Immune System Health
One way to start using herbal medicine is to better understand the action of the herb. Another is to better understand the physiology of the condition you wish to treat and then finding and implementing herbs to support the bodies’ natural defenses.
Globally today the human community is facing the pandemic crisis Covid-19 virus. David Da-i Ho is a Taiwanese-American AIDS researcher, physician, and virologist who has made a number of scientific contributions to the understanding and treatment
of HIV infection. Dr. David Da-I Ho recommended treating the Corona virus with prevention by boosting or strengthening the immune system. The immune system is comprised of cells and proteins. Learning how the immune system works will give insight on what systems need to be protected, strengthened and tonified in order to better fight viral infections.
The immune system is made up of cells that respond to the presence of viruses and pathogens. The name of these cells are B-cells and T-cells. B-cells attack pathogens, fight bacteria and viruses by making antibodies which are specific to each pathogen. B-cells are produced in the bone marrow, the precursors of T-cells are also produced in the bone marrow but leave the bone marrow to mature in the Thymus gland. The difference between the B- cells and the T-cells is that T-cells can only recognize viral antigens outside the infected cells, whereas B-cells can recognize the surface antigens of bacteria and viruses. B-cells make valuable molecules called antibodies. Antibodies trap specific viruses and bacteria.
B-cells are activated by the binding of antigen receptors on its cell surface which cause the cell to divide and proliferate. Activated B-cells multiply and form clones of plasma cells and memory cells. Plasma cells secrete antibodies while Memory cells can be stored and fight later versions of viruses/pathogens.
T-cells that mature in the thymus gland govern cell mediated immunity not controlled at antibodies. T-cells are rapidly mobilizing White Blood Cells. White Blood Cells are also key to fighting infection by destroying invading organisms. White Blood cells release histamine in response to allergens.
The Thymus gland produces two types of T-cells, both T-4and T-8 cells.
T-4 cells are helper cells which turn on the immune system when it is challenged, Interferon is released in response to the presence of several viruses, causing nearby cells to heighten their anti-viral defenses.
Interferons are a family of naturally-occurring proteins that are made and secreted by cells of the immune system (for example, white blood cells, natural killer cells, fibroblasts, and epithelial cells).
T-8 cells turn off the immune system.
Examples of conditions where T-4 cells are deficient are Cancer, Chronic Colds, and Epstein Barr Virus.
Healthy ways to strengthen your immune system
Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
Maintain a healthy weight.
If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
Get adequate sleep.
Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
Exercise (walking, biking, yoga, 30 minutes 3 times a week) boosts immune system.
From learning how the immune system functions, direction can be taken on where to begin. By supporting bone marrow and thymus gland health, immune system health and function can be maintained.
Vitamin C is not manufactured in the human body making it 1in 4 species that does not produce its own Vitamin C. Stores of vitamin C are easily diminished through stress and sweating.Both C vitamins and B vitamins are water soluble and need to be added to the body from food sources or supplementation.
Foods that are best for increasing bone marrow and bone marrow health are foods rich in vitamin C. Including Bell Peppers, Oranges, Berries, and Lemon Juice.
Amla Fruit, is an herb/fruit used in Ayurvedic medicine originating in India. Amla has 50% more vitamin C than rosehips, and more vitamin C than any other herb. (S) Other premier sources of vitamin C include Rosehips, Chili Peppers, Thyme, Kiwis, Lemons, Oranges.
B-9, known as Folate, “helps with the formation of Red and White blood cells produced in the bone marrow”.
Vegetarian food sources of Folate include, asparagus. Beef, fish, dairy and grain cereals are also good sources of Folate.
Foods that are beneficial for the Thymus gland also include foods that are high in vitamin C. Vitamin C rich foods including dark green leafy vegetables, citrus and berries. Recommended 5 a day. These foods may insure proper maturation of T-4 and T-8 cells in the Thymus glands.
Immune stimulant herbs include; Astragalus, Echinacea, Schisandra, Thyme, Osha, Siberian Ginseng.
Short term use; Echinacea and Thyme, max 2 weeks on.
Immune strengthener herbs include; Astragalus, Echinacea, Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng). Note: Vitamin C is stored in the adrenals. Siberian Ginseng helps store vitamin C in the adrenals making it great for endurance.
Immune tonic herbs include: Astragalus which helps regulate T-4 & T-8 cells.
Thymus gland stimulant: Eucalyptus, Osha, Thyme.
Astragalus; is an immune stimulant that can be taken long term. According to herbalists Astragalus B-cells while B-cell production. Astragalus also the T-4 and T-8 cells, improves of the Thymus gland while slowing down age related atrophy of the Thymus gland. Astragalus also strengthens of bone marrow in producing White Blood Cells. Astragalus increases production of Interferon “A naturally occurring substance that interferes with the ability of viruses to reproduce. Interferon also boosts the immune system.”
Astragalus can be considered a premier herb for the immune system based on its ability to strengthen the many functions of the immune system. Astragalus is contraindicated when a fever is present.
Echinacea Purpurea; is used to kick start, stimulate and strengthen the immune system.
Echinacea is traditionally taken with the anti-bacterial herb Golden Seal for maximum benefit at first symptoms of cold or flu. Because Goldenseal is on the endangered plant list Oregon Grape Root is recommended.Echinacea should only be used short term, not more than 2 weeks.
Thyme; is an immune stimulant. T-4 cells, the helper cells that turn on the immune system when it is challenged. Thyme can be taken as a spice, tincture, or tea 1x a day for 1 week.
Osha Root; opens middle and upper parts of the lungs. Strengthens lungs and is recommended for Asthma and Pneumonia.
Sources: Medicinenet.com, Schecter, S. ND, Tiera, M. OMD, Professor David Ho