Immune system problems
The immune system is an amazing line of protection in our bodies composed of a variety of cells. Even though they are created in specific parts of the body, once they are checked and tested they are released into the bloodstream to be stationed in certain areas waiting for an emergency call or sent to patrol the body. Like a SWAT team, they possess special skills, weapons, and knowledge, maintaining constant and effective communication to assure that the body is functioning correctly.
The body contains over 60 trillion cells. Each cells contains an internal mechanism that allows it to repair and regenerate. Cells communicate with each other by producing chemicals while the brain communicates using nerves and hormones. Every cell in our body is designed to recognize invaders and foreign chemicals. Once detected, cells produce a chemical that alerts the brain and neighboring cells of potential danger. The brain then produces hormones that activate certain neurotransmitters that produce cytokines, alerting immune cells.
When called into action immune cells use their extremely accurate GPS system to lead them to the exact location that needs help. It’s interesting to note that when immune cells are called the rest of the body creates a “pathway” that allows the cells to get to the compromised area with extreme quickness. Inflammation, pain, redness, and fever are manifestations that the immune cells are in action. Once damaged cells are removed and new, healthy cells have taken their place, everything goes back to normal. During the process different types of immune cells are involved. As we can see, there is participation and connection of a variety of tissues in different parts of the body at any given time when immune cells are at work.
The main functions of immune cells are:
Kill and dismantle damaged and irreparable cells
Destroy cancerous cells
Kill bacteria, viruses and fungi
Help remove and destroy toxins
Record information from any foreign molecule that enters the body
Record composition of germs to avoid rapid infections
Respond to infections
Immune cells are created in different parts of the body. Some are created in the bone marrow, the majority of which is created in the upper legs. Another type of immune cell is made in the spleen (located under the lower rib). The thymus gland (located at the center of the chest next the heart) is also responsible for the production of many immune cells. Additionally, the thymus regulates immune response, immune cell production, and tracks immune cell activity throughout the body.
It is amazing to think that there are over 12 trillion immune cells in the body. With all that protection, it would be easy to assume that we’re safe and can never become susceptible to chronic illnesses, infections, or cancer. However, the immune system can only work its best when there is a healthy balance of hormones and neurotransmitters. Only recently have we fully appreciated that the traditionally separated domains of neurology, endocrinology, immunology and microbiology with their respective parts- the brain, glands, gut, immune cells and microbiota – all work together to keep the immune system at its best. Any increase in cortisol levels seriously affects its efficiency. Cortisol especially impairs the thymus gland, deeply impacting the immune system. Cortisol levels increase when we’re under stress. Under chronic stress, the immune system takes a big blow. Lack of nutrients and sleep (adults need 7-8 hours and children 9-10) also have a big impact in how well the system functions.
When the immune system is compromised, several things occur. One of the most damaging effects is that immune cells are produced incorrectly. These immune cells are not capable or efficient. They are unable to recognize unhealthy cells, leaving them undisturbed. This is how chronic illness can develop. Inefficient immune cells are also unable to distinguish between healthy and cancerous cells. This provides an environment where cancerous cells continue to grow until tumors form. When these ineffective immune cells encounter germs they don’t immediately respond, giving pathogens time to spread and infect the body. Healing from infections also takes longer than normal to heal. This leads to extended inflammation that further affects immune response and other organs.
Another problem is illness caused by the immune system itself. When the immune cells are not fully functional they begin attacking healthy tissue because they can’t distinguish between healthy and unhealthy cells. This creates autoimmune illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis; all of which affect other areas of the body such as the joints or skin.
It is important to note that immune cells have other helpers called microbiomes. These are good bacteria that live in our intestinal tract. There are more than 800 types of bacteria that live peacefully in colonies in the gut. Some of the food we eat feed these bacteria allowing them to produce certain byproducts. These byproducts help keep the intestinal tract healthy. Some of the chemicals they produce data and information to our immune cells reporting the status of the bacterial communities. These chemicals also help prevent chronic inflammation and induce normal hormonal responses. Imbalances in bacterial colonies affect our immune system and brain. Bad nutrition is the most common culprit that affects this microbial order and balance. For example, a low fiber diet creates a disaster in our intestinal health. In a healthy environment, microbes break down fermenting fiber that nourishes cells in the intestines. As microbes break down the fiber, byproducts are created that initiate communication with our immune system and nerves in the body. This can’t occur if we are not eating enough fiber.
Antibiotics also have a negative impact on the immune system. Antibiotics kill all bacteria, including many of the good bacteria that work in conjunction with the immune system. This creates damage that affects the entire body.
Another important part of the immune system is a region in the brain called the vagus. The vagus communicates with the thymus, spleen, and immune cells through a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. This area receives messages from damaged or compromised tissues. It also receives messages whenever there is an elevated amount of inflammatory molecules in the bloodstream. When these messages are received, signals are sent to block the production of TNF, a substance in the body that causes inflammation and if left unchecked can lead to a number of immune system diseases. Blocking TNF is essential for controlling inflammation and makes up an important part of regulating immune responses. All this communication is done through reflexes and keeps the immune system from over or under working, keeping our cells protected in the process. Chronic stress however, always disrupts this communication.
Local and systemic elevation of pro-inflammatory cytokines levels activates the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal connection; it also produces corticotrophin which drives the body’s response to stress. This causes a disturbance to neuropeptides, changing our mood and behavior. This change stimulates the anterior pituitary gland and releases the stress hormone ACTH, stimulating the release of cortisol for the adrenal gland.
When overweight or obesity levels are constant, inflammation occurs, which stimulates the adrenal gland to create the hormones listed above. This causes a cycle of perpetual stress – all of which is due to inflammatory reactions. This indicates that under normal conditions the neuroendocrine and immune systems coordinate to ensure maintenance of homeostasis. Indeed under chronic stress there is low concentration of the anti-inflammatory steroid hormone.
As has been stated, chronic stress is a common problem that leads to immune disorders. Other factors include an imbalance of bacteria populations in the intestine, lack of sleep, bad diet, neurotransmitter imbalance, hormonal imbalance, and chronic inflammation. Common manifestations of a compromised immune system include low immune defense (flus and infections that last for days) and allergies (which essentially are when immune cells are unable to recognize certain foods or foreign matter such as animal fur). Allergies occur when immune cells think animal hair, pollen, or certain foods are pathogenic and start attacking. The surrounding tissues become victims in the process, leading to symptoms such as swelling, tears, excess mucus and areas of local or full scaled body inflammation.
Our Phytotherapi immune protocol provides tools that allow the body to heal and restore the immune system to optimal strength. It includes tools to help the body reestablish cycles of reflexes by our nervous system to the thymus and spleen and avoid overactive or underactive immune responses.