Living in a World of Micro-organisms – How YOU can put up a fight!
We are constantly exposed to a range of micro-organisms on a daily basis for our entire life. Some can cause harm whilst others remain dormant and have no health concerns to the host (human).
We are so fortunate that our immune system continuously attempts to protect us against bacterial and viral invasion. A series of events takes place on a cellular level to mount a response and defend us against unwanted pathogens.
The all too familiar global outbreak of SARS-Cov-2 – (Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (also known as COVID-19)) has seen a rise in health awareness and, as I have seen across social media and in the local community, a general desire to know more about how we can support and strengthen our own immune system in the event of exposure.
I believe that knowledge of how we ‘as humans’ are able to support our ‘inbuilt’ protective immune mechanisms has not been communicated effectively by mainstream media nor has it been easily accessible to gain this knowledge.
Therefore, I hope I can shed some light, and will try to keep it simple! which is hard with our complex immune system, but I will do my best to share human biological immune response to micro-organisms.
What actually is a Virus?
Viruses are considered as intracellular microbes that require their host to replicate themselves and to facilitate their spread to others.
Defence against viruses by the human host (us) involves multiple immune steps and the influence of each mechanism can vary greatly according to the virus type and how it enters the body, how it replicates and how it spreads inside a cell.
Viruses can become more dangerous when they undergo change, for instance, in the case of species alteration/mutation or antigen change or when a host ‘immunity is compromised or weakened’.
Respiratory infections caused by influenza viruses, rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, are often spread by airborne transmission as well as person-to-person contact. After viral exposure the virus attaches to cellular receptors and may fuse with the cell membrane to gain entry. The virus then uses the host cell’s own specialised encoded proteins to replicate rapidly inside the cell.
Virus has entered – what’s next?
STEP 1 : INNATE IMMUNITY “Pathogen Recognition”
The human host’ defence system is ignited to either block or inhibit the ‘initial infection’. The aim in this step of our amazing immune defence is to protect cells from further progression or to eliminate the infected cells.
This initial process, in general, serves the host to slow the infection down rather than stopping it.
Main Concepts of Step 1
- RECOGNITION OF ANTIGEN
- BLOCK INFECTION
- PROTECT CELLS FROM INFECTION
- DESTROY OR INHIBIT VIRUS-INFECTED CELLS
- HELP REGULATE ANTIVIRAL ANTI-INFLAMMATORY RESPONSES
STEP 2 : ADAPTIVE IMMUNITY “Anti-bodies and T-Cells”
Initiation of this step via the host’ Adaptive Immune response. The antibodies created during recognition of the virus from Step 1 gains momentum in Step 2 of the process to further enhance host cellular defence mechanisms.
The aim is to bind immune cells to the free viral particles and block further infection, whilst specific T-cells act to recognise this action and begin to destroy those cells identified as infected by the virus.
WOW! we are amazing aren’t we?! – keep reading ……
Adaptive Immunity has a primary feature to enhance ‘immunological memory and protection against re-infection’.
Main Components of Step 2
T-CELLS = function to reduce infection at time of invasion inside the cell and help reduce immune pathology and support antibody responses.
B-CELLS = help to increase production of antibodies and provide memory.
ANTIVIRAL ANTIBODY = produced to support an additional barrier against re-infection.
NATURAL THERAPEUTIC METHODS
My aim for you and all my clients as a Natural Medicine Practitioner is to support the host’s immune function in 3 main areas:
- Boost natural immune defences and/or restore immune balance
- Reduce risk of re-occurrence
- Help to modulate the inflammatory response and manage existing dysfunction.
- NOTE: T-Cell function is influenced by nutrient uptake into cells, therefore, existing nutritional status of an individual, their weight, sleep patterns and stress levels needs to be assessed.
YOU CAN START WITH FOOD….
- Begin to increase your intake of immune system supporting foods -(unless you have a known food allergy or intolerance) such as: garlic, citrus, dark green leafy vegetables, kiwi fruit, mushrooms, berries, broccoli, ginger, onion, capsicum, bone broth, prebiotic foods like kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut, adequate fibre intake and antioxidant rich!
Speak with me professionally to assess your individual needs for nutrition supplementation – (self prescription is not ideal) some examples are: Vitamin A (retinol), Vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin D, Quercetin, Resveratrol, N-acetyl-Cysteine, Sulforaphane. (See below links to some scientific data)
Speak with me professionally to determine the need for Herbal Medicine – enabling enhancement, stimulation and/or modulation of your individual immune processes – (some will be good as prevention, maintenance of immune function, whilst others are better to treat either acute onset of symptoms or chronic immune states) – e.g. Echinacea angustifolia / purpurea, Andrographis paniculata, Sambucus nigra, Astragalus membranaceous, Uncaria tormentosa, Medicinal mushrooms.
MY TOP 3 IMMUNE SUPPORT NUTRIENTS
A 2017 meta-analysis of data from 25 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of vitamin D supplementation for the prevention of acute respiratory infections (ARIs) revealed a protective effect of this intervention.
Despite evidence of significant heterogeneity across trials, vitamin D supplementation was safe and overall reduced the risk of ARI compared with placebo.
Research available at:
Zinc is essential to preserve natural tissue barriers such as the respiratory epithelium, preventing pathogen entry, for a balanced function of the immune system and the redox system, zinc deficiency can probably be added to the factors predisposing individuals to infection
The importance of the trace element zinc for the development and function of the immune system across all kinds of species has been proven in numerous studies
Research available at:
Vitamin A metabolite retinoic acid (RA) plays important roles in cell growth, differentiation, organogenesis, and reproduction and a key role in mucosal immune responses.
Indeed, after the absorption and metabolization of vitamin A into RA in the gut, RA plays critical roles in the mucosal immune response as a regulatory signal in the intestinal mucosa.
Retinoids act as effectors of the T‐cell‐mediated adaptive immunity and innate immune responses through stimulation of NK cells, antigen‐presenting dendritic cells (DCs) and innate lymphoid cells.
Research available at:
Thank you for taking the time to read this BLOG – Go to BOOK NOW on and gain individualised support. I’d love to help you reach your health goals, Fiona xx