The Medical Sanctuary Holistic Medical Centre
It has been said that a cold is three days in the coming, three days here and three more going. So who has a spare nine days?
Your immune system is your own natural defence force that protects your body against invasion by harmful bacteria, viruses, toxins and other foreign organisms. You can train and stimulate your defence force to work at its best. The best way to enhance your immune system is to have overall good health. In a nutshell, this means eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep, supplementing where appropriate and being able to unwind from physical and mental stress.
How the immune system works.
When a foreign substance enters your body white blood cells known as macrophages, surround it to determine what kind of invader it is. They then communicate with other white blood cells, known as T-lymphocytes and B- lymphocytes.
T-lymphocytes are produced in the thymus and are also known as killer or helper cells because they directly attack and destroy foreign cells and help to co-ordinate the immune response. B- lymphocytes are manufactured in bone marrow and produce anti-bodies, which are small protein molecules that attach themselves to the surface of the foreign cells to neutralize them or mark them for destruction by the T- lymphocyte cells.
Unlike red blood cells, which only travel through the blood stream, these specialized white blood cells can move on their own and pass through cell walls. This means they can travel rapidly to the site of infection and act against the invading organism, which is important, given that bacteria and viruses multiply at an alarming rate.
When the invading organism is a ‘first time’ encounter, typical symptoms of infection develop while the macrophages learn about it and develop a plan of action. These symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes or a rash.
The immune system has an amazing ability to remember past encounters with foreign invaders. So when macrophages recognize a foreign microbe as a previous encounter, it communicates this to the B- lymphocytes, which quickly provide the antibodies to destroy it. Once your body has produced antibodies to a certain microbe, for example, a specific flu virus strain; that virus cannot make you sick again because your immune system immediately recognizes it and retains the antibodies to destroy it. This is what is known as acquired immunity.
Prevention is better than cure.
Certain supplements and nutrients can ensure that your immune system stays in top working condition. You should consult you doctor or naturopath before embarking on any course of treatment.
Viruses thrive in dehydrated conditions so drink plenty of fluids, especially green tea, herbal teas and water. Olive leaf extract helps as it contains oleuropein, an antioxidant with antimicrobial and antiviral activity. Olive leaf extract can be taken in liquid or supplement form, and is particularly beneficial for relieving coughs and sore throats as well as reducing fever, Echinacea is most effective when taken as soon as cold symptoms appear. Large doses of vitamin C (500mg – 1g per day) won’t cure your cold however they will stimulate your immune system, and reduce the length of time you suffer and the severity of your symptoms.
For sore throats- gargle with olive oil leaf extract. Take zinc or manuka honey lozenges and let them dissolve slowly in the mouth. Cough elixirs containing manuka honey are great for soothing dry and irritated coughs as well as chesty coughs – they won’t cause drowsiness and can also be given to children.
Garlic, onion and ginger can all reduce phlegm. Hot foods such as chilli peppers, onions and garlic contain ‘mucolytics’ which liquefy thick mucus! Garlic and horseradish are well recognised for their ability to reduce the symptoms of excess Phlegm. Reducing dairy product intake is also a must when excess phlegm is present.