By Ben Fuchs, R. Ph.
The human immune system is an amazing, complex, intricate biological framework of structures and processes that is exquisitely designed to protect the body from a wide variety of pathological agents. It is composed of countless cellular and subcellular mechanisms that gives it an intelligence and flexibility that is nothing short of miraculous. B cells and T cells, and Natural Killer cells (that’s really what they’re called!) and immunoglobulins all coordinated and synchronized and astoundingly effective, in most cases the immune system is all that stands between us and potential disaster caused by bacterial, viral and environmental invasion. Without an immune system you would be dead in hours.
That’s why, in the world of toxic pharmaceutical drugs, among the worst, are drugs that suppress the immune system. The medical community loves these drugs as many of the health challenges patients face today involve excessive immune activity, misdirected immune action or inflammation which can be regarded as the obvious manifestations of the immune system. Prednisone, and its derivatives, has long been a mainstay of treatment for immune based disease states. Many drugs for asthma and rheumatoid arthritis are likewise immune suppressants. And just last week, a study appeared in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases that suggested that the immunosuppressant anti-cancer drug Gleevec (imatinib) showed promise for treating the autoimmune disease of the connective tissue called scleroderma.
Folks, please understand: suppression of the immune system is serious business. It’s playing with biochemical fire. The immune system is nature’s way of protecting the body from assault and knocking it out in the name of good health is flat out bad medicine. The appropriate response to an overactive immune system is NOT to shut it down! The correct response is to try to figure out why it’s overactive. If your baby is crying and you put duct tape on his mouth, you may not hear him crying any more, but you aren’t taking very good care of your baby. Likewise, a hyperactive immune system that is showing up as scleroderma or lupus or rheumatoid arthritis can be shut down, but you aren’t doing your body (baby) any favors.
The typical entrée for pathological invader is the digestive tract and it logically follows that hyperimmunity is linked to digestion. If you are suffering through any immune challenge, addressing food allergies or otherwise problematic responses to foods is imperative. And, there are important nutritional supplements that can be important too. Probiotics like Youngevity’s Flora FX or the Biolumin Nightly Essence can be helpful. So can the Ultimate Enzymes. And, liquid supplements like the Beyond Tangy Tangerine can provide effective nutrition without burdening an already stressed out digestive system.
Yes, clearly there are times when immune suppression can be an effective stopgap pharmaceutical strategy, but stifling immunity is a dangerous road to hoe and those times are few and far between. Shutting down the immune system for symptomatic relief needs to be a temporary measure and a last resort. On the other hand, as the Greek physician Hippocrates reminded us 24 centuries ago: “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment …we would have found the safest way to health.” In other words, good nutrition is good medicine.