The discussion on human immunity has gained much fervor in recent years, and the current Covid19 situation has only increased the emphasis. It is predicted that the future of medicine lies in immunology, and answers to some of the most perplexing medical puzzles are being sought in the immune mechanism of the body. Hence, an insight into the immune system is mandatory.
What is immunity?
Immunity is the body’s ability to resist and fight off infections by virtue of its immune system in the form of antibodies and specialized immune cells. Immunity is of various types, depending on whether it is present by birth or acquired later in life. The classification of immune system is also based on the kind of response the infectious agent activates. Broadly speaking, this response can be cell-mediated or by the utilization of antibodies. Another classification is based on whether the body prepares antibodies by itself or is injected the same from an external source, pre-prepared. These types are known as active immunity and passive immunity, respectively.
Antigens and Antibodies
It is important to understand these terms. An antigen is any substance that activates the immune system to mount a response against it, thereby activating the body’s defense mechanism. An antigen may be internal or external. External, or foreign antigen, is one that is introduced into the body from the environment, e.g. pollen. An internal antigen, on the other hand, is one that comes from within the body. This defensive reaction to the body’s own antigen gives rise to a variety of auto-immune diseases.
An antibody is a protein produced in response to the antigen. Its prime function is to bind with the antigen and neutralize it.
Importance of Immunity
Immunity varies from person to person. An efficient immune system is vital for good health. It is important to foster a healthy immune system to be able to tackle the numerous infectious agents that one is exposed to, every day. People having poor immune systems are unable to resist most infectious agents and therefore fall sick frequently. As a result, their overall health suffers.
Immunity is significant for the proper growth and development of a child. Children with poor immunity contract infections at a much frequent rate. They routinely suffer from cold and cough that may even lead to fevers later. The net result is a decline in the health status of the child and a loss in school days. Such infections are highly communicable. They quickly spread from one person to another and hence schools become a center of infections. Children bring the infection home and this way an entire community may be affected.
Fevers and immunity
It is important to understand that fever, per se, is not an illness. It is merely a symptom. Also, it works as a defense mechanism of the body. During fever, internal temperature of the body is raised so that the infectious agents (bacteria, viruses, etc.) in the blood become inactivated or killed. However, frequent infections tender a person weak and exhausted. Hence, the ideal is to develop an immunity strong enough that the numerous infections encountered on a daily basis do not cause any illness to the body. A poor immune system makes a person prone to recurrent infections and hence, frequent fevers.
Developing a Strong Immunity
It is possible to develop a strong immunity by taking a healthy diet. Immune boosting foods must be included in the regular diet from a young age. Although a balanced diet is by far the most efficient, certain foodstuffs can be added particularly to boost immunity. Following are some of these:
- Meat and fish in moderate quantities help develop immunity.
- Papaya is an anti-inflammatory fruit rich in vitamins and fiber.
- Spinach and green vegetables are essential in the diet to keep a person healthy.
- Ginger and garlic are strong immune-boosting agents. They also possess anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger tea is very soothing and helpful for tackling infections. Herbs like tulsi, giloy, Echinacea may be added to the tea to enhance its benefits.
- Broccoli is an extremely useful vegetable. It is rich in vitamin A, C and E, and is also a powerful antioxidant.
- A pinch of turmeric may be added in foodstuffs as it has anti-inflammatory properties.
- The importance of citrus fruits in enhancing immunity cannot be overlooked. Oranges, lime, lemons are all rich in vitamin C and have a strong antioxidant response.
- Taking plenty of water and staying hydrated is also essential, but sadly often overlooked.
- A regular exercise routine helps the body to stay fit and enhances immunity over time. Yoga is also proven to make a person physically fitter and better resistant to infections.
Immunity and Homeopathy
The relationship between homeopathy and immunity is a special one. Since long it has been known that homeopathy helps improve immunity. It is even speculated that the mechanism of action of homeopathic remedies is immunological. Whether such is the case or not, it is an undeniable fact that regular use of homeopathic medicines strengthens the immune system by a considerable margin. Children brought up on homeopathic remedies rather than on allopathy have a stronger immunity and are better able to resist infections. Constitutional treatment carried out by the indicated homeopathic remedy is invaluable in boosting the immunity of a person.
There are various homeopathic medicines and formulations aimed specifically at boosting immunity. Schwabe India manufactures many such homeopathic remedies that help enhance and build up immunity in both children and adults. These medicines are also of use after an acute or exhausting illness when the immunity is low, and the body is weak. In such a post-illness exhaustion, these immune boosting remedies help in recovering faster and stronger. Some homeopathic immunity booster by Schwabe India are:
Alpha-WD: It helps prevent everyday infections, especially those of the recurrent respiratory variety. It promotes the efficient functioning of the lymphatic system, which is of vital importance in fighting infections. Alpha-WD is also helpful in promoting recovery after an exhausting illness. The medicine helps detoxify the body as well.
Munostim: Munostim is specially aimed at children and is a homeopathic immune booster. Repeated attacks of cold and cough in growing children can be efficiently controlled by this remedy. With frequent use the immune system of the child is strengthened, and she gradually becomes resistant to the onslaught of frequent infections. It helps to prevent disease and promote immunity.
Echinacea Angustifolia 1x: Echinacea is also an immune stimulant known since ancient time. It helps to tackle inflammation of lymphatics, blood infections, cold and flu infections, etc. It works to stimulate our defense mechanism in fighting with infections. It has also been seen to be valuable in anticancer therapy.
These remedies help to maintain a strong and efficient immune system. They are safe for intake by people of all age groups and indeed prove beneficial to all. No side effects or contra-indications have been reported. They are generally taken twice or thrice a day and continued for a few weeks at least. Regular use has proven to be highly beneficial.
Immunity is nature’s gift to mankind to remain infection resistant. A healthy diet from a young age, supported by immune-boosting homeopathic formulations, can help us to develop an active immune system and remain free of everyday infections.