How Your Body Heals Itself - Knowledge is power!
The more you know about how your body works, the better able you are to make the choices necessary to enhance both the quantity and quality of your life!
Our bodies will naturally function at its optimum level when it is provided with the requirements of health. These requirements can be conveniently classified into four general categories:
a diet of whole natural foods (some believe it should be plant-based) that meets your individual nutritional needs;Environment –
getting fresh air, pure water, and appropriate sunshine, and avoiding environmental stressors such as air and water pollution, and excess exposure to dust, pollen, chemicals, and noise;Activity –
engaging in regular aerobic exercise and getting adequate rest and sleep; andPsychology –
engaging in productive activity and developing the interpersonal social skills necessary for a successful life.A common misconception:
When the above are provided in a consistent period; the self-healing mechanisms of the body attempt to restore and/or optimize health. Your body’s ability to do this is only limited by your inherent constitution (genetics) and the amount of use and abuse that has taken place.
Hygienic physicians have always emphasized that health and disease are not antagonists. Our bodies use mechanisms such as diarrhoea, fever, and inflammation naturally, in an attempt to regain optimum health. Actions to suppress these adaptive and eliminative processes with drugs and other invasive treatment are known to create problems by interfering with the body’s self-healing mechanisms.
It is important that you know how extraordinarily capable and complex your immune system is.
Your body is constantly exposed to chemicals, toxins, pollutants, and other stressors. In addition, simple organisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites are capable (under certain circumstances) of invading the human body and using it as a source of nourishment. Fortunately, the healthy human body has defences against invasion by these organisms. These defences are what make up our immune system.
First let’s take a look at the non-specific parts of the immune system. This division of the immune system, includes the skin, mucus, cilia and phagocyte can take care of many infections and potential infections.
The largest organ in the human body is not the heart or liver; it is the skin. The skin and its components can be considered our first line of defence. Most potentially disease causing organisms and agents are prevented from interfering with normal function because of the barrier that the skin creates.
Another non-specific defence mechanism is the mucous membrane which can be found in the openings into the body, such as the mouth and nose. This membrane can secrete various substances and is usually moist. In these moist secretions are other defence mechanisms, including chemicals such as lysozyme and C reactive protein, which can kill invading bacteria.
Mucous itself can trap invading organisms, and cilia (little hair-like projections in the lungs, bronchi, and throat) can push those invaders back out of the body as long as they are working properly. It has been shown that in tobacco and marijuana smokers the cilia become paralyzed and destroyed. This is one of the reasons that smokers have such an increased incidence of respiratory and other infections.
The acid in the stomach, vagina, and other organs also can act as part of the non-specific immune system by creating an environment in which potentially invasive organisms cannot survive.
Another of non-specific part of the immune system are the phagocytic or “cell-eating” cells. These phagocytes can gobble up and destroy most invading organisms. Phagocytes are a type of white blood cell found in the bloodstream as well as in various organs such as the lungs, liver, and intestinal tract.
When these phagocytes malfunction in people they tend to recurrent infections. This is commonly due to poor health practices which overwhelm the ability of the phagocyte to act. Smoking, for example, in addition to paralyzing cilia, can kill “macrophages”, the phagocytes that live in the lungs.
Natural born killers
Another type of white blood cell, called the “natural killer” cell, can recognise cells that have been invaded by viruses. The killer cells can bind to these infected cells and destroy them. Cells that are infected by viruses help the killer cells by producing chemicals called interferons, which activate the killer cells.
The body also is capable of producing special proteins during an infection. These proteins coat the invading organisms, especially certain bacteria, and make it easier for the phagocytes to destroy them; but this only works if the immune system can identify them.
When an infection or injury takes place, the body produces a reaction called inflammation. Inflammation is like a flag to the immune system it consists of three parts-increased blood supply to the infected area; increased permeability of the small blood vessels permitting large molecules to leave the bloodstream and reach the infection; and increased migration of phagocytes toward the site of infection. Inflammation causes the infected area to look red, become swollen, and feel hot and painful.
Your specific immune system
Fortunately, the immune system has another division called the adaptive, or specific, division. Unlike the non-specific division, the specific division of the immune system is capable of producing particles called antibodies.
These tiny antibodies have two ends. One is a receptor that can recognize a specific organism or substance; the other end is a marker that fits in the general receptors of the phagocytes. When an antibody attaches its specific end to an invading organism or foreign substance, it tags the invader in such a way that the phagocytes of the non-specific division of the immune system can recognize and destroy it.
The antibodies made by the specific division of the immune system are produced by white blood cells called B lymphocytes. B lymphocytes come in thousands of varieties, each capable of recognizing one specific marker or antigen.
Mother’s little helpers
In addition to the B lymphocytes that produce antibodies, there is another important kind of lymphocyte Cell-T lymphocytes or T cells. T cells come in several varieties-helper, killer, suppressor, memory and others.
Helper T cells, like B cells are very specific, having specific receptors for specific invaders. It is the helper T cells that are in charge of the complicated chemical signalling system that tells the B cells what to do and initiates the production of killer T cells.
I know that some of this information contains some unusual words, but it is important to have an understanding of how your immune system works. It is especially useful to know that the number of antibodies in your blood tells you if your immune system is in overdrive and reacting to things that are not a threat.
The main way that Autoimmune diseases are identified is with a high antibody count and so could be an important way to put a label on why you don’t feel well. We are fortunate that we possess such a complex and efficient immune system that functions at its highest level when we conscientiously create the right environment for it to function.
Your health is very precious. Take the steps necessary to protect and preserve it. Remember, you are the only one you’ve got.
Sources for this article include: