sliced yellow lemon on top of a wooden board
Photo: Karolina Grabowska

For some of us, the first outbreaks of SARS and the need for flu vaccinations are a signal that we need to run to the pharmacy for miracle cures that will supposedly protect us from viruses and bacteria throughout the cold season. Pharmaceutical companies represent a wide range of drugs of this kind: immunomodulators, immunostimulants, adaptogens, correctors, herbal and synthetic drugs, expensive and cheap, in tablets, drops, syrups, etc. Is there really a need to use these funds?

What is Immunity System & How Does it Work?

Immunity or the immune system is a system of the body that protects it from all foreign substances from the outside (viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc.). It also controls the elimination process of broken, mutated, and old cells of the body. For instance, it is immunity that protects us from tumor formations.

The lack of a separate link of the immunity systems leads to various diseases. Violation of antitumor immunity leads to the development of malignant neoplasms. At times, immune cells begin to attack and destroy friendly cells, that belong to their own body. These are called autoimmune diseases. Allergic reactions occur when our own immune system creates a certain reaction to various substances.

In a healthy body, all parts of the immune system work together: protection against infection, antitumor immunity, the phenomenon of immunological tolerance. The balance between these links ensures the correct functioning of the immune system. Thus, if a person has not been diagnosed with a defect in a separate link of the immune system, and there are no recurrent bacterial or viral infections, there is no need for purposeful immunity “raise”. 

ginger, lemon, carrot, and juice on a table
Photo: Josh Millgate

Is it Necessary to Stimulate the Immunity System?

Stimulation of immunity nowadays is an especially controversial topic. In Western countries, immunomodulators are not in use, since the significance of these drugs has not been verified. The therapeutic effect should be directed to a specific link of immunity, and not to the entire immune system. For better or worse, there is no such thing as a magic pill. To create immunity against a specific infection, vaccination is carried out, to fill the missing link of immunity in immunodeficiencies, substitution therapy is carried out. We suggest you buy an immune booster from Mr. Vitamin.

Let's talk in more detail about the drugs that the pharmaceutical market offers us. Most of them are antiviral, i.e. act directly on the DNA and RNA of viruses. They affect the immune system only indirectly. Thus, antiviral drugs are needed precisely for a viral infection! For the purpose of prevention, there is no need to use them!

Another group of drugs is stimulants for the production of interferons, and interferon is a protein that is synthesized by the cells of our body when viruses and other foreign agents invade. Again, only certain categories of patients need to use them after an immunological examination. For example, those who suffer from chronic viral infections with exacerbations (for example, the herpes virus, HPV).

If you suddenly get sick, this does not mean at all that “immunity has decreased”. This indicates that the protective properties of the body have decreased, which needs to be dealt with, but everything is in order with immunity. Sometimes we mistakenly perceive frequent SARS as disorders in the immune system. For example, in the case of frequently ill children who get sick more than 4-6 times a year. In fact, this may be due to the beginning of attending a kindergarten (children interact with the flora of other children and get sick, which is not a pathology), untreated persistent infections in the nasopharynx, uncontrolled use of antibiotics, “for every sneeze”. Taking immunomodulators in this case translates the infection into a subacute course with periodic exacerbations.

woman in sportswear is doing yoga in studio
Photo: Cliff Booth

How Can We Help Our Immune System?

The immune system of a healthy person does not need intervention. It is crucial to create advantageous conditions for its normal functioning.

Several recommendations will help maintain the immune system at a normal level:

1. Do not neglect the vaccination schedule, including the annual flu vaccination.

2. Complete in quantity and composition of nutrients, vitamins, and microelements (with an emphasis on protein, which is the main building material for immune system cells).

3. Get a good night's sleep. During sleep, new immune cells are formed.

4. Stress must be avoided, as they also lead to a decrease in the body's resistance. The opinion that a good mood is a key to health is not a myth, because our immune, nervous and hormonal systems work in constant interaction.

5. Keep yourself in good physical shape, spend more time outdoors. Good blood circulation allows the cells of the immune system to reach all corners of our body and perform their protective function.

6. Get prompt and complete treatment for any infectious diseases.

The immune system is one of the most poorly understood systems in the body, so you need to be very picky about interventions in its work. If there are suspicions of a serious violation in the functioning of the immune system, do not postpone a visit to the doctor — perhaps a specific link in the immune system has broken down, and you cannot do without specific treatment.

Lots of love,