Immunity

Low immunity; How to increase your immunity?; Immunostimulators

Immunity

The immune system is a complex of organs, cells and substances that help the human body fight the external pathogens that cause the disease. In the case of healthy people, it works naturally, without the need for help. When the body is sick, immunity can be helped from the outside by immunostimulatory remedies.

All about immunostimulants (natural remedies that help your immunity)

The idea of boosting your immunity naturally is tempting, but complicated: it is not an independent, isolated entity, but a system (made up of organs, cells and chemicals) that needs balance to function properly. Specialized researchers do not know everything about the immune response and are still exploring the effect of external factors on it: there is no clear scientific evidence about the link between lifestyle and increased immunity, but it doesn't hurt to do everything you can to make sure you don't put obstacles to your body, living unhealthy.

How can you improve your immunity? Overall, your immune system handles itself in the fight against microorganisms that can cause disease; but sometimes it fails. Like any other system in the human body, the immune system works best when put to work: daily exposure to foreign elements that come in contact with you (by inhalation or swallowing) is a natural way to do this. Colds, insect bites, light scratches – all stimulate immune function and prepare the body for future confrontations with bacteria or even cancer. Another effective way to "take your immunity" to the gym is immunostimulatory products.

We explain more about them below, along with information about how the immune system works, how many types of immunity there are, what immunostimulation is and what are the sources of plant origin to strengthen the immunity of adults.

What is immunity?

Immunity is the ability of an organ to protect itself from aggressors called antigens (infections, viruses, bacteria, parasites, toxins), through specific antibodies. We are all born with a natural immunity which changes throughout life. Immunity "remembers" every microbe it has defeated over time, in order to recognize it in the future and destroy it quickly if it enters the body again.

The immune system consists of organs, cells and substances that actively fight microbes: leukocytes, antibodies (also called immunoglobulins), the complementary system, lymphatic system, spleen, thymus, bone marrow. Abnormalities in the immune system can cause allergic reactions and asthma, immunodeficiencies (present at birth or caused by the complex of HIV factors, chemotherapy, malnutrition and severe burns) and autoimmune diseases (inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis).

Types of immunity

Specific immunity (acquired at birth) is the first line of defense against external pathogens and consists of physical, chemical and cellular defense systems. Its purpose is to immediately prevent the spread and circulation of external aggressors through the body. This immune response is general and immediate, which is also found in all plants and animals.

  • Specific immunity (acquired at birth) is the first line of defense against external pathogens and consists of physical, chemical and cellular defense systems. Its purpose is to immediately prevent the spread and circulation of external aggressors through the body. This immune response is general and immediate, which is also found in all plants and animals.
  • Nonspecific immunity (acquired throughout life) is the second line of defense against antigens and consists of a specific response to each aggressor. It is triggered when the specific immune response is insufficient and occurs by rapid cloning of lymphocytes, which fight the invader, preventing its development. This immune response occurs after a few days or even weeks, but is specific and long-lasting, which is typical to vertebrates.

Why does your immunity decrease?

Your immune system is affected by what you eat and the way you live and the aggressors in the environment attack it every day. It is built to work when needed, functioning normally if it receives the vitamins, minerals and essential fats it needs through food, if the intestinal microbiome does its job and if there are no major problems in any of its components.

What is immunostimulation?

The idea of stimulating your immunity is not the right one. Many products claim that they can help, but the concept does not make sense, from a scientific point of view. The immune system is not designed to be stimulated and if your body's natural response were constantly "pushed from behind", you would feel sick or you would have runny nose, fever, lethargy and depression. Basically, it would begin to affect healthy tissues and cells (as in the case of autoimmune diseases). A concrete example is performance athletes who do blood doping (they increase the number of erythrocytes in their blood, in order to have better results): they risk having strokes.

But immunity can be helped by various lifestyle-related methods: a healthy diet, proper hydration, intermittent fasting, a balanced sleep, quitting smoking and a sedentary lifestyle, stress relief, going to the sauna, sunbathing and the use of natural supplements (adaptogenic plants). And it can be boosted as needed by specific immunostimulators (such as vaccines from strains isolated from viruses / microbes) or nonspecific (such as bone marrow transplants, administration of plant products or substances identical to those in the body - synthetic hormones, cytokines, interferon).

When you need immunostimulators?

Immune stimulation is complicated because this system is made up of so many cell types, which react differently to different antigens, that you can't just target some of them. Your body constantly produces more immune cells than it needs and the excess ones disappear through a natural process of cell death (apoptosis). Immunostimulation is not necessary in case of healthy people with a normally functioning immunity, but only in the case of chronic patients: immunosuppressed patients, people with multiple bronchitis, rheumatism, cancer, diabetes, leukemia, multiple sclerosis. Any immunostimulatory treatment is done under medical supervision - seek the advice of your doctor before attempting to stimulate your immunity!

Types of natural immunostimulators

Since ancient times, people have turned to nature to treat diseases, with minimal side effects. There are thousands of natural components that can influence immunity, by affecting cell function or antibody production, to control infection and maintain homeostasis (internal balance). Non-specific remedies that can help your immunity do not have antigenic specificity, meaning they do not recognize a certain pathogen and do not target it by accurately differentiating it from others. This means that herbal adjuvants that fill the shelves of health food stores or pharmacies cannot guarantee that they will better protect you from certain diseases. What they can do is change some components of immune function (increase the level of antibodies in the blood, for example), due to the phytocomplex of chemical compounds in the composition.

The best known sources of plant origin for strengthening immunity at adults are:

Medicinal plants:

  • chamomile (Matricaria recutita);
  • marigold (Calendula officinalis);
  • plantain (Plantago major).

Bee products:

  • honey;
  • pollen;
  • propolis;
  • royal jelly (mother bee milk);
  • bee pasture / bread.

Common or exotic adaptogens

(plants, fruits, flowers, roots and mushrooms that help the body adapt to internal and external stress):
  • Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticocus), American ginseng (Panax quinquefoius) and Peruvian ginseng (Lepidium meyenii);
  • turmeric (Curcuma longa);
  • ginger (Zingiber officinale);
  • Indian gooseberry / amla (Phyllanthus emblica);
  • ashwagandha (Withania somnifera);
  • astragulus (Astragulus membranaceus);
  • reishi medicinal mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum), cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris), shiitake (Lentinula edodes), chaga (Inonotus obliquus), maitake / cow bellows (Grifola frondosa), turkey tail (Trametes versicolor), lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus);
  • echinacea (Echinacea purpurea);
  • amrita / guduchi / giloya (<Tinospora cordifolia);
  • bacopa / brahmi (Bacopa monnieri);
  • schisandra / wuweizi (Schisandra chinensis);
  • codonopsis / Dang shen (Codonopsis pilosula);
  • troscot chinezesc / Fo-ti / He shou wu (Reynoutria multiflora);
  • jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum);
  • rhodiola / ruja (Rhodiola rosea);
  • shatavari (Asparagus racemosus);
  • holy basil / Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum);
  • licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra);
  • bitter cucumber (Momordica charantia);
  • Aloe vera;
  • goji (Lycium barbarum);
  • pagoda tree / ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba);
  • garlic (Allium sativum);
  • black cumin / nigella (Nigella sativa);
  • rosehips (Rosa canina);
  • avocado (Perseus americana);
  • blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus);
  • pomegranate (Punica granatum);
  • lotus (Nelumbo nucifera).

Precautions related to natural immunostimulators

  • If you want to take herbal supplements for increased immunity, seek the advice of your family doctor and a phytotherapist (who can give you instructions on how to take them in parallel with other medicines and who should supervise your treatment)!
  • They cannot be given to anyone and anyway: for example, astragalus is not at all indicated to pregnant women and children, while ginseng can cause problems for people with high blood pressure.
  • Immunostimulatory natural treatments should not be taken at the same time with polymicrobials or vaccines!
  • Natural therapies to increase immunity are administered only for limited periods of time (7-30 days), it is not recommended to be taken non-stop.

Did you know that…?

  • Manuka honey is a bee product considered a super-food: it has strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and is a natural antibiotic. It is produced exclusively by bees in New Zealand and Australia (countries that dispute their primacy over "true Manuka honey") by pollinating the Manuka bush (Leptospermum scoparium).
  • Aloe vera juice is full of polysaccharides that help the immune system to function properly.
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