Immune Boosters! ~ Michelle Tonkin ND
Your immune system is important to maintaining and keeping you healthy day in and day out, but how does it work? What Can you do to help keep it functioning in tip-top shape?
Today we are going to discuss Immune Boosters and the basics of the Immune system, how it functions etc. As someone who has undergone my own immune health issues with Lyme Disease, as well as different viral and bacterial infections, I recognize the vital importance of our immune system and the role it plays in our health and wellbeing.
So, the first? is…. What is immunity?
Well according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary: “a condition of being able to resist a particular disease especially through preventing the development of a pathogenic microorganism or by counteracting the effects of its products.”
So basically, your immune system is designed to resist and prevent. Think of the resist part as a shield and the prevent part like a sword. The immune system, therefore, helps to shield the body from the attacks of micro-organisms and other pathogens and also fights against harmful invaders that would try to harm the body. In essence, the immune system’s job is to keep the body in a state of homeostasis or balance. The body is always trying to strive for balance and health, and as long as we give it the proper tools to do so, it will maintain an optimal level.
So, how does the immune system work?
Well, the immune system has two responses to invaders and that is primary and secondary. The primary response occurs when we are exposed to an antigen or invader that the body has not encountered previously. Because it is new to the immune system, the immune system must understand how to attack it, and therefore the primary response is usually a weaker immune response and takes longer for the body to react to it. In the secondary response, the immune system has had previous or other encounters with the antigen or similar antigens and so the response from the immune system is much quicker. Instead of it taking a week for antibodies to develop they can develop within a few days. This happens due to the antigen-specific B and T cells that were produced during the original onset of exposure. The body has a memory from the past. The infection is also typically eliminated more quickly and the antibodies in the body remain longer in the body to ensure that the infection is gone.
The primary responsibility of the immune system is produced in the Thymus and Bone Marrow. The basic purpose of the Thymus gland is to produce and teach the T-cells, like we mentioned before it teaches them what to after or fight in the body. It secretes a hormone thymosin that is necessary to produce and develop T lymphocytes. The Thymus gland reaches its full maturity in young children and starts to slowly shrink in size after puberty until it is replaced by fat. It is most active in young children. The Thymus gland is located between the lungs and beneath the sternum.
By the time we reach puberty the thymus gland has produced all the necessary T-cells that our bodies need to fight infection.
The bone marrow is the soft spongy tissue found inside the long bones of the body. The bone marrow produces different types of blood cells- T- Cells, B-Cells, and NK killer cells. All of which we will discuss in more detail later. They also produce myelocytes. The bone marrow is also critical for helping maintain our body’s stem cells and regulating differentiation between the cells. In fact, most of our bone marrow is made up of stem cells. A stem cell according to Wikipedia are “Stem cells are cells that can differentiate into other types of cells and can also divide in self-renewal to produce more of the same type of stem cells.”
The organs involved in our immune’s systems secondary response are:
Spleen, lymph nodes, adenoid and the Peyer’s Patches. The spleen is located in the upper left side of the abdomen and has three basic jobs- filtering our blood supply, getting rid of the old red blood cells, and helping to capture antigens in our blood. Lymph Nodes: There are about 500-700 lymph nodes in the body, and they have many locations in the body, some are found under the arm pits, groin area, head and neck and even the abdomen. They are small and bean shaped and are found in groups in the body. Besides filtering lymphatic fluid, they also fight pathogens, trap debris and can even battle cancer cells while it is filtering. Each area of lymph, filters, drains, and distributes the lymphatic fluid found in the body.
The Adenoids are also made up of lymphoid tissue like lymph nodes. They are located behind the nasal cavity and are made up of a mass of soft tissue. Adenoids are present at birth and start to shrink in childhood. By the time most people reach adulthood, the adenoids disappear. The adenoids help a child’s less developed immune system by filtering out bacteria and toxins that enter through the mouth. And as we all know, children like to put a lot of different things in their mouths! LOL. So, its quite a blessing that they have this organ. Unfortunately like the tonsils, this organ can become infected and sometimes will have to be removed in order to help alleviate ear infections, constant sore throats, enlarged glands in the neck, as the adenoids themselves can becomes infected and enlarged.
The last organ involved in the secondary response are the Peyer’s Patches.
The Peyer’s Patches are located in our gut, in the small intestine. They actually cover the lining of the small intestine and are groups of lymphatic tissue that help the body to identify antigens found in our foods.
Antibodies are also known as immunoglobins, and they are Y- shaped proteins that the immune system produces to fight off foreign invaders. As mentioned earlier antibodies are produced in the primary and secondary response of the immune system. Antibodies are on a search and tag mission. They search out the antigens (or invaders) and tag them (or stick to them) and also identify the exact type of antigen so that the immune system can destroy it. Each antibody is specifically designed to attach to only one antigen and is created with receptors that allow it to only bind to that specific antigen.
White blood cells are what make up the immune system. There are five distinct white blood cells- they are Neutrophils, Eosinophils, Basophils, Monocytes, and Lymphocytes. Each one has a specific function in the body. Today however we are going to focus on the Lymphocytes.
We are going to focus on the different types of Lymphocytes. The T-cells, B-cells (T- lymphocytes, B Lymphocytes, and NK Killer Cells (Natural Killer).
Lymphocytes are known as the master cells of the body’s immune system and are divided into 3 categories known as T cells, B cells and NK killer cells. The T- cells are produced in the thymus gland as we mentioned earlier produces all of the T- cells we will need and produces mature T-cells. T- cells are only designed to go after one specific antigen or invader. For each and every different invader a different T-cell is produced. It will ignore all the other invaders and only go after the antigen it is programmed to go after. There after four different T-cells: Memory, Cytotoxic, Helper, and Suppressor.
The Memory Cells are in your body for quite some time after the infection has left, in order for it to spring back to action again in case there is another attack by the same antigen.
Cytotoxic: Attack cells that contain antigens on their surface, like cancer and infected body cells. They attach themselves to these cells and release toxins.
Helper: The most common T-lymphocytes. Their main function is two- fold: They produce cytokines (i.e., interleukins and interferon) which then will stimulate Cytotoxic T-cells and macrophages against the antigens or invaders.
And the second function is to stimulate B-Cells (lymphocytes) to produce antibodies against a specific invader or antigen.
The last T-cell is Suppressor- They turn off activated B or T Cells to limit the extent of damage only onto foreign invaders and not on other parts of the body, this decreases the chance of the immune system harming the body.
B Cells account for about 10-15% total of the lymphocyte count. Their job is to release antibodies aka immunoglobins into the bloodstream. Because they only release antibodies in the blood stream, they are less mobile than the T-cells, which means they will stay in the lymph tissue for a while. B-cells also produce antibodies against one specific invader.
There are two types of B Cells: Memory and Plasma. Memory B Cells are similar to the Memory Cells in T-Lymphocytes as they remain in the body for some time after the initial infection is neutralized, ready to respond in case of another attack. If another attack occurs, they respond by stimulating the plasma cell which in turn release antibodies against the antigen.
The Plasma Cell: produce large amounts of antibodies in the blood stream, that are carried to almost all tissue. They secrete millions of antibodies against a specific antigen and only live for about a day.
As you can see the B Cells produce 5 main antibodies, each with a specific action.
NK Killer Cells
What are NK Killer Cells?
From Wikipedia: “Natural killer cells, or NK cells, are a type of cytotoxic lymphocyte critical to the innate immune system. The role NK cells play is analogous to that of cytotoxic T cells in the vertebrate adaptive immune response. NK cells provide rapid responses to virus-infected cells, acting at around 3 days after infection, and respond to tumor formation.”
These cells are a part of our natural God given defense system, that did not arise from being exposed to a past exposure or antigen, or vaccine. They consist of about 10-15% of circulating lymphocytes and do not have B or T cell markers. They recognize cells that are covered with antibodies and go directly after their target, their main targets are tumors cells and viruses. How do we help our immune system function optimally? First, we have to think about gut health.
Why is Gut Health Important to a healthy immune system?
“The three detecting systems in the intestine are more extensive than those of any other organ: the enteric nervous system contains on the order of 108 neurons, the gastroenteropancreatic endocrine system uses more than 20 identified hormones, and the gut immune system has 70– 80% of the body's immune cells.”
Three Australian doctors from the University of Melbourne's Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology published this paper.
Think about it 80%!
So, we’ve been talking about the function of the immune system and how it reacts to foreign invaders, but most of the body’s immune cells actually come from our gut. That makes our gut health very important. So, let’s talk about some of the things that can compromise our gut health.
Antibiotics, refined sugar, diet, birth control, chronic stress.
Most of us have had exposure to at least one these in our lives… We all know antibiotics can disturb the good bacteria in our gut, by killing off good and bad bacteria which can lead to an imbalance of the good and bad bacteria which should be 80% good to 20% bad ratio. Also, when the bad guys outnumber the good guys in our gut the gut can become further compromised with candida overgrowth. Candida is a single cell fungus naturally present in our stomach and kept in check but the bacteria in our gut, however when that good to bad ratio is compromised the candida can become overgrown and cause a host of issues.
What about sugar? How many of us are guilty of eating refined sugar…? We all are right? And some sugar is fine, but if our diet is loaded with refined sugar, it feeds the bad bacteria, and yeast and is also pretty much has a lack of nutritional content.
Diet... This is a biggie, and there are a lot of good diets to choose from. I tend to like the whole foods-based diet which is basically a good source of protein, like antibiotic hormone free meats, or beans and rice if you’re vegetarian, eggs, etc. A good carb like whole grains, or gluten free like quinoa, brown rice, or root vegetable like sweet potato etc. your veggies and fruits and of course a good fat, like real butter, coconut oil, flax seed, etc. avocadoes nuts and seeds etc.…
And then Birth Control, again this can affect estrogen levels in the body which in turn can cause yeast or candida overgrowth and can also affect hormone levels in the body, something you should be aware of.
Chronic Stress… we all deal with stress, but when it becomes long term stress like from trauma, or illness etc. it can really play a negative effect on our body and our immune system, our body gets overworked. Having a healthy lifestyle means, learning how to deal with stress, counseling, stress relieving exercises, a hobby, spending time with family and friends, church, getting enough sleep, supplements etc. will all help to pull your body out of a chronic stage.
What Supplements can help with boosting immunity?
The supplements below are known to be great for boosting the immune system naturally.
Colostrum is known as the second immune system. Colostrum is a newer recognized supplement on the market that has proven beneficial to the immune system. “Colostrum is the pre-milk fluid produced from the mother's mammary glands during the first 72 hours after birth. It provides life-supporting immune and growth factors that ensure the health and vitality of the newborn.” (newlifefoods.com) Research has shown that colostrum has powerful natural immune and growth factors that help bring the body to a state of homeostasis, or well-being. Colostrum has also been shown to help support healthy immune responses, immune function which enable us to resist the harmful effects of pollutants, allergens, bacteria, and viruses. Colostrum is also wonderful for upper respiratory tract infections and can decrease covid 19 like illnesses by 50%.
Apart from mother’s milk, the only known viable source of colostrum is from cows (bovine). As we age, our bodies gradually produce less immune and growth factors that help our bodies fight off disease and heal damaged body tissue. Because of the HGH (human growth hormones) in colostrum, it has the ability to help with tissue repair and healing, and is especially helpful in cases of compromised intestinal tracks
Colloidal Silver, also known as Electrically Isolated Silver (EIS) is the most modern and safest form of silver for human consumption. It is simply silver ions and microscopic silver particles produced by electrolysis and suspended in distilled water. Colloidal silver may provide support for your body's natural immune system and hence, has shown to have numerous healing properties. It can be used internally to help prevent and fight off acute secondary infections often associated with Lyme, such as Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Mycoplasma, and Yeast overgrowth or Candidiasis.
“Colloidal Silver has been shown to be effective against more than 650 disease-causing organisms, including E Coli and Candida Albicans” (prescription for nutritional healing)
Topically, Colloidal Silver can be used to fight fungal infections of the skin and nails as well as promote healing of burns, wounds, rashes, cuts and even sunburn. It is also beneficial on mouth sores, helpful in fighting tooth decay, and can be sprayed on air-conditioning filters, vents and ducts to prevent germ-bacteria growth. A good silver that we recommend is ACS 200 Extra Strength Colloidal Silver by Results RNA.
Olive Leaf Extract:
This powerhouse herb has been shown to be effective against virtually all viruses and bacteria on which is has been tested. Laboratory studies have suggested that olive leaf extract prevents viral infection from spreading or becoming rooted by rendering the virus incapable of infecting cells or preventing them from reproducing. Olive Leaf renders the virus incapable of infecting cells or prevents them from reproducing. Olive Leaf Extract is also beneficial in treating sore throats, sinusitis, and pneumonia, as well as fungal and bacterial infections. It has been shown to help prevent and protect against infection by viruses such as HIV, herpes, and influenza.
Manuka Honey has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal purposes.
Hailing from New Zealand and Australia, Manuka comes from the manuka tree where bees pollinate its rich flowers. All honey contains some hydrogen peroxide which gives it its antibiotic like quality. Most Honey also contains the antibacterial methylglyoxal (MG) albeit in small amounts. Manuka however contains a higher concentration of MG. In Manuka this MG comes from the conversion of another compound, dihydroxyacetone, which is found in the nectar of the manuka flowers in a high concentrated amount. The higher this concentration, the stronger the antibiotic effect the manuka has. Those who produce manuka honey use something called UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) which lets the consumer know the potency of the manuka they are buying. The minimum for a therapeutic manuka honey is 10 UMF, with ranges going all the way up to 22+ UMF. Because of its antibacterial content manuka is used anywhere from helping to treat minor wounds and burns, sore throats, and reducing inflammation. It has also been used to help treat SIBO (Small intestine bacterial overgrowth). Those with allergies to bees, honey or have diabetes should probably avoid this particular immune booster. More research is needed on this honey, but it looks like it could be a promising way to aid the immune system.
Our gastrointestinal tract houses more than 400 types of different microorganisms. These "friendly" microorganisms help protect our GI tract from "unfriendly" microorganisms, bacteria, parasites, viruses, yeasts, and fungi. They also act to improve immune system function and have numerous health benefits. Probiotics encourage the growth of healthy bacteria.
The ratio of flora in the intestines should be a ratio of 85% friendly bacteria to 15% harmful. Many of the chronically ill have the ratios reversed. The regular supplementation of a high-quality probiotic that contains numerous strains of living lactic acid bacteria will help to produce good bacteria that will encourage the growth of a healthy colony of bacteria in the digestive tract. Research has shown us that probiotics are of vital necessity as they: (www.theultimateenzyme.com)
improve digestion and nutrient absorption.
dramatically improve human immune function.
protect against invasion of foreign pathogens and infectious agents.
enhance the immune system's ability to fight infections.
provide a main source of Vitamin K.
lower cholesterol by metabolizing it.
control bowel toxicity and decrease the risk of bowel cancer.
reduce gas production by non-disease-producing microorganisms.
protect the body from the devastating effects of accumulated toxins.
produce short-chain fatty acids that are converted into energy.
help protect against unhealthy cholesterol buildup.
All of these supplements are great immunity boosters and can help improve immunity, decrease viral and bacterial infections, defend against respiratory infections, fight inflammation, and keep the immune system healthy. Keeping yourself healthy this season with immune boosters!
Balch, Phyliss A, C.N.C and Balch, James F., M.D. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Third Edition. p.66.
Mehmet O & Roizen, M (2020, June 23) Cow Supplement Strengthens Immunity Newsmax
Tonkin M (2012) Lyme & Co:infections, the Road to Recovery Lulu Press