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Name: Kris
Status: Educator
Grade:  9-12
Location: IL
Country: United States
Date: July 2008


Question:
As a biology teacher at Hoffman Estates High School I asked my junior and senior students to fashion a question for the Ask A Scientist board. We are presently studying the immune system and my students want to know if there is any artificial or natural way in which to boost their immune systems? Can you help us with this concept?



Replies:
Antioxidants like vitamin C & E would offer protection. Vitamin A strengthens mucus membranes to thwart invaders and enhance total resistance (not necessarily immunity). Being generally physically fit is a huge factor, but studies with professional athletes suggest a faster spread of viruses and other agents through their system. Ginseng, mineral springs (hormesis - low ionizing radiation stimulation), and other agents have not been proven beneficial scientifically. In general, if you minimize damage via UV and other radiation to the immune system, minimize the aging process, you will maximize your immune response. Since Louis Pasteur, we should not forget targeting specific immunity via vaccines. Also, bone marrow transplants will help those that are immunodeficient. It is hoped that biotechnology will produce antibodies and other agents to order, that will be the magic bullets against any immunoinvader.

Lou Harnisch



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