Conventional medicine battles diseases directly by means of drugs, surgery, radiation and other therapies. But true health can only be attained by maintaining a healthy, properly functioning immune system.
It is the immune system that fights off diseases and starts the healing process. The immune system is the key to healing the smallest cut or scrape to a serious viral disease. Even aging may have more to do with the immune system than the passage of time. A weakened immune system results in increased susceptibility to virtually every type of disease.
By understanding some of the basic elements of the immune system and how they work, you can take responsibility for your own health. In its simplest terms, the task of the immune system is to identify those things that naturally belong in the body and those that are foreign or harmful material and then to neutralize or destroy the foreign material. The immune system is unlike other bodily systems in that it is not a group of physical structures but a system of complex interactions involving many different organs, structures and substances. Among them are white blood cells, bone marrow, the lymphatic vessels and organs, specialized cells found in various body tissues and specialized substances, called serum factors, that are present in the blood. Ideally, all of these components should work together to protect the body against infection and disease.
The immune system has the ability to learn to identify and then to remember, specific antigens that have been encountered. It does this through two basic means, known as cell-mediated immunity and humoral immunity. In cell mediated immunity, white blood cells called T lymphocytes identify and then destroy cancerous cells, viruses and microorganisms like bacteria and fungi. The T lymphocytes, or T cells, mature in the thymus gland(hence the "T" designation). The thymus, a small gland located behind the top of the breastbone, is a major gland of the immune system. In the thymus, each T cell is programmed to identify one particular type of invading enemy. Not all T cells make a successfull passage through the thymus.
Those whose programming is imperfect are eliminated. The ones that do make it are released into the bloodstream to search out and destroy antigens that correspond to their programming. They attack the antigens in part through the secretion of proteins called cytodines. Inerferon is one of the better known 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 thir specific antigens, antibdies either damage the invasive cells or alert the white blood cells to attaack. 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 blue-print of the invader so that it can initiate the production of antibodies in case of subsequent exposure, even if a long period of time elapses in between.
For this system to work, each B cell must come into existence prepared to produce an almost infinite variety of different anitbodies, so that it can match whatever antigen it is presented with.
As a result, any B cell is capable of producing an antibody molecule to match virtually any foreign invader. It is the phenomenon of humoral immunity that makes immunization possible.
Because of their crucial role in all aspects of immunity-both cell-mediated and humoral-white blood cells are considered the body's first line of defense. White blood cells are larger than red blood cells. In addition, they can move independently in the blood stream and are able to pass through the cell walls. This enables them to travel quickly to the site of an injury or infection.
Regardless if it has been damaged as a result of disease, stress, inadequate nutrition, poor living habits, chemotherapy, or a combination of one or more of these factors.
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Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products and information contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases or, medical problems. It is not intended to replace your doctor's recommendations. The information is provided for educational purposes only. Nutritional benefits may vary from one person to another.