Optimizing Immune Function

By Laura Daniels,2014-05-17 09:34
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Optimizing Immune Function

    Optimizing Immune Function

This is the time of year when family practice doctors and pediatricians see an increase in

    the number of office visits for colds, flu, sinus, and ear infections. Mother’s pray their

    children don’t bring home a new illness each week from school and/or daycare that will eventually run its course through the whole family. Unfortunately, many of the mothers,

    and even those of you in corporate America, are way too familiar with this scenario.

    Everyone scrambles about getting their flu vaccines, cramming anti-histamines, cough

    suppressants, and antibiotics down their throats as if our bodies were deficient in Zyrtec,

    Delsym, Benadryl, Allegra, Tylenol PM, Motrin, Amoxicillin, and a variety of other

    over-the-counter and prescription medications. Believe it or not, there are no receptors in

    the body originally designed for these medications. Another rare fact that seems to

    escape the attention of most doctors and their patients is that a cough, runny nose, fever,

    decreased appetite, mucus production and a host of other signs and symptoms are the

    body’s defense mechanisms against pathogens (bacteria, virus, and fungus). Mucus is

    produced to trap bacteria, fevers help make your body more in-hospitable to foreign

    invaders, coughs help expectorate mucus, etc. Unfortunately, when we get sick most

    people run to their local pharmacy for medications that have a tendency to shut down the

    body’s defense mechanisms ultimately prolonging their illness. Now, don’t get me

    wrong, I am not saying they should never be given. Rather, I just want you to understand

    why your body is producing these signs & symptoms. They can be very useful from

    time-to-time when used appropriately. For example, using these medications, especially

    at night, can be very helpful in ensuring you get a ‘good-nights’ sleep, something very

    important for your immune system. However, if you can minimize their use, especially

    during the day, it will go a long ways in helping your body do its job in eliminating the

    pathogen in a more timely fashion. Are you aware there are multiple studies showing

    that Otitis Media (ear infection) usually resolves within 10 days whether taking an

    antibiotic or not??? Again, I am not against antibiotics being given when needed but it is

    my opinion that they are WAY over used in this country. There are particular situations

    where they are very helpful such as a child who wakes screaming in the night due to ear

    pain. Studies tell us that he/she would probably recover in 10 days with or without the

    antibiotic, but almost every mother can tell you how quickly an antibiotic can help

    (sometimes within 24 hours) and as a parent, I would not want to have my child in pain

    for 10 days (helpful hint Chamomile 30c and Belladonna 30c are common homeopathic

    remedies that can also alleviate ear pain quickly). However, are there things we can do

    from a natural medicine point of view to enhance the immune system to help prevent

    colds, flu, sinus infections, ear infections, etc? Answer: Yes, there is a tremendous

    amount that can be done. Here are my top 10 recommendations (in no particular order)

    for preventing illness in you and your family: 1 Minimize consumption of sugar or

    other sweeteners. Keep your total intake of sugar less than 50 grams/day (ideally less

    than 25 grams). Studies have been done showing that neutrophil (60-70% of our white

    blood cell count) activity is reduced by half with consumption of 100grams of sugar in

    any form (orange juice, honey, table sugar, and fructose). The average American

    consumes 175 grams/day of sugar. No wonder Americans lead the world in chronic

    disease we are all walking around with depressed immune systems. Also avoid

    artificial sweeteners like the plague (sucralose/splenda, aspartame/NutraSweet, etc) for a

    multitude of reasons we won’t get into with this article. 2 – Minimize your consumption of commercially prepared dairy products. The number of ear, sinus, and upper

    respiratory infections are dramatically reduced in those who minimize and/or reduce the

    consumption of these foods in their diet. Try alternative sources such as almond, rice,

    potato, or soy products. 3 Exercise the benefits of exercise on the immune system

    are amazing. Remember, your lymphatic system is the heart of your immune system

    (think lymph nodes) and guess what moves/circulates your lymph? That’s right –

    muscular activity. So get the whole family outside for nightly walks. Fifteen to twenty

    minute walks after dinner can make a HUGE difference in your family’s health. 4 –

    Make sure your whole family is on a high-quality, age appropriate multi-vitamin &

    mineral formula. These formulas contain the cofactors your immune system needs to

    optimally function. Please buy high quality supplements through doctor’s offices or

    local health food stores who specialize in carrying high quality supplements. Remember,

    you get what you pay for! 5 Take essential fatty acids. I rank these in my top four

    panaceas or ‘cure alls’ (things we should all be doing): ? your body weight (in ounces)

    per day of purified water, exercise, 5-10 servings of fruits & veggies, and essential fatty

    acids. The word ‘essential’ is used in describing these fats because our bodies cannot

    make them. They are critical for optimal immune function. Two excellent sources are:

    high quality fish oil supplement and/or freshly ground flax seed (or high quality oil). 6

    Extra antioxidants like vitamin C, E, beta carotene, & zinc. All four of these are VERY

    IMPORTANT for the immune system and even better in combination together. 7 The

    homeopathic remedy Oscillicoccinum 200c. This is a top seller in European countries

    and works really well to prevent and/or shorten the course of colds & flu, especially when

    given at the onset of symptoms. 8- Dolivaxil a product by Dolisos that works very well at preventing the flu. It is homeopathy’s healthy version of a ‘flu vaccine’. I would

    prefer this over the conventional flu vaccine any day of the week. It does not contain the

    toxic preservative Thimerosol (mercury) and has little to no side effects. 9 Diet Eat a

    LOT of fruits & vegetables. Eat them at every meal and eat a lot of blueberries,

    blackberries, and raspberries. Fruits, veggies, and especially berries are full of

    antioxidants, bioflavonoids, and thousands of other phyto-chemicals that enhance our

    immune systems and also have natural anti-histamine and/or anti-inflammatory effects.

    10 Take one or more of the following (or preferentially a product that contains all three)

    standardized botanical extracts (from a reputable source): Echinacea, Astragalus, and

    Elderberry - at low dosages for 3 weeks on & 1 week off. If you get sick or feel

    something coming on, increase the dosages under the supervision of a physician. All

    three of these products are excellent for the cold & flu season. Elderberry is especially

    nice for children because it has a very pleasant taste and some anti-histamine properties.

    All three are anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and to some degree anti-fungal. Those with auto-

    immune conditions should avoid Echinacea.

    Dr. Michael Brown D.A.N! Doctor Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine Integrative Medicine Specialist Physician's Choice - Natural Medicine Clinic & Pharmacy 11240 Strangline Rd Lenexa, Ks 66215 913-498-0005 913-754-0875 fax

Dr. Brown is in private practice at Physician’s Choice A Natural Medicine Pharmacy &

    Clinic in Lenexa, Ks. He specializes in an integrative, natural medicine approach to a

    variety of acute & chronic conditions including: ADD/ADHD, ASD, anti-aging and

    detoxification programs, irritable bowel conditions, headaches/migraines, PMS,

    menopause, healthy weight loss, and a variety of other conditions. He has a monthly

    workshop entitled ‘Wellness, Anti-Aging, and Rejuvenation Workshop’ with a slightly

    different emphasis each month. I.e. ‘Optimizing Immune Function’ – Feb 18th. Please

    call 913-498-0005 and/or visit web site at for additional


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