When antibiotics were developed in the middle of the 20th century, they were hailed as “miracle drugs”. Life-threatening infections were suddenly able to be brought quickly under control. In the period of time that ensued, antibiotics were overused. They were used for the common cold and for viral infection.
While it is desirable to get an infection under control, the overuse of antibiotics has created “superbugs” or bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Also, antibiotic use has been linked to the development of allergies and takingthem burdens the liver, kidneys and digestive system.
Of course, some infections call for antibiotics. Life-threatening diseases like septicemia or pneumonia call for intervention with drugs. Many minor conditions like colds or flu respond well to natural therapies.
Holistic Health Care and the Immune System
The term “alternative health care” is not really appropriate. What “alternative” practitioners do is address the health of the individual and not merely try to manipulate symptoms. They work to improve the health of the patient, enabling the body to heal itself. Holistic health care is a much better term—the whole person is being treated, not just the disease.
Rather than thinking of disease as something that just randomly invades a healthy body, think of disease as evolving when all of the components for good health are not present. For a body to be healthy there must be good genetics, good structural balance, good nutrition, biorhythmic integrity and good emotional health. When these base components are not present, it sets the stage for disease.
Traditional Western medicine deals with symptoms. It is a great approach when the symptoms are severe or dangerous, like they are for a serious infection. If an infection is life-threatening, you need to get it under control quickly. Drug therapy might be a little heavy-handed for a minor problem.
Very often issues with the immune system respond very well to natural approaches, especially if there is a problem with repeated infections. Natural health care is generally better if the problem is caused by a virus. Even if antibiotics are being used, nutritional support and chiropractic care can support the core of health, enabling the body to better defend itself. The medical approach and the natural approach both have a role in immune system problems. Below is a model for health created by Dr. Emanual Cheraskin in his book, Predictive Medicine. In his book, Dr. Cheraskin talked about nutrition being at the center of the circle in the model below; but there are other factors.
An Example of the Development of Poor Health
In his book, Dr. Cheraskin talked about nutrition as being in the center of the circle. The issues that are at the core of good health include nutrition, but also proper structural alignment, emotional well-being, biorhythmic integrity and good genetics. If the core issues for good health are interfered with, a decline begins. For instance, if you eat a lot of hydrogenated oils, chemical additives, refined white sugar and refined (white) noodles and bread, a decline in health begins.
If the assault on health continues, the function of the enzymes are affected. The sugar and carbohydrate is a burden on the digestive system—often there is not enough enzyme production to fully digest the carbohydrates. The undigested food irritates the lining of the small intestine, further damaging digestion. This results in a reduction of absorption of vitamins and minerals, an overgrowth of yeast (that release toxins) and a burden to the pancreas and insulin production. It also burdens the immune system.
As this situation continues the adrenal glands are stressed and their function is adversely affected. Also, because the sugar consumption forces the body to make insulin—the body begins to become insensitive to its own insulin.
As the adrenal and pancreas function, loss of nutrients, and the toxicity from the yeast overgrowth continue, many aspects of the body’s biochemistry go into decline. Formation of neurotransmitters, production of cellular energy, efficiency of the cells of the immune system, and other aspects of the body’s biochemistry go into decline. Cholesterol and triglyceride production increases. Until now there have been no definite symtoms
As the decline continues, physiologic performance is affected. The patient will not “feel right” but still nothing that can be diagnosed. As the decline continues, signs and symptoms develop: fatigue, insomnia, depression, frequent colds, PMS, ADD, joint pains, muscle aches or other symptoms. There may also be adult onset diabetes.
Infectious disease needs a relatively unhealthy body to find a home. The bubonic plague killed half of the people in Europe in the fourteenth century. That means the other half didn’t get the disease; they were healthier.
We say things like, “Yesterday I caught a cold.” That implies that everyone around you “missed” the cold. The germs, with Michael Jordan-like moves, faked right, spun left, avoiding everyone else and slam-dunked into you. At work, school or any place where a lot of people are together, there are people who are sick all of the time and there are people who are never sick. Do the germs keep missing the same people all of the time? Of course not, people who don’t get sick have better cell function, enzyme function, hormone function, immune system function and better overall health. Modern medicine is sickness oriented, so it tends to fight disease rather than to promote health.
Wouldn’t it be wise to treat your health before you developed a disease? If your car runs reasonably well and you take it to a mechanic, he doesn’t say, “There’s nothing wrong with your car, bring it to me when it doesn’t run.” A car has need of a mechanic, even when it is running. It needs regular maintenance to keep it running. The mechanic will change the oil and spark plugs in an otherwise “healthy” car. He doesn’t wait until the engine locks up from lack of oil.
Our immune systems are constantly under attack. Theron Randolph, MD firmly believed that the pollution of the environment and our constant exposure to chemicals is responsible for allergies and other immune system problems.
There is a real problem with the highly refined diet that many people eat. Consumption of refined sugar and refined carbohydrates can actually decrease the efficacy of white blood cells. Trans fats from hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated oils become incorporated into our cells, compromising their integrity, making easier for bacteria and viruses to invade.
Dysbiosis, heavy metals and increased intestinal permeability can all place demands on the immune system. Our goal is to eliminate that which stresses the immune system and to improve the function of the immune system.
Fortunately, you can do things to support your immune system. There are nutrients and herbs that will improve immune function. For many people, simple changes in diet work wonders in improving immune function.
Dietary / Lifestyle Guidelines:
- Avoid refined sugar and refined carbohydrate: Refined food actually decreases the effectiveness of immune cells.
- Avoid hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils: These will actually decrease the integrity of your cells, making them more prone to invasion.
- Eat dark colored produce: Red grapes are high in bioflavonoidswhich will enhance immune function. Fruits and vegetables contain bioflavonoids, antioxidants, vitamin C, carotenes and minerals, all of which help your immune system. Fiber in produce reduces stress on the digestive system and helps to bring dysbiosisunder control.
- Drink enough water: Your doctor will discuss water quality and quantity with you.
- Make sure that you are getting enough rest.
- Exercise(according to your doctor’s guidelines): There is one caveat, don’t exercise when you are fighting off an illness.
Supplementation: Often taking vitamins or herbs will assist an ailing immune system. Call us for a consultation to discuss this or any other health issue that you may have.