The immune system is a complicated system of cells and organs that work together to protect the body from foreign invaders like parasites, viruses and bacteria.
The superstar of the immune system is the white blood cell. There are two main types of white blood cells called lymphocytes and phagocytes. The lymphocytes are the protectors of the body that circulate and monitor for infections. Lymphocytes will attack any invaders that they view as harmful. The phagocytes are the cleaning crew cells that are mobilized by the body to chew up and destroy the infectious agent. The white blood cells also activate a group of proteins called complement proteins to help assist the body in fighting infection. These complement proteins are responsible for the fevers and body aches that we experience when we have an infection.
This orchestrated attack and protection by our immune system is responsible for much of our good health and vitality. When the immune system is not functioning properly we can have more frequent or severe infections. Sometimes an under functioning immune system is unable to completely clear an infection and leads to a chronic infection in the body. There are many associated signs and symptoms that your immune system is not functioning optimally.
Signs of a low-functioning immune system:
- Frequent colds and flus
- Chronic recurring infections (including sinus infections, vaginal or prostate infections, dental infections, ear infections and frequent food poisoning)
- Chronic fatigue
- Body aches and recurring fever
- Loss of appetite and nausea
Clearly an immune system that is not protecting our body from infection can lead to many health problems. At the same time an immune system in overdrive can start attacking things it shouldn’t like foods and healthy tissues. An over active immune system can also cause a variety of different health conditions.
Signs of an overactive immune system:
- Autoimmune disease (including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogren’s and Lupus)
- Environmental allergies and hay fever
- Food allergies and sensitivities
- Eczema and other skin rashes (including hives and atopic dermatitis)
At NaturoMedica, we take a comprehensive and integrated approach when evaluating the immune system. The support of a healthy immune system requires good nutrition, management of stress, and identifying the offending triggers that may alter its function. Since almost 70% of our immune system is housed in the lining of our digestive tract, supporting a healthy digestive system is an important part of our integrative treatment plan. In addition, we offer specialized testing to identify allergies and sensitivities to environmental pollens, molds, foods, chemicals and food dyes. Treatment recommendations include supplementation of nutritional deficiencies, elimination of offending agents and other naturopathic therapies to help restore immune function. Sometimes prescription medications are used to help decrease inflammation, treat infection or manage a more complicated health condition. We can offer comprehensive evaluations and treatment recommendations or we can work alongside a variety of specialists such as Rheumatologist, Allergist, EENT or Endocrinologist. The immune system is an integral part of our health and wellness. By using the Naturopathic principles of treating the underlying cause of illness and restoring function, we look forward to helping you optimize your health.