Top scientists clueless about the immune system and how to avoid infection
(Naturalhealth365) Why do some people become ill after exposure to pathogens, while others are able to ward off infection? A new French study — designed to examine how environmental and genetic factors affect the immune system – was intended to shed light on the complex subject of immune variation.
But, its conclusions have left some natural health experts deeply underwhelmed. Discover the many aspects that affect the immune system – most of which were not even mentioned in the researchers’ conclusions! (Keep reading for a dose of truth about their report)
EXPOSED: Immune system study completely messed up
Previously, scientists had thought that the immune response didn’t vary significantly from person to person. However, recent studies have shown this to be untrue. Different responses to infection, known as immune variation, do exist – and researchers have been compelled to try to learn more.
Towards this end, thirty different scientists from various research centers joined together to form the Milieu Interieur Laboratory of Excellence (also known as Labex) at the Institut Pasteur in Paris – an effort that was coordinated by noted researcher and geneticist Dr. Lluis Quintana-Murci.
The team studied biological specimens from 1,000 healthy French men and women aged 20 to 69. Samples were taken of blood, DNA and both intestinal and nasal bacteria. In addition, vaccination and medical histories were reviewed.
To conduct the study, the team measured changes in immune gene expression in blood samples from the donors after they were exposed to various viruses, bacteria and fungi. According to study author Etienne Patin, the team was able to determine the molecular characteristics of white blood cells with an “unprecedented level of precision.”
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Patin noted that collecting the samples into a “biobank” will help identify disease risk factors, setting the stage for improvements in precision medicine to treat infectious and autoimmune diseases.
Study identifies only a handful of factors affecting immune variation
In the study, which was published in both Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Nature Immunology, researchers concluded that the two main factors for immune variation are sex and age.
The team added that smoking cigarettes and being infected with cytomegalovirus – an extremely common asymptomatic virus that currently affects over a third of the population – also had the power to make people more susceptible to infection.
Disappointingly, the scientists made very little mention of the role of environmental toxins, nutrition, stress, exercise, herbal adaptogens, the health of the microbiome, and the deficiency or sufficiency of vitamins and minerals – all of which we know can be absolute “game changers” when it comes to weakening or strengthening immune response.
(However, when it comes to the causes of disease, the findings were more definitive. The scientists reported that there are hundreds of genetic variations which change the expression of molecules that play a key role in immune defense – and some of these genetic variations seem to heighten the risk of developing conditions such as pollen allergy, lupus erythematosus and type 1 diabetes.)
Completely overlooked: The role of vitamin C and D in immune regulation
Vitamin C, long considered the “muscle” of the immune system, is a potent antioxidant with immune-supportive powers. It mediates the immune response by enhancing the production of virus-fighting interferon and promoting the function of phagocytes, which engulf and destroy foreign pathogens.
High-dose vitamin C pioneer Dr. Frederick Klenner treated many cases of influenza, polio and measles with intravenous vitamin C in the 1940s.
And, a combination of hydrocortisone, thiamine and high-dose intravenous vitamin C has achieved astounding results in treating life-threatening sepsis.
In one retrospective study conducted at the East Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, only 8.5 percent of sepsis patients died, compared with 40 percent of the control group. (Septic shock accounts for one out of three hospital deaths, and is fatal 30 to 50 percent of the time).
Vitamin D, as well, can support the immune system. In fact, we know that the “sunshine vitamin” influences the expression of genes regulating cancer development, and is protective against type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition, vitamin D plays a role in fighting viral hepatitis – and can slow the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver to a more serious condition known as steatohepatitis. No doubt, having optimal levels of these essential antioxidant vitamins is of paramount importance to the immune system. (and, the scientists say nothing about this?!)
And what about herbal adaptogens?
An adaptogen is characterized as anything that boosts the immune system and helps the body cope with stress – and Mother Nature provides these in spades.
Rhodiola rosea has proven abilities to arrest immune system decline, which is caused by age-related senescence of the immune cells. This beneficial herb regulates the endocrine system, which triggers stronger immune function. And, by regulating mood-related neurotransmitters, rhodiola reduces anxiety, stress and depression – which impair immune function.
Ginseng, another immune system-boosting herb, has impressed researchers in a series of animal and clinical studies.
In a groundbreaking study published in 2014 in Nutrients, researcher found that Korean red ginseng helped to treat influenza by modifying the immune systems of mice with clinically-induced influenza A – causing them to develop increased levels of antiviral proteins.
In another study, Korean red ginseng suppressed the expression of inflammatory genes and inhibited the ability of a respiratory virus to spread.
And, rhodiola and ginseng are only two from the roster of non-toxic natural immune system boosters. Other effective adaptogens include ginkgo biloba, ashwagandha and the medicinal Chinese mushroom known as cordyceps.
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Don’t overlook the microbiota
The intestinal microbiota – the community of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract – play a vital role in regulating immune function. Disturbances in the bacterial microbiota (dysbiosis) can cause an altered immune response that in turn can trigger disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease.
(Tip: probiotic foods – such as sauerkraut, kimchi and yogurt with active cultures – can help to support a healthy community of immunity-boosting intestinal flora).
The new study also makes no mention of the disastrous effects on the immune system of environmental toxins – such as heavy metals (for example, mercury in seafood and dental fillings) and pesticides, such as glyphosate.
Likewise, the role of physical and emotional stress – as well as adrenal fatigue – was not explored.
Encouraging update: The Labex researchers have announced that they will next explore the role of intestinal and nasal flora in immune variation – indicating that they do, in fact, credit the microbiome with at least some ability to affect the immune system.
Hopefully, their findings will be more comprehensive than that of the latest study – which appears to barely “scratch the surface” of the vital topic of immunity, and the non-toxic interventions that can enhance it.
Sources for this article include: