Creative Eldering: Energizing Your Immune System
Though most people are familiar with the basic concept of the immune system, its complexity remains a great mystery to most people, even some medical doctors. The human immune system includes a network of “fighter cells” and organs. T-cells (thymus cells) and B-cells (bone marrow or bursa cells) work to maintain a healthy immune system. The thymus, spleen, tonsils, and appendix are the main organs that contribute to maintaining strong immune system function. Other important components of the immune system include your bone marrow and lymphatic system. When these cells and organs are functioning well, your immune system remains strong and can fight off most disease. In order to discover how your individual immune system functions, Clinical Kinesiology can be used to evaluate individual immune function in general, and even specific organs. A skilled person can also find factors that suppress and compromise immune function. Finally, you can determine immunity supportive methods including dietary changes, detoxification techniques, and use of herbal and immune “boosting” supplements. Your natural health care provider can identify alternative modalities that support a strong and healthy immune system.
The “movable” parts of your immunes system are comprised of many different types of white blood cells called lymphocytes. You can consider the specialized white blood cells, T-cells, in your body to be the soldiers of your immune system’s army. T-cells may seek out and destroy harmful organisms that have invaded your body, or they may act as “directors” that identify invaders and encourage the production of other immunity cells. B-cells, your immune system’s beta cells, act as guards capable of producing potent weapons called anti-bodies. Your antibodies attach to foreign substances within your body and neutralize them. One of the most interesting cellular responses that occurs after an “invasion” takes place after the infection has been “conquered.” Memory cells are produced during the initial stages of “battle” and circulate in your blood stream and lymph nodes for years in order to assist your body in responding more quickly to any similar repeated attacks or infections.
Your immune system’s stationary organ components include the thymus gland, thyroid gland, lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils, and appendix. The thymus gland is located under your sternum, while your thyroid gland is located in the front of your throat. Your lymph nodes are found in multiple places throughout your body including both sides of your neck, your groin area and in each armpit. Lymphatic tissue is also found in the tonsils located at the back of your throat, in your appendix found in the lower right quadrant of your abdomen, and in your spleen located in the left upper quadrant of your abdomen. Each of these organs are responsible for either the production of your immune supporting cells, or a “barracks” area for them to gather and wait in before being called to active duty.
In order to determine the strength of your immune system function, you or your trusted healthcare practitioner can use Clinical Kinesiology muscle testing to examine your current and past health concerns. One of the most effective means of immune system evaluation can be obtained testing how the immune system reacts to copper. To perform this simple test, designed by Dr. Burt Espy, you will need to obtain a small piece of copper (easily obtained at your local hardware store). You can hold the piece of copper in one hand and use one of your arms or legs to self-test. A weak muscle response indicates an imbalance in your immune system. Your natural healthcare provider can further test and evaluate the function of individual components of your immune system; such as your thymus gland, tonsils, spleen, lymph nodes, etc.
Muscle Testing Procedure (from Pages xvii-xviii in Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition by Dr. Susan L. Levy; you may also refer to illustrations on pages 15,16 and 17)
• Sit in a comfortable and sturdy chair.
• Remember to maintain a neutral state of mind.
• Perform an “indicator muscle test”* to determine your baseline strength by pushing on your dominant arm with your other hand. If you can easily resist moderate pressure, rest and then proceed.
• In order to test a food, supplement or similar item, you can place the item in your hand, lap or pocket and test for compatibility using the same format as the indicator muscle test. – If your body responds with a “strong” muscle test, you know that the food or supplement is compatible with your body. – If you find a “weak” muscle test in which your arm is easily pushed downward, you should avoid the food or other item.
* Indicator Muscle Test
To perform an indicator muscle test, or test your arm’s strength, hold one arm straightforward at shoulder height, parallel to the floor. Place the outstretched fingers on the other hand just slightly above the wrist of your testing arm. Keep the palm and fingers of the testing hand flat, just resting above the other wrist, not clutching it. Firmly hold the testing arm stationary as you then push down or toward the floor with the other (the pushing) hand. If you want to test yourself for compatibility with a food or supplement hold the item in your testing hand (the straight arm), or place it in your pocket. You should be able to discern between a weak and a strong muscle response. I strongly advise doing several practice tests to get the feel of the process.
If you find that your immune system is not functioning optimally, there are a variety of healthy and natural means you can include in your everyday life to energize it. You can include food items or supplements rich in vitamins A, B, C and E, selenium, zinc, manganese, inositol, iron, and probiotics. If a nutrient rich diet proves inefficient or if you need an extra boost, consider a variety of herbal supplements, including Echinacea and Astragulas, to offer your body and immune system extra support.
The next step to take for building a healthy immune system is to eliminate environmental toxins to the greatest extent possible. This includes cigarette smoke, pesticides, vapors and chemical fumes from cleaning supplies and other household items.
There are also many alternative therapies that can increase your immune system function. Acupuncture can stimulate and energize the various organs involved with your immune system. Massage, chiropractic adjustments, aquatic exercise therapy, and Qi Gong can also help to stimulate and boost your immune system. By having a better understanding of how your immune system operates and the basics of its function, you can easily incorporate various means to strengthen and maintain it.
If you have ever suffered from an ailment from the common cold to an auto-immune disease, you are well aware of how debilitating a compromised immune system can be. When you feel good physically, you are more likely to feel good mentally and emotionally. (W)holistically caring for your body helps to maintain optimal, whole being health and wellness. Begin by optimizing your immune system today with healthy lifestyle choices.