy immune system. When the body is deprived of some minerals, it is more likely to retain pollutants.
The immune system maintenance spotlight has recently turned to the functions of vitamins A, C and E in protecting the body's cells from damage caused by natural body processes, lifestyles, environment and chemical pollutants. Scientific research has also revealed zinc and selenium as essential minerals for the immune system.
Skin cells are impervious to many chemicals and are an effective barrier against bacteria. However, without vitamin A, these cells would not be able to perform their protector function. Chemicals and bacteria would then be more able to penetrate the body.
The body needs vitamin C to maintain normal levels of plasma during acute emotional or environmental stress. Plus, a rich source of vitamin C is necessary in the formation of white blood cells, which bear the brunt of the battle against bacteria and viruses.
Vitamin E helps protect red blood cell membranes against oxygen damage. Red blood cells become more fragile when exposed to circulating oxygen in the bloodstream.
Selenium stimulates formation of antibodies that combat bacteria.
Zinc stimulates so-called "killer" cells that search out and destroy virus and bacteria engulfed cells. These killer cells are your body's major line of defense against disease.
Another Reason to Exercise
Another factor that helps maintain immune system strength is regular exercise. A daily walk---or a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise----can help keep you young. For example, exercise burns up hormones like noradrenalin, released during everyday stress. If these hormones accumulate in your body, they can be harmful. Exercise invigorates your circulatory system, improves your iron utilization and boosts your immune system.
Scientific research has also revealed that regular exercise fosters good capillary channels to the muscle tissues, directing blood to parts of the body where it stimulates the immune system, and increases the amount of myoglobin, which transports oxygen from the bloodstream to the cells to strengthen defense systems.
Other keys to a strong immune system are not smoking, staying involved with family and friends, allowing time for rest and relaxation, getting enough sleep, staying active through work, recreation and community activities, avoiding overexposure to sun and cold, and maintaining a positive attitude toward life.
The strongest natural defense against disease is a clean, rested body, chemically balanced with proper foods and active elimination channels.
The Mop-Up Crew
It's convenient to use a military analogy when talking about the immune system---the body's Department of Defense. If we take that analogy one step further, then the lymphatic system is the body's equivalent of soldiers who come in after the battle to mop up and restore some semblance of order.
The lymphatic system cleanses our cells by acting like an internal vacuum cleaner, sucking up unwanted material at the cellular level.
The clear lymph fluid---plasma---is the liquid means used to transport toxic wastes away from the cells and to recycle usable products back into the food chain. The plasma filters out of the bloodstream and accumulates in tiny, thin-walled vessels made up of one-way valves, where it's pumped along-by the contraction of nearby muscles used during the body's activity.
These vessels become clogged with excess proteins or other dead cells when there's a lack of regular exercise. Since muscle contractions of the main pump serve to circulate the plasma, we must exercise if we want to maintain the lymphatic highway of our immune system.
Traveling along this highway are cells that have consumed bacteria, viruses or other foreign material. But infectious intruders can directly invade the lymphatics, too. In any case, before the lymph fluid reenters the bloodstream, it must pass through some lymph nodes, which act as protective filters.
Sometimes the lymph nodes are inadequate, so secondary filters such as the liver and spleen must intercept the invaders and detoxify the blood. The liver also removes foreign material that has penetrated the bloodstream without traversing the lymphatic system.