By Dr. Giorgia Baraldo, Biologist and R&D Product Specialist at NATURALSALUS

The best way to fight and eliminate any kind of infection be it viral or bacterial is to keep our immune system efficient and ready to face any eventualities.
The best path to achieve this is a multifactorial one. Ranging from proper nutrition to optimal stress management, or the intake of vitamins (C and D in particular), antioxidants, immune modulants and stimulants.

Immune System, what is it?

The Immune System as a whole is made up of a complex integrated network of three basic components that generate the Immune Defences needed by the body:
– organs;
– the cells;
– chemical mediators.

Organs such as the spleen, thymus, lymph nodes, tonsils and appendix and lymphatic tissues are located in different parts of the body. We can sub group them into:

  • primary lymphatic organs (the bone marrow and, in the case of T lymphocytes, the thymus) in which leukocytes (white blood cells) grow and mature;
  • secondary lymphatic organs that exhibit reticular architecture suitable for trapping foreign material present in blood (spleen), lymph (lymph nodes), air (tonsils and adenoids), and food and water;
  • isolated cells found in blood and tissues: the main ones are called white blood cells or leukocytes.

How the immune system works

There are two phases during the immune system’s response: the A-SPECIFIC response and the SPECIFIC response. In most cases, the a-specific response already succeeds in counteracting numerous pathogens on a daily basis. Leading to mild symptoms or no symptom at all. On the other hand, infections that are more serious this is not enough and therefore requires the specific immune response. The specific response is TARGETED to a specific pathogen is slower, but once triggered leads to resolving the infection.
Let’s take a step by step look at what happens at the moment a pathogen enters our body. A-SPECIFIC RESPONSE: the first responders are macrophages acting as our constantly active safety bodyguards. Macrophages have the task of RECOGNIZING the pathogen and phagocytizing it and then quickly eliminating it. The macrophage WARNS the other nearby macrophages, which then intervene on mass, triggering an inflammatory process. The moment the macrophages fail to stop the infection they alert (via a chemotactic signal to the endothelium) the GRANULOCYTES. Granulocytes specifically encapsulate the hotspot by trying to prevent or at least slow the spread of the pathogen into the surrounding tissue. They also carry out the task of presenting the specific antigen of the pathogen thus stimulating T and later B lymphocytes to produce specific antibodies. SPECIFIC RESPONSE: T and B lymphocytes perform different functions during this phase. B lymphocytes are responsible for producing antibodies that bind to the antigens of the pathogen, preventing it from damaging human cells any further. At different stages of the disease these cells produce different types of antibodies, through which we are able to characterize the progress of the immune response. In lymphocytes we roughly distinguish between two types of cells, the so-called T4 (CD4) and T8 (CD8). T4 lymphocytes have the task of presenting the antigens to other lymphocytes and thus play an informant role. Finally, T8-type lymphocytes have the task of finding and destroying cells infected with the pathogen and therefore malfunctioning. The specific reaction is set up by the immune system during a bacterial or viral infection.

How best to boost the immune system: an invaluable phytotherapy support

In order for this to take place quickly and efficiently, a “proper” diet rich in vitamins, trace elements (enzyme activators) and minerals is paramount.

Stress must also be kept “under control” so that the amount of circulating “free radicals” is limited and thus counteracted by our antioxidant systems, so that they do not enter a chronic inflammatory state that obviously results in a weakening of the entire system.

Unfortunately, however, our diets are not always sufficient in providing it, so it is necessary to supplement it by taking specific phytotherapeutics. Be careful, however, to choose only supplements that provide vitamins sourced by natural plants. In fact, synthetic vitamins do not have the same beneficial effects.

For example, VITAMIN C is now widely recognized as very important, both as an antioxidant and for stimulating our immune system. If we want it in sufficient quantities and naturally sourced, there are two plants that stand out: ACEROLA and ROSE HIP. We can add actives that have direct antiviral and antibacterial properties, such as the pathogen countering actions of ELDERBERRY FRUITS. Alternatively, there is ECHINACEA, which has always been used as a “natural antibiotic” directly stimulating our immune systems. ASTRAGALUS stimulates macrophages and NK making our specific systems active and reactive, helping decrease our immune system’s reaction times and accelerate healing. LAPACHO has a very important antibacterial action. Finally, the distinctively flavoured GINGER that strongly stimulates the immune system and thanks to its properties aids the absorption of other plants ingested at the same time.

Quick recovery after the immune system battle

A pathological condition can also increase our inflammatory state, plus the amount of circulating free radicals. So be it preventative or recovering from the flu, it is a good idea to make use of specific antioxidants.

Countering free radicals to detoxify the body

It is possible to take plants rich in antioxidants to rapidly counter free radicals, enabling us to get rid of them and prevent excessive build up in our organs and tissues.

One of the most effective free radical counteracting plant families is Brassicaceae, containing high concentrations of Sulforaphane. Sulforaphane, in purest form acts as an indirect antioxidant, inducing Phase 2 detoxifying enzyme activity. Activating a series of endogenous mechanisms by which cells protect themselves from oxidative damage: it is thus able to protect each cell from toxic and aggressive molecules i.e. free radicals. The effects of these indirect antioxidants remain active even after they are eliminated, since they trigger a cellular protection process that continues to be effective for days. Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in grape skins and red wine with a very high antioxidant strength. Its antioxidant action is also able to protect blood vessels. The legendary traditional Chinese medicine plant He Shou Wu boasts as a plant providing potency and tonicity to those who consume it. It contains several phytochemicals including, polyphenols and stilbenes that make He Shou Wu an effective antioxidant.

It is clear that the immune system’s role is to defend the body against pathogenic attacks and activate counter measures. However, other organs’ activities also help support our immune systems, even if indirectly. For example, the skin functions as an external barrier, limiting pathogens from accessing our bodies. The skin can only perform its function if it is intact and healthy. The same concept applies to the digestive tract and secretory organs, via their activities and enzymes; they counter the formation of potential pathogens and promote their expulsion.

Immune system supplements

Phytotherapeutic recommendations:

Combine 2 capsules of IS1 ANTOXI PLUS daily + 10 ml of IS3 MIRABILUS IMMUNO PLUS twice daily. Treatment should go from October to February.

0 ml of IS2 ANTOXI PLUS FLUID daily, detoxifying and liver purifying. Treatment should be taken in March/June/September.

IS3 MIRABILUS IMMUNO PLUS is ideal during seasonal changes i.e. spring/summer and summer/autumn. At the initial onset of respiratory tract symptoms.

• IS1 ANTOXI PLUS is ideal throughout the entire year, to achieve antioxidant action and powerful anti-aging for the skin (face, neck and hands)

 Bibliography sources

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Claudio Andrés Álvarez, Andrés Barriga, Fernando Albericio, María Soledad Romero, and Fanny Guzmán, Identification of Peptides in Flowers of Sambucus nigra with Antimicrobial Activity against Aquaculture Pathogens. Molecules. 2018 May; 23(5): 1033. Published online 2018 Apr 27. doi: 10.3390/molecules23051033.

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