Immune System Enhancement

Compiled by John G. Connor, M.Ac., L.Ac. Edited by Barbara Connor, M.Ac., L.Ac.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction
Understanding the Immune System
Components of the Immune System
How the Immune System Works
Disorders Involving the Immune System
Chinese Medical Explanation of Immunity
Research on how Acupuncture Benefits Immunity
Useful Foods for Enhancing Immunity
Foods to Avoid
Useful Herbs and Phytonutrients for Immune Support
Cancer and Immunity
Useful Herbs and Phytonutrients for Cancer Prevention
Lifestyle Recommendations
References

1. INTRODUCTION
  • Barbara and I get very good results strengthening the immune system using a combination of acupuncturecraniosacral therapy, herbs, supplements and lifestyle recommendations.  We have written this article to help give you a better understanding of how the immune system works and how we treat it.
2. UNDERSTANDING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
  • By varying estimates one fourth to one half of all the cells in the human body are exclusively dedicated to immune function. This makes it the largest system of the body.
  • Organs involved in immunity include the thymus, bone marrow, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes. Lymph circulates through lymphatic vessels in the body and also bathes the body’s cells. It is through the lymphatic system that fluid from the spaces between cells is drained, taking with it waste products, toxins and other debris from the tissues.
  • The task of the immune system is to identify those things that are “self” (that naturally belong in the body) and those that are “nonself” (foreign or otherwise harmful material), and then to neutralize or destroy that which is “nonself.”
  • Research has found that the cells of the immune system are connected into a communication system with the nervous system, spleen, lymph nodes and more. Immune cells also have receptors for the neurochemicals adrenaline and noradrenaline. These findings provide a direct link between the immune system and the mind. Emotions, thoughts and attitudes can therefore have an effect on immune system function.
3. COMPONENTS OF THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Differentiation of white blood cells:

Granulocytes  –  are of three types:
1) Neutrophils – the most abundant type of white blood cell, whose function is to ingest and destroy microorganisms.
2) Eosinophils – which ingest and destroy antigen-antibody combinations and also moderate allergic reactions by secreting an enzyme that breaks down histamine.
3) Basophils  – which secrete compounds such as heparin or histamine in response to contact with antigens.

Histamine is secreted by mast cells, basophils and blood platelets. It is released in direct response to the Injury of cells that contain it and it is also released in response to stimulation by certain components of the complement system. It is responsible for constricting bronchial airways, dilating blood vessels and increasing the permeability of blood vessels which permits fluid to move from the blood into tissue spaces causing the swelling of inflammation. The pain of inflammation can be caused by nerve damage, irritation by toxins or the pressure of the swelling.

Lymphocytes
 – are responsible for the development of specific immunities. There are three main types:
1) T ceils – undergo maturation in the thymus gland and play a major role in cell-mediated immunity. T-cells circulate in the blood.
2) B cells – mature in the bone marrow and are responsible for the production of antibodies. B cells do not circulate in the blood. Their role is to produce and secrete antibodies. Each B-cell is specific to one particular antigen.
3) NK (Natural Killer) cells – destroy body cells that have become infected or become cancerous.

  • When an invader is present T-cells tell B-cells to start producing antibodies. B-cells then rum into plasma cells, whereby millions of antibodies specific to the invader cells are produced. Once the antibodies are produced they are sent into the bloodstream to lock onto an antigen and destroy it. Plasma cells (which live 4 – 5 days) memorize the invader’s antigens and become memory B-cells. In this way if another invasion occurs antibodies will be made available much more rapidly. The B-cells that do not become plasma cells remain as memory B-cells and live for months or years, ready to forcefully and rapidly take action the next time the same invader appears.
  • Monocytes- act as the garbage collectors of the body. They engulf and digest foreign particles as well as damaged or aging cells, including tumor cells.
Differentiation of Cytokines:
  • Cytokines- are proteins secreted by monocytes called monokines and by lymphocytes called lymphokines that regulate the magnitude of an inflammatory or immune response.
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF)-alpha – is a major cytokine that is produced by macrophage cells. In general its effects cause inflammation.
  • Interleukin-1 – is a cytokine that is involved in the process that induces fever.
  • Interleukin-4 – enhances the ability of B-cells to make antibodies. It also stimulates helper T-cells and cytotoxic T-cells to perform their job. Overproduction of  interleukin-4 promotes allergic responses.
  •  Interleukin -6 – is released by macrophages, monocytes and some T-cells, and induces B-cells to produce antibodies. An abnormal production of interleukin-6 is associated with autoimmune disorders and inflammatory and allergic conditions.
  • Interferon -is an antiviral protein (cytokine) produced by fibroblasts in connective tissue, by lymphocytes and by other leukocytes. It is also produced by virus infected host cells in very small quantities and diffuses to uninfected neighboring cells where it induces the uninfected cells to manufacture mRNA for the synthesis of antiviral proteins. Interferon is also secreted by T-cells in order to call NK cells to battle at the site of infected cells. The following herbs boost our own production of interferon: astragalus, echinacea, medicinal mushrooms, Pau d’arco and licorice.
There are two types of T-cells:
  • 1) Helper T-cells – also known as T4 cells or CD4 cells, sound the emergency alarm and assist cytotoxic T-cells in their action. They also secrete interleukin-2 which stimulates the growth, abundance and killing ability of cytotoxic T-cells. Helper T-cells also secrete proteins that increase the inflammatory response and the ability of macrophages to kill.  HIV is a retrovirus that hijacks helper T-cells and dominates the cell’s genetic makeup.
  • TH1 helper cells – produce lymphokines that enhance the ability of the immune system to respond to viruses, intracellular bacteria, fungi or parasites and activate cytotoxic or suppressor T-cells, TH1 helper cells release interleukin-2 and gamma-interferon.
  • TH2 helper cells – function more in relation to allergic reactions or antibody responses. TH2 mediated responses increase antibody production and when out of balance can cause destruction of cells of the “self”. TH2 cells release interleukin-6, a powerful interleukin involved in inflammatory processes seen in rheumatoid arthritis. TH2 cells release IL-4, IL-6 and IL-10 which enhance the ability of B-cells to produce antibodies. When TH1 helper cells are suppressed and TH2 is in excess, a cascade of immune-related problems occurs; for example, cancer is left to flourish, inflammation occurs and autoimmune diseases run rampant.  Studies show that psoriasis is associated with TH2 cells releasing an overabundance of IL-6, which increases the production of skin cells.
  • 2) Cytotoxic T-cells – inject killing agents into infected cells to destroy them. They also elicit a form of programmed cell death called apoptosis whereby infected cells are programmed to commit suicide. Immunologists believe that the liver damage that results in hepatitis B is caused by the cell-destroying action of cytotoxic T-cells. While eradicating the virus, these cells damage liver tissue.
Antibodies:
  • IgA – is found in tears, milk, sweat and saliva as well as on mucous membranes. It is involved in holding off invaders or pushing them out of the body. When secretory IgA in the GI tract is low, immune deficiency is common.
  • IgE -is involved in allergic reactions whereby mast cells are encouraged to release histamine. In cases of severe allergic reactions, too much histamine causes a system overload that may result in anaphylactic reactions that can result in death.
  • IgG – is the most abundant antibody. It coats microorganisms and is specialized to kill certain bacteria and viruses. It also activates a series of enzymes that enhance the digestion of invaders
  • IgM – operates in the bloodstream only and engages in disabling bacteria.
4. HOW THE IMMUNE SYSTEM WORKS
  • The immune system has the ability to identify, and then to remember, specific antigens that have been encountered. It does this through cell-mediated immunity and humoral immunity.
  • In cell-mediated immunity white blood cells called T lymphocytes identify and then destroy cancerous cells, viruses, bacteria and fungi. The T lymphocytes or T-cells, mature in the thymus gland. In the thymus each T-cell is programmed to identify one particular type of invading enemy, T-cells attack antigens in part through the secretion of proteins called cytokines. Interferon is one of the better known types of cytokines.
  •  Humoral immunity involves the production of antibodies. These are not cells, but special proteins whose chemical structures are formed to match the surfaces of specific antigens. When they encounter their specific antigens, antibodies either damage the invasive cells or alert the white blood cells to attack. The antibodies are produced by another group of white blood cells, the B lymphocytes, which are manufactured by and mature in the bone marrow.
  • When a B lymphocyte is presented with a particular antigen, it engineers an antibody to match it and stores a blueprint of the invader so that it can initiate the production of antibodies in case of a subsequent exposure. For this to work each B cell must be prepared to produce an almost infinite variety of different antibodies so that it can match whatever antigen it is presented with. This is made possible by a mechanism known as “jumping genes”. Inside the B cells the genes that determine the chemical structure of the protein to be produced can be shuffled around and linked up in an astronomical number of different combinations. As a result, any B cell is capable of producing an antibody molecule to match virtually any foreign invader.
5. DISORDERS INVOLVING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
  • Disorders involving the immune system include: Ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, juvenile onset diabetes, systemic lupus  erythematosis, HIV, myasthenia gravis, Grave’s disease, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, psoriasis, pernicious anemia, autoimmune hemolytic anemia and chronic fatigue and immune deficiency syndrome.
  • Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system attacks the body. There are different hypotheses regarding the reason for this happening including viral or bacterial infection; stress; and genetic susceptibility. For example adenovirus type 2 has amino add sequences that are very similar to that of the myelin proteins that surround the nerves in the body. When the body responds to this virus it may also mistakenly attack myelin which may result in multiple sclerosis.
  • Classic allergic responses are marked by an increase in IgE antibodies that cause an immune system reaction promoting inflammation. Allergic rhinitis is an example of an unruly immune response to pollens in the upper respiratory tract. Some allergic reactions, however, are cell-mediated or IgG anti-body mediated and they do not follow the classic allergic symptoms. These include food intolerances or food sensitivities which manifest as gastrointestinal upsets, diarrhea, irritable bowel and brain fog type symptoms or hyperactivity as seen in children.
6. CHINESE MEDICAL EXPLANATION OF IMMUNITY
  • Qi is energy which manifests simultaneously on the physical and spiritual level. When Qi is condensed it forms the material body and is Yin in nature. When Qi is moving or being dispersed it is Yang in nature, The Yin and Yang aspects of Qi form the basis of human physiology. If Qi is flourishing there is health, if it is weak there is disease. If it is balanced there is quiet, if it moves in the wrong direction there is disease. All the various types of Qi are ultimately one Qi, merely manifesting in different forms.
  • The most important aspects in maintaining a healthy immune system is having healthy Jing (essence) and Zheng (postnatal) Qi.  Jing is related to Marrow and Bone Marrow – the source of blood production. Zong Qi (from interaction of Gu Qi air) and Gu Qi (from food) produce Zheng Qi. Prenatal Qi is what we are born with and it is stored in the Kidney.
  • Resistance to pathogens is a function of Lung Qi and Kidney Yang. Ming Men is the Kidney Yang fire that activates Yuan (Source) Qi.
  • Immunity is connected with Wei Qi, Zheng Qi and the San Jiao (Triple Burner)
  • Wei QI or Defensive QI deals with prevention and resistance, and protects the body against pathogens. It circulates outside the channels in the skin, muscles and fascia. It is controlled by the Lungs, so Lung deficiency can lead to Wei Qi deficiency. It is also controlled by the San Jiao. The fascia is the realm of the San Jiao and has to do with lymphatics.
  • Ying Qi or Nourishing Qi nourishes the internal organs and the whole body. It goes through the blood vessels and is controlled by the Spleen, Pericardium and Liver. It is the second line of defense and travels in all the meridians and extra vessels. This is the Qi which is activated whenever a needle is inserted into an acupuncture point.
  • Divergent vessels connect Wei Qi and Ying Qi, the external and the internal, the Lung and the Kidney.
  • Latent Pathogenic Factors. A progressive weakening of the Zheng Qi injures the Jing and allows latent pathogenic factors to manifest, e.g. AIDS.
  • Lingering/ Residual Pathogens enter the body and manifest, but are not fully expelled, e.g. antibiotic therapy which suppresses the pathogen and drives it deeper without expelling it.
7. RESEARCH ON HOW ACUPUNCTURE BENEFITS IMMUNITY
  • According to a paper presented at the 5th World Congress of Acupuncture acupuncture affects immunity in the following ways:
  •  Acupuncture elevates levels of white blood cells, specific hormones, prostaglandins, gamma-globulins, antibodies and opsonins.  
  • Acupuncture constricts and dilates blood vessels, promoting the body’s release of vasodilators (known as histamines).
  • Acupuncture activates the secretions of endorphins, specifically enkaphalins.  
  • Acupuncture elevates the levels of neurotransmitters, specifically serotonin and noradrenaline.
  • According to Cindy Jones, PhD “There is evidence that acupuncture can have a beneficial effect on the immune system and on treating infectious diseases as well.”
  • According to Subhuti Dharmananda Ph.D. moxibustion produces immune-regulation that can be utilized for the treatment of immune deficiency and auto-immunity.
  • According to Bianchi traditional acupuncture increases the content of beta-endorphin in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and it increases T-lymphocyte proliferation to mitogen.
8. USEFUL FOODS FOR ENHANCING IMMUNITY
  • Avocado – is rich in the powerful detoxifier glutathione. It is also rich in potassium and chromium,
  • Cranberries and blueberries – contain anthocyanins with powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenging activity. They also inhibit bacteria from attaching to the wall of the bladder, thereby stopping urinary tract infections.
  • Grapefruit – which is rich in lycopene, is also a good source of glutathione, the immune system master nutrient.
  • Red and purple grapes – may put small tumors into remission and enhance natural killer cell activity. They also inhibit oxidation, unclog arteries and reduce cholesterol, fight allergies and have anti-inflammatory properties. An extract from the grape seed, proanthocyanidin oligomers (PCO) has also shown immune-enhancing anticancer effects.
  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, collard greens, kale, daikon, mustard greens, etc. ) – increase levels of glutathione which is an extremely important generator of immune cells and a powerful detoxifier that eliminates carcinogens. Broccoli contains sulphoraphane, a powerful phytonutrient that stimulates certain enzymes to deactivate cancer cells, allowing them to be digested and eliminated from the body. Sulphoraphane helps turn on helper T-cells to recognize them as invaders and tell killer cells to respond and destroy them.
  • Garlic -The sulfur compounds found in garlic are the basis for its immune-enhancing capabilities. Sulfur enhances the function of natural killer cells, thereby boosting the immune system’s ability to fight cancerous cells and cells Infected by bacteria and viruses, Garlic is also able to help the body detoxify heavy metals, especially mercury. Heavy metal toxicity is a serious burden to the immune system.
  • Essential Fatty Adds – Ground flaxseeds contain lignans that have been proven to have anticancer, antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties
  • Yogurt – One study found that yogurt containing acidophilus eaten over several months increased gamma-interferon, an important immune-enhancing protein that prevents viruses from reproducing themselves. Also noted was a reduction in inflammatory responses of the gut. IgE, an immunoglobulin that is effective in destroying parasites, is enhanced when lactobacillus bulgaricus was added to the diet. Yogurt contains calcium D-glucarate which helps metabolize excess estrogen to be eliminated from the body via the liver. Excess estrogens are thought to be a factor in the promotion of breast cancer.
9. FOODS TO AVOID
  • Aspartame- rapidly turns into dangerous formaldehyde in the body
  • Hydrogenated foods – such as margarine, shortening and all partially hydrogenated vegetable oils contain trans fatty adds which cause heart disease, increase LDL – (the bad cholesterol) and lower HDL – (the good cholesterol), increase inflammatory responses, inhibit immune function, promote aging and free radical damage and cause toxicity in the liver.
  • Red meat – aggravates conditions such as multiple sclerosis and arthritis. Arachidonic add, a substance which is found in red meats is linked to an increase in pro-inflammatory factors.
  • Sugar – reduces immunity. It lowers the body’s production of antibodies and causes macrophages to be inactive. Sugar causes a form of paralysis to take place in our immune cells so that they are unable to move around the body fighting invaders and they are rendered ineffective It also increases the growth of Candida albicans. One teaspoon of white sugar can devastate our immune system for up to six hours, leaving us vulnerable to attack from viruses, bacteria, cancer cells and parasites.
10. USEFUL HERBS AND PHYTONUTRIENTS FOR IMMUNE SUPPORT
  • Carotenoids -boost the immune system and enhance the response of T-cells and B-cells.
  • Cat’s claw (Una de gato or Uncaria tomentosa)
  •  This herb is believed to accelerate wound healing and to enhance cartilage restoration in joint disorders. A number of case studies also show promise for cat’s claw in treating various immuno deficiency states, auto immunological diseases, allergic diseases, tremors, gastrointestinal inflammation and even viral and bacterial infections.
  • There are two Uncaria tomentosa chemotypes. One of these contains pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids (POAs) which are vital to the herb’s activity; the other contains tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids (TOAs), which negate the POAs’ beneficial properties. To be certain that a preparation is active, it is essential that it be certified as TOA-free, only then can utility be assured.
  • Several in-vitro studies have shown that POA-containing cat’s claw products activate both T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes and also increase the phagocyte performance rate of the granulocytes and of cells in the reticuloendothelial system. At the same time, the proliferation of transformed and activated T-lymphoblasts and B-lymphoblasts is inhibited.
  • Coenzyme Q10 – Research shows that macrophage activity is increased with CoQlO supplements, and that CoQlO has antiviral, antibacterial and antitumor effects. CoQlO is especially important during viral Infections since CoQlO levels in white blood cells fall rapidly as the cell’s requirements for the nutrient increase in order to fight off invaders. It is also known to enhance natural killer cell activity and inhibit metastasis of tumors.
  • Colostrum – may be of benefit in immune and autoimmune diseases. Colostrum contains the following immune factors; IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG and IgM, lactoferrin, cytokines, trypsin inhibitors, protease inhibitors, lymphokines and more.
  • One study in mice showed restoration of suppressed immune function with dandelion. (Suo, 1993)
  • DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) – When DHEA levels are low, cortisol, the stress hormone, is often found to be high. DHEA seems to be a protective factor against the negative effects of cortisol. High cortisol levels Increase the release of lnterleukin-6, promoting inflammation and destruction of body tissues.   In one study when supplemental DHEA in a dose of 50 mg was added, hardening of the arteries was reduced and insulin sensitivity increased.
  • In another study, females with systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE) were given 200 mg of DHEA for up to six months. All the women in the study noted overall improvement in the way they felt and the SLE Disease Activity Index score was improved significantly.
  • Scientists have shown that DHEA increases the secretion of interleukin-2 and gamma-interferon while inhibiting the secretion of interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor.
  • CAUTION: Men who have prostate cancer or women with estrogen-dominant cancers should avoid supplementation with DHEA.
  • Fish oils – exert positive effects on arachidonic acid metabolism. Arachidonic acid is responsible for making the prostaglandins that cause inflammation and  aggravate certain allergic symptoms.
  • Flavonoids – are potent antioxidants that prevent the formation of free radicals. They prevent inflammatory leukotrienes from causing joint pain and destruction.  They also stimulate T-cell formation and lymphocyte transformation. Food sources include broccoli, grapes, carrots, onions, peppers, green tea, tangerines, elderberries, blueberries, bilberries, apples, all citrus fruits and Ginkgo biloba.
  • Glutathione – Free radical damage goes unchecked without adequate cell levels of glutathione. One study found that when elderly patients with mild glutathione deficiencies were given 75 mg daily, their T-cell activity increased dramatically, they felt healthier and had more energy. It can also protect us against ultraviolet radiation, X-rays, peroxides and the toxic effects of alcohol and prescription medications. Food sources include the cruciferous vegetables, watermelon and avocado.
  • Green tea – Research shows that several cups of green tea each day have antiviral, anticancer and antibacterial effects
  • Magnesium – deficiency causes an increase in pro-inflammatory conditions and an excess production of free radicals seen in CFIDS, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid conditions. Food sourcesare tofu, legumes, seeds and nuts, green leafy vegetables, and whole unrefined grains.
  • Olive Leaf Extract – Olive leaves contain oleuropein and the products of its hydrolysis, oleuropein aglycone, elenolic acid, beta-3.4-dihydroxyphenyethyl alcohol and methyl-o-methyl elenolate. Unfortunately formal clinical studies of possible health benefits of olive leaf extract in humans are scarce; however, case reports and clinical anecdotes indicate that the product may well have effective antibacterial and antiviral properties in humans. Personal case studies have shown olive leaf extract to be effective treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Phytoestrogens – Soy products contain isoflavones, daidzein and genistein as well as protease inhibitors all of which are powerful anticancer phytochemicals. Genistein and daidzen fill the receptor sites on cells meant for estrogen, reducing the amount of estrogen produced by the body thus providing a cancer-protective effect. Estrogens, especially estradiol, are thought to be a causative factor in breast cancer, prostate cancer, menopausal symptoms, osteoporosis, PMS, and endometriosis.  Genistein also prevents blood clots and restricts the growth of blood vessels, which are the oxygen and nutrition source around tumors. All isoflavones stop the growth of young malignant tumors, thereby allowing the immune system to mop up these small tumors and eliminate them.
  • Protease inhibitors which are contained in soy products; suppress and stop the spread of cancer cells by interfering with the normal function of enzymes such as trypsin and chymotrypsin, thereby inhibiting the production of cancer.
  • Selenium – is essential to the production of glutathione peroxidase which is important in detoxifying the body of environmental toxins. Selenium deficiency causes poor resistance to viruses and bacteria and reduces T-cell activity and antibody production. Selenium supplementation has been shown to increase IL-2 levels, which is important in activating NK cell activity It has also been shown to reduce inflammatory prostaglandins and leukotrienes as well as free radicals. Food sources include Brazil nuts, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, brown rice, chicken, dairy products, dulse, garlic, kelp, liver, molasses, onions, salmon, seafood, torula yeast, tuna, vegetables, wheat germ and whole grains. Dosage: It is not recommended that more than 200 micrograms of selenium be taken daily in any of the forms, since the different selenium compounds have varying degrees of toxicity.
  • Tonic herbs: Astragalus, Shiitake and/or Ling Zhi mushrooms, dong quai, licorice root, ligusticum, schizandra, fo-ti, codonopsis, poria, atractylodis and tienchi. Please consult us before using these herbs as they are generally prepared as specialized formulas.
  • A review done at UNC found that overall it appears that antioxidant nutrients (vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and carotenoids) especially those from food sources may enhance immune function. (McDermott, 2000)
  • Vitamin A – normalizes cell division and helps mucous membranes maintain their structural integrity to keep invaders out. Vitamin A deficiency causes the thymus to shrink, resulting in an impaired immune system. Low levels of Vitamin A are associated with reduced antibody production and as a result T-cells will not be able to fight invaders.
  • Vitamin B6 – Without enough VitaminB6 the thymus will shrink and a reduction in the amount of thymulin will result, T-cell activity will diminish along with B-cells and antibodies. Interleukin-2 will also be reduced, disabling natural killer cells, which raises the risk of infection and cancer and compromises the immune system. Food sources are meat, fish and poultry, grains, nuts and seeds, soybeans, green leafy vegetables and potatoes.
  • Vitamin C – provides protection against viral infection by strengthening connective tissue and neutralizing toxic substances that are released by phagocytes. Research confirms that Vitamin C is antiviral, antibacterial and anticancer. Vitamin C enhances one of the complement enzymes, C1 esterase, without which the entire enzymatic cascade of complement would not occur and non-“self” cells would not be destroyed. Eighteen percent of the patients in one study taking Vitamin  C showed a tenfold increase in NK cell activity; and B-cell functions improved to normal after only 24 hours of supplementation. Foods high in Vitamin C include Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, mustard greens, broccoli, black currants, kale, parsley, chili peppers, sweet red and green peppers.
  • Vitamin E – in conjunction with selenium and Vitamin  C is the most potent immune protector. It increases resistance to infection, cell-mediated immunity and phagocytosis and reduces damage caused by stress. One study on subjects taking Vitamin  E and Vitamin  C showed an increase in T-cells, interleukin-2 and tumor necrosis factor.
  • Zinc – is the most important mineral for the thymus gland. Zinc is required for cell mediated immunity and proper cell division as well as for DNA synthesis. In one study when 30 mg of zinc was provided to elderly zinc-deficient subjects, levels of interleukin-2 and thymulin increased. Zinc deficiency causes a reduction in T-cells, NK cells and thymic hormone. Recommended dosage is 15 to 60 mg daily. CAUTION: Do not take too much zinc as it can suppress immune function. Food sources include oysters, red meat, shellfish, pumpkin seeds, ginger root, pecans, Brazil nuts, whole grains, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, legumes, garlic, beans and potatoes.
11. CANCER AND IMMUNITY
  • The immune system’s inability to recognize cancerous cells is believed to be due to our natural killer cell function being depressed. When this surveillance system is malfunctioning, antigens can establish themselves and wreak havoc in the body
12. USEFUL HERBS AND PHYTONUTRIENTS FOR CANCER PREVENTION
  •  Ganoderma lucidum – an ancient medicinal mushroom, has been widely used for promotion of health and longevity. Its popularity and perceived health benefits have also prompted the usage by cancer patients. With polysaccharides and triterpenes as principle bioactive constituents, a range of scientific evidence from in vitro to animals and humans in vivo has been discovered for supporting the antitumorigenicity of G. lucidum in cancer of different origins. In the past years, some works have been done to explore the chemopreventive properties of this mushroom on transitional cell carcinoma (TCC). Antiproliferation was demonstrated on TCC cells with different degrees of malignancy, from premalignant to high-grade invasive. In the premalignant human uroepithelial (HUC-PC) cells, growth inhibition via G2/M phase cell cycle arrest and apoptosis was shown by ethanol extract of G. lucidum (GLe), in addition to the suppression of carcinogen 4-aminobiphenyl-mediated cell migration and telomerase activity. More recently, GLe was found to be immunologically active to induce secretion of an array of cytokines secretion and neutrophilic migration, in the culture of HUC-PC cells. (Yuen et al 2012)
  • Ginseng – is a potent anticancer agent. In a Korean study T.K.Yun found that those who consumed ginseng had a 50% lower rate of cancers that those who did not take ginseng. It works to protect the body against cancer of the ovaries, larynx, esophagus, pancreas and stomach. It also has a high sterol and sterolin content which has been shown to have a powerful immune-enhancing effect,
  •  Maitake mushroom – has powerful immune-enhancing actions and stops or eliminates tumor growth.
13. LIFESTYLE  RECOMMENDATIONS
  • Be careful of high-protein diets: High protein diets create an add environment in the body. Acid-creating diets have been linked to increased risk of cancer, especially stomach cancer and they are also associated with depressed immunity.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. There are reports that natural killer cells proliferate in a positive emotional environment, enhancing the body’s ability to fight off disease.
  • Relax – Finding time to relax can be beneficial because prolonged physical, psychological and social stress cause our Immune system to become imbalanced. As a result our adrenal glands become exhausted and we experience weakened body systems, especially cardiovascular and endocrine systems. When our adrenal glands become exhausted conditions of immune dysfunction appear, including allergies, autoimmune disorders, colds and flu, chronic infections, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches and cancer.
  • Exercise – Low to moderate exercise is a most potent immune-enhancing activity, providing movement to the body while clearing the mind. Lymph flows towards the heart and to some degree all of our muscle power pumps the lymph system. T lymphocyte production is also stimulated by exercise.
REFERENCES
Balch, James F., M.D., and Balch, Phyllis A, C.N.C, Prescription for Nutritional Healing Garden City Park: Avery Publishing Group, 1997Buhner, Stephen Harrod, Herbal Antibiotics. Pownal, VT: Storey Books 1999Dharmananda, Subhuti, Ph.D., The Immunological Impact of Moxibustion, Portland: Institute for Traditional Medicine (undated article)

Diamond, W, John, M.D., & Cowden, W. Lee, M.D., with Goldberg, Burton,  Definitive Guide to Cancer, Tiburon. CA Future Medicine Publishing, Inc. 1997
Jackson, Amanda; “Olive Leaf Extract. Nature’s multi-functional force against infections and cardiovascular disease?” Positive Health,Vol 21, F 48-51 09/01/97Jones, Cindy LA, Ph.D., The Antibiotic Alternative, Rochester, VT: Healing Arts 2000Kirschmann, Gayla J., and Kirschmann. John D., Nutrition Almanac, New York: McGraw-Hill 1996Landis, Robyn, Herbal Defense, New York: Warner Books 1997
Maciocia, Giovanni, The Practice of Chinese Medicine, Edinburgh: Churchill Livingston 1994
Martin. Jeanne Mane with Rona, Zoltan P, M.D, Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook, Roseville, CA- Prima Health 2000
McDermott JH “Antioxidant nutrients: current dietary recommendations and research update” J Am Pharm Assoc(Wash) 2000 Nov-Dec;40(6):785-99Mindell, Earl, R.Ph, Ph.D. & Hopkins, Virginia, Prescription Alternatives, New Canaan, CT: Keats Publ, 1998
Paul, William E. M.D, Fundamental Immunology, Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raven Publishers 1999
Schmidt, Michael, D.O, Smith, Lendon, M.D. & Sehnert, Keith, M.D, Beyond Antibiotics. Berkeley: Atlantic Books 1993
Skidmore-Roth, Linda, Mosby’s Handbook of Herbs & Natural Supplements, 2nd edition, St. Louis: Mosby, Inc., 2004
Stengler. Mark. N.D, Nature’s Virus Killers, New York: M. Evans & Co. 2000Tortora, Gerard), Berdell, R Funke, Case, Christine L, Microbiology, An Introduction, Redwood Qty, CA The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Co, Inc. 1992
Tyler, Varro, Ph.D., Sc.D., “Cat’s claw is promising for immune system”. Prescription for Health. June 2000Vanderhaeghe, Lorna R. & Bouic, Patrick J.D, PhD, The Immune System Cure, New York: Kensington Books, 1999Walker, Morton. Olive Leaf Extract, New York: Kensington Books 1997Werbach. Melvyn R, M.D, Nutritional Influences on Illness. Tarzana: Third Line Press, 1996

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Compassionate Acupuncture and Healing Arts, providing craniosacral acupuncture, herbal and nutritional medicine in Durham, North Carolina. Phone number 919-309-7753.

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