The Many Roles of the Immune System

The Many Roles of the Immune System

Most people tend to think of their immune system in terms of protection against a cold or flu. In actuality, the importance of your immune system is much greater. Our immunity plays an immense role in the quality and length of our lives.

For example, proper immune function is key if we want to prevent the whole host of auto-immune disorders which have been on the rise recently. These include Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, MS, Psoriasis, Chron’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Thyroid issues, and more. Many of these conditions are lethal, and all play a significant role in how we interact with our world on a day to day basis.

The immune system is also in charge of cleaning the body of cancer cells. We all are constantly producing cancer cells, and whether or not they are allowed to become a significant issue is determined by the immune system’s ability to clean up these rogue cells.

If your immune system stopped functioning, you could potentially be eaten alive. Nothing would exist within you to stop the invasion of bacteria, fungus, parasites, etc. Thankfully the immune system is more than just a couple of warriors standing at the gate of a castle…we would be in trouble if that was the case…a few good blows and all protection down and out! It is actually quite a big and complex system that would require more space than available here to explain.

This also means that there isn’t one magical pill, exercise, or treatment that will improve your immune system. It is not as simple as taking a vitamin D supplement to increase your vitamin D levels. The immune system is affected by many factors. A holistic view that focuses on looking at the system as a whole, and removes the barriers to its optimal functioning is what is needed.

Early in my career I had the amazing opportunity to apprentice with Dr. Tao Xie at a clinic in Boston that specialized in the treatment of patients with immune disorders (including HIV/AIDS). Dr. Tao has as much experience as anyone in the west treating patients with autoimmune and immunodeficiency disorders with Chinese Medicine. During the two years I worked with him I was able to learn his highly effective approach for treating the immune system. According to Dr. Tao, to benefit the immune system, we need to focus on three important keys: “circulation management”, “digestion management”, and “emotion management”. During this time I saw many patients treated with this approach experience radical changes in their CD4 score (a blood test that measure number of immune cells and immune function), as well as the symptoms they experienced (chronic infections, fatigue, etc.). The most exciting part is that this approach works extremely well for many different types of immune dysfunction, whether the condition be mild, moderate, or severe.

Stay tuned in the months to come as we go into more detail as to what these three points of management mean for you and your quality of life.

Author
Adam Learner, L Ac. Adam Learner, LAc, provides functional medicine and acupuncture for the residents of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, at Family Acupuncture & Wellness. In his practice, he uses a holistic approach to medicine and emphasizes addressing causes, not symptoms.

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