Feeds:
Posts

Posts Tagged ‘immune system’

The old phrase, “you’ve got to nip it in the bud,” is so true when it comes to addressing acute cold and flu symptoms. In exploring what works when it comes to immune stimulation and fighting seasonal illness, I look to traditions around the world that have been keeping people healthy for generations.

 

Contrast hydrotherapy – common to Finnish culture, Japanese and native American tradition, the alternating hot and cold water stimulation to the body does wonders to boost the system.  This can vary from enjoying a regular warm shower and briefly alternating the temperature to as cool as can be comfortably tolerated, then back to heat as warm as is comfortable and back to cool again. A typical duration is 1 minute hot, 5-10 seconds cold repeated 3 times.

Intensifying the experience with hot tubs or sauna use alternating with intermittent cool/cold temperature is common as well and has profound measurable effects. In a Finnish study of contracting hydrotherapy from a sauna to a shower the white blood cell activity after use was especially enhanced.   Athletes making use of the sauna with contrasting cold shower had a more dramatic result, although it is effective in non-athletes as well. (1)

SW Sauna

Medicinal mushrooms – As researcher and mycology expert Paul Stamets describes, mushrooms can save the world. The complexity of the mycelium web has numerous interactions with our own immune system when we consume the wide varieties that nature provides. Modern research mimicks what Chinese Medicine has known for years. Various mushroom strains are well known to boost the protective energy of the body,

“We share in common the same types of pathogens, humans and mushrooms…We speak the same biological language… Agaricus mushrooms are my favorite. They are very active immune stimulators. They are known to destroy the pox virus, flu virus and our common cold rhinovirus,” Stamets shares. (2)

 

Many Americans suffering from cold and flu symptoms will be prescribed antibiotics drugs this year. These are important, life saving drugs that have gone through many incarnations as time and the marketplace has changed. While every prescribing practitioner knows the danger of over-prescribing, many feel they have to give something to a patient in distress. Even if it’s a viral infection, an antibiotic can still provide some symptomatic and placebo relief. However, when it’s not truly an out of control bacterial infection the cost of using antibiotics may be greater than the benefit for long term health.

There is a concerning association between the number of antibiotic prescriptions used in one’s lifetime and developing cancer. People who have used 10 or more courses of antibiotics in their lifetime have a significant increase in rates of cancer. This does not mean that antibiotics cause cancer, but that we are identifying a correlated trend. (3)

 

Berberine containing herbs – this chemical compound found in nature exists in a wide variety of plants that have been traditionally used to defeat illnesses. Goldenseal, oregon grape root, turmeric, chinese skullcap and more all contain this powerful compound. It is known to kill bacteria, yeast, parasites and more. In doing so, it also enhances intestinal elimination and provides rich nutrients to the body.

From a traditional medicine perspective, enhancing the body’s natural defense mechanisms by stimulating the immune system provides not only a relief from aggravating symptoms but more importantly supports improvements in long term health.

Stillwater Clinic & Apothecaryprovides acute care services to Lyons and the surrounding communities! I practiced in Oregon as a primary care doctor for 5 years and now diagnose and treat patients in my office here in Lyons as a Registered Naturopathic Doctor. I offer natural medicine alternatives to pharmaceutical treatment as well as collaborate with area physicians to meet the full healthcare needs of individuals.

References:

  1. Wanda Pilch,1,4Ilona Pokora,2Zbigniew Szyguła,1,4 Tomasz Pałka,1,4 Paweł Pilch,3 Tomasz Cisoń,1,4 Lesław Malik,3and Szczepan Wiecha J Hum Kinet. Effect of a Single Finnish Sauna Session on White Blood Cell Profile and Cortisol Levels in Athletes and Non-Athletes. 2013 Dec 18; 39: 127–135. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3916915/
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Paul_Stamets

3.Dobson, Roger. The risk of developing prostate, breast, lung, and colon cancer rises with use of antibiotics, a large observational study has found (International Journal of Cancer 2008 Aug 14, doi: 10.1002/ijc.23622) http://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a1381.

Read Full Post »

herbal-medicine-in-jars-0Drippy noses, itching eyes, fatigue and shortness of breath are all a terrible combination of symptoms that tend to show up for millions of Americans in summer time.  While it seems like an awful way for the season to welcome someone, there are numerous ways to help improve the pattern over time.

Allergies are a result of inappropriate immune reactions to non-harmful particles.  The allergic person has somehow determined that cat dander, grass pollen or food substances are dangerous to the body and the resulting attack can be very annoying.  This is especially true for environmental allergies where we cannot stop the exposures from happening.

While it is generally determined that once a person has allergies, that is their tendency for life, some people “outgrow them” or grow into them.  Either way, you can support health naturally with a variety of remedies that both improve allergy symptoms but overall health too:

–       Quercetin – A natural anti-inflammatory and antihistamine, quercetin is a potent bioflavonoid that is found naturally in onions, black tea and apples.

–       Bromelain – This compound comes from pineapples and is a natural anti-inflammatory.  It enzymatic activity breaks up inflammation in the body and is useful for allergies and other inflammatory conditions.

–       N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) – This is one of natures most powerful mucolytic agents.  Used to break up congestion, NAC is created naturally by the body from proteins but can be taken as a nutritional supplement to eliminate congestion.  Especially helpful for chronic congestion of the sinuses or lungs.

–       Nettles – Urtica Dioica is one of North America’s most abundant natural remedies for allergies.  This herb stabilizes mast cells which calms the bodies tendency to react to pollens that enter the respiratory tract.  Taken as a daily tea, encapsulated or tinctured there are multiple constituents in this plant that benefit the immune system.

–       Eyebright – Euphrasia officinalis has an affinity for benefiting the eye when consumed as a tea, tincture or encapsulated herb.  This plant is astringent and can be used topically as a compress for itchy, swollen eyes.  It works equally as well as a homeopathic remedy for allergy symptoms affecting the eye.

–       Vitamin C – Popular for it’s immune stimulating effects, vitamin C acts as a natural anti-histamine, calming the allergic reaction.  This vitamin is water soluble so the body will easily eliminate any excess that may be taken.

–       Amla – This herb is used traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine as an agent to improve digestion.  However, it is one of the only compounds we know of that increases the gut immune function, known as secretory IgA.  To calm the related digestive reactions of allergies, Amla can be added on a routine basis to support the body.

–       Bee Pollen – Oral tolerance is the ability of the body to regulate an immune response to something that caused allergy symptoms.  Oral tolerance can be naturally stimulated to regional pollens by consuming the pollen from bees.  This can be a very effective method of neutralizing the bodies reactions, however it should be done with extreme caution to prevent the immune system from being overly-triggered.  It is helpful to know from skin or blood testing how the immune system is responding because a severe IgE reaction to a pollen may result in anaphylaxis if bee pollen is consumed.

Ways to help shift the immune system from the allergic tendency to create a long-term correction in immune function include:

–       Reducing Inflammation – In addition to avoiding food allergens, minimizing inflammatory provoking agents from the diet can help ease the body.  This includes vegetables of the nightshade family, pork and grain-fed meats, sugar, coffee and alcohol.  This also includes any irritants that the body has identified as harmful including other environmental and food allergens.

–       Detoxification – Enhancing the bodies elimination of irritating agents will help correct immune function.  Ensuring adequate bowel elimination, kidney function and augmenting elimination through the lungs and skin all support the body’s natural detoxification process.

–       Nervous System Regulation – The more we can exist in our parasympathetic, rest and digest aspect of our nervous system, the better the bodies opportunity to restore and heal imbalances.  Utilizing stress management techniques on a routine basis helps us not only feel more calm and peaceful, but also improves our immune system and whole self.

For more information on treating allergies with natural medicine, come to Stillwater clinic for personalized hydrotherapy sessions and holistic health consultations to get the right tools in place to support your unique self.

Read Full Post »

Recently, supermarket giant Costco recalled a mixed berry product due to known contamination of Hepatitis A. This outbreak is affecting individuals all across the country from the 333,000 bags of frozen berries sold.

The illness:
Hepatitis A is a common form of food poisoning around the world. Symptoms range from an undetectable illness, to severe acute liver disease. However, the majority of individuals will experience a normal immune response with chills and fever, body aches, nausea and fatigue. Most individuals are 100% improved within 6 weeks.

If you are within 2 weeks of the exposure the CDC recommends you receive the Hepatitis A vaccine.  However, the vaccine contains ingredients that may be harmful to your health.

Natural Medicine Support:

Minimizing the infection and supporting the natural immune system is possible with a variety of natural options.

Nutrition:

  • Lean protein, high vegetable, high fiber diet
  • Dandelion greens, burdock root, mustard greens, black radish, apples and saffron, watercress, beets, parsley, artichokes, cherries, grapefruit, parsnips, endive, garlic, onion, chicory, carob, horseradish, kumquats, limes, quinces, grapes, wheat germ, lecithin, mushrooms

Remedies:

  • Dandelion root tea – 1 quart/day
  • Tincture: goldenseal, oregon grape root, and chelidonium – 15 drops 3 times per day
  • Castor Oil abdominal massage in upper right quadrant with hot water bottle, rest for 30-60 minutes daily
  • Lemon juice mixed with water, upon rising in the morning 30 minutes before eating

Avoid:

  • Saturated fats, trans-FAs, hydrogenated oils (margarine, vegetable shortening, imitation butter spreads, most commercial peanut butters, oxidized fats [deep fried foods, fast foods, ghee, BBQ meats])
  • Hot sauces, spicy, fried, fatty, rich and/or salty foods
  • Alcohol, coffee, caffeine

Supplements:

  • Fiber Flow: charcoal, fiber + liver support herbs
  • Vitamin B-12 and folic acid or MTHF 1mg if applicable
  • Vitamin C (1000mg daily)

At Stillwater, our natural living store provides the highest quality herbs and supplements.  We offer organic, GMO and contaminant free medicinals.

If you think you or your child have been exposed, please schedule an acute illness appointment for individual treatment options and confirmatory testing with myself or another trusted healthcare provider.

Yours In Health,

Dr. Sara Hart

Read Full Post »