2009-10-23 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

Immunity
Commentary By Dr. Nancy Gahles

DR. NANCY GAHLES DR. NANCY GAHLES Diseases that appear at certain times of the year are called seasonal. We have been hearing much about the seasonal flu recently. An interesting fact is that the seasonal flus that occur in both October and February correspond to the time when the sunlight is at its lowest. Thus, flurries of research are coming to our attention about the efficacy of Vit. D3, the sunlight vitamin, in both duration and severity of influenza, particularly in children, a most susceptible population. This type of immunity is defined as the state of being susceptible to a particular disease. If this is your case, this is easily correctable. A simple blood test, 25 - (OH), will tell you if your Vit. D3 levels are too low, in which case, supplementation is a natural remedy.

You may be susceptible for other reasons and so it is important for you to look back at your health history and remember when you last had the flu and under what circumstances. If you are susceptible because you have one or more chronic health conditions, particularly respiratory issues, then it is time for you to have a consultation with your primary care physician to discuss the best options for you to increase your resistance to flu and to build your state of health in general.

Immunity can also be conferred upon an individual through natural or ac - quired resistance to a disease. There are some people who simply never fall prey to a flu. It is in their genetic makeup to resist this disease. This type of natural resistance is known to run in families. Acquired resistance means that you have had the flu before and are now immune to getting it again. Ac - quired resistance can also be attained when you are one of a large number of persons who have been vaccinated against a particular strain of the flu. The herd effect provides the protection of the vaccine to those who have not been vaccinated. This may be good news for those Moms who have told me that if they chose not to have their child vaccinated, their children were not allowed to play with the other children for fear that they would be contaminated.

Immunity also describes the ability of a cell to react immunologically in the presence of an antigen and mount its own defense. One may get symptoms at the initial exposure and then respond appropriately by raising the temperature of the body to kill off the invading virus or bacteria. The fever is an essential element. There is a pervasive belief system that promotes the idea that one must squelch a fever at first sign. We have not been educated in the facts of the benefits of a fever. We do know that a temperature of 102 degrees is necessary to kill a virus. This is uncomfortable for the person and there are many interventions that will relieve the discomfort such as simple tepid baths along with elderberry in tea, tincture or tablets. Forewarned is forearmed, so I always suggest that you have a conversation with your doctor about fevers, the way in which you or your child tend to express a fever and how to manage it. When the situation arises you are then capable of making informed decisions and avoid the middle of the night panic that often results from a spiking temperature.

Immunity is mediated through the nervous system. Our bodies are both complex and simple. On the one hand, the interconnected whole system is a miraculously fine tuned one. We are aware of only our breath and the rest of the functions are going on behind the scenes flawlessly, in most cases. On the other hand, the body is simple in that it responds to reasonable measures to keep it in harmonious operation. Eating wholesome foods, getting the proper amount of sleep, exercising the body, breathing fully and consciously, managing stressful situations and participating in nurturing relationships.

The nervous system is delicately balanced through the fine tuning of the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems. These are directly impacted by the musculoskeletal system. The spine, the center of our weight bearing mechanism, is frequently the most neglected. One doesn't usually think of maintaining the spine unless you are old and creaky or have a painful back injury. Nonetheless, modern science tells us that immunity is a function of a well maintained spine. That is, a spine kept in proper alignment increases immunity. Studies have shown this effect through measuring serum thiol levels of patients who have been under regular chiropractic care. Serum thiol is a marker of DNA repair, an indicator of ongoing immune function.

A most recent study reported that chiropractic adjustments increased pul - mon ary function. (http://www.chiro practicpediatricresearch.netwww.chiropracticpediatricresearch.net/ >). This is an important consideration for people, especially children, who are at highest risk for the respiratory com plications of influenza.

It makes eminent good sense to remain informed of the basic healthy habits that you can begin to make a part of your lifestyle to enhance your immunity and feel hopeful not helpless.

Integrative healthcare is fast becoming the model for physicians to follow. It is mentioned in the Senate HELP bill to be included in the medical home model. Integrative healthcare emphasizes the patient-centric approach, one that recognizes the individuality of each person in the management of her or his healthcare. The combined knowledge of conventional, traditional and CAM healing disciplines is the objective so as to effect the safest, most effective, gentle return to wellness. CAM, Complementary and Alternative Providers, are chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists and homeopaths among others. For a complete listing go to http://nc cam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam .

Conferring immunity from disease is only one piece of the complex puzzle of wellness. Achieving and maintaining a state of peace and happiness is the actual acquisition of health. This re - quires personal responsibility for the outcome and it demands the teamwork of professionals that will work in your best interest.

May The Blessings Be!

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