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The immune system is your protection against foreign invaders (e.g., bacteria, viruses, parasites) – responsible for finding, recognizing and destroying what doesn’t belong in the body. The tissues that make up our immune system include: tonsils, thymus gland, lymph nodes, bone marrow, spleen, lymphatic tissue in the intestinal tract, and appendix. The “soldiers” of our immune system are our white blood cells, with the help of a number of other immune cells and substances (e.g., proteins that can increase or decrease inflammation, substances that can cause of a fever, etc.)

The immune system not only protects us from getting sick after an exposure to a virus or bacteria, but it also protects the body through inflammation when needed to promote the proper environment for tissue healing. A good example of this is the sore throat that occurs as a result of inflammation caused by the immune system in order to aid in the process of defeating a cold virus. Under circumstances where the body needs protection in a chronic manner, inflammation can become pathological. An example of this would be when an area of the stomach lining becomes inflamed continually when exposed to stomach acid leading to the formation of a stomach ulcer.

When not functioning properly, the immune system may also start to attack the wrong invaders, including substances inhaled from the air, ingested in our food, or absorbed through the skin. This can lead to allergic reactions, such as asthma, hayfever, food allergies, hives, eczema, etc.

The immune system can also mistakenly turn on the body, seeing a substance in the body as something that needs to be destroyed. This leads to autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, and juvenile diabetes.

Some of the symptoms of an under-functioning immune system:

  • Frequent cold and flu
  • Repeated infections (shingles, strep throat, etc.)
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Multiple food sensitivities
  • History of asthma or eczema
  • Hives and/or rashes
  • Slow wound healing

Naturopathic Treatment

Ensuring an optimally functioning immune system is an important part of most Naturopathic treatment protocols, both to strengthen your body’s ability to fight off external pathogens as well as ensure the immune system is responding appropriately and not attacking non-pathogenic substances or turning on the body itself. Your Naturopathic Doctor will look for the signs and symptoms of a dysfunctional immune system and provide individualized treatments as indicated.

Examples of Naturopathic Treatments:

  • Herbs and vitamins to strengthen and boost the immune system
  • Hydrotherapy techniques to increase circulation of immune cells
  • Anti-microbial herbs to kill viruses, bacteria and fungi
  • Ensure a healthy digestive tract to promote the health of the intestinal lymphatic tissue
  • Food sensitivity analysis to treat immune reactions to food substances
  • Homeopathy to treat the symptoms of hay fever
  • Acupuncture to expand the lungs in asthma and reduce pain in rheumatoid arthritis

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