Boosting the immune system
Date: Around 1993
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? Thanks from 6th hour biology.
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.
I was looking at the response to boosting one's immune system and
I wonder if you would consider a couple of other options. The first is that
there are some new biotechnology medicines coming out on market which are
called Colony Stimulating Factors. These compounds will cause the bone marrow
to produce more of certain kinds of white cells. White Blood Cells of course
are the specific component of blood which fights infection. The second is
perhaps irrelevant. When one takes antibiotics one is in effect boosting
one's immune system, this applies whether the antibiotic is prophylactic or if
the med is for an existing infection. Remember, an antibiotic cannot
eliminate and infection without the aid of the bodies own immune system.
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Update: June 2012