Question: "I read about my immune system – what is it and what does it really do?"
Gerald Quigley, Medical Herbalist, Pharmacist & Health Commentator, answers:
“We hear about immunity on game shows, cooking shows and quiz shows. In these situations, immunity bestows protection from competitors or from elimination. In the same way, our immune system offers us protection – it mounts a defensive response against microbes, toxins, chemicals and cancer cells. It’s not a simple system of one organ or gland. Our immune response is initiated by our tonsils, our thymus gland, our lymph nodes, our spleen, and our bone marrow. This is a collective action in facilitating our immune response.
It’s complex system, and can be affected by many unrelated aspects of our lives. Poor sleep quality, high stress levels, unwise food choices, low fitness levels, poor gut health and low exposure to sunshine can play a damaging role.
These factors offer natural resistance to infection, or natural immunity. Acquired immunity can offered by a vaccine which drives antibody production in response to a vaccine.
In simple terms, we can nurture our natural immunity with sensible lifestyle options – the ones we hear about but are often difficult to implement.
Vitamin and mineral supplements can help, but never replace these lifestyle considerations.”
What might you be able to change?
Here are some lifestyle changes that you can incorporate into your daily routine to support your immune system:
- Lymphatic drainage: your lymphatic system (made up of non-muscular vessels all throughout your body) is responsible for carrying away fluid wastes that result from immune reactions & other cellular processes, so they don’t accumulate. If your immune system’s burden is high, from an infection, chronic illness or other factor, your lymphatic system may need extra support in helping move that lymph fluid. Easy ways to stimulate your lymphatics:
- Trampolining, as that physically supports lymph flow (see this article to learn more)
- Dry skin brushing (you can learn how to do that here)
- Lymphatic Drainage Massage
- Stay hydrated! Remember, you body requires water for just about every cellular process & organ system. Your immune system is no exception! Generally, it’s good for adults to aim for 2 litres of filtered water per day although more will be needed based on your unique physical activity.
- You can contact us about our water filtration options (available in-store)
- Daily sunlight is crucial. We’ve spoken a couple of times about the importance of Vitamin D and its importance in immunity (here & here). In addition to having optimal cholesterol levels via your diet, sunlight is needed to stimulate your own Vitamin D production.
- Deep breathing to support your lungs. The respiratory tract (including the mouth, nose, throat & lungs) is an area that’s more prone to infection for many of us, and its also home to many of our immune cells & receptors. If our lungs & respiratory tract are dealing with an immune burden, it can cause a drop to our oxygen intake; another crucial component to a healthy body. To support your lungs & optimal oxygen intake, you may try:
- Mouth taping. It sounds strange, we know! This is a practice used overnight to ensure all breathing occurs via the nose, which allows for optimal oxygen intake to the brain, lungs & other areas of your body. Mouth taping has countless non-immune-related benefits, and you can learn more about this practice here
- Butyeko Breathing
And here are some supplements you can call upon to support your immunity:
- Echinaforce (a fantastic extract of the medicinal herb, Echinacea, which is clinically studied to support your acute immune response & assist with the severity of respiratory infections)
- Vitamin C (call us to see our current in-store options)
- Alternatively, our Rosehip tea is a wonderful natural source of Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
These nutritional supplements are available in-store, and you can ask our friendly naturopaths which product is best suited for your needs.
If you’re currently struggling with your immunity or want to actively strengthen your immune system, why not book in with one of our holistic health practitioners? You can call us to book an appointment on (03) 9576 3077