In the world of medicine it is the norm to treat disease. What usually transpires is that a person waits for a disease to appear before taking steps to eradicate it. This is known as allopathic medicine. Allopathic means to intervene or to stop a process before it overwhelms you.
It is less common to practice preventative medicine, though there is a definite trend towards that direction. What is meant by prevention is to prepare and, in fact, enhance one’s own protective systems in order to avoid a spiraling downturn caused by exposure to overwhelming conditions.
There are a number of ways to bolster your defense systems. One simple way is to avoid those things that undermine the immune system. A couple of the more blatant offenders are sugar and cigarettes. What I mean by sugar is large amounts of refined table sugar. This is what is found in the sugar bowl and in cakes, candies, ice cream and sodas. It amounts to too much sugar in too short of time without the normal accompanying vitamins, minerals and enzymes found in food to process it effectively. The body is shocked by the demands to process this refined “naked” sugar and is thereby left weakened.
The second offender, cigarettes, has about 4,000 different chemicals that need to be sorted out and detoxified. This is another extraordinary demand on our bodies.
Stress and sleeplessness are two other taxing conditions on our overall stamina and ability to respond adequately to an infection.
Enhancing the immune system is particularly important when anticipating exposure to infectious agents such as encountered in enclosed spaces with a multitude of people. Common places of this sort are hospitals and gatherings such as movie theaters, churches, airplanes, family get-togethers and the like.
Widely advertised commercial products such as AirBorne and Emergen-C, which contain Vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals with an herb or two, help prepare the immune system. Specific herbs that boost the immune system include the popular Echinacea, for overall enhancement, and Lomatium, Elderberry and St. John’s Wort which are effective in bolstering the immune system against viruses.
Glandulars are freeze dried glands that are touted as having similar effects. Thymus, in particular, is considered a good anti-viral agent. The thymus gland is responsible for producing all the T-cells in our bodies. T-cells play a large role in fighting off viruses.
Other than avoiding harmful things and taking supplements, some physical activities are very good for building one’s immune system. Basic exercise and keeping in relatively good condition is helpful. Hyperthermia, or raising one’s core temperature very high, has seen good results in stimulating a buildup of the immune system.
The bottom line to being prepared to ward off your daily encounters with potentially infectious agents is to support your own inherent immune system by staying active, eating healthy and considering an extra boost once in a while when the exposure is known to be excessive.
Dr. Miles practices Naturopathic Medicine at the Catalina Clinic of Integrative Health along with other Holistic practitioners in Catalina, Arizona.