Immunity: 'Tis the Season
Immunity seems to be a common theme among my patients these days. Contagious infections are no laughing matter; viruses are tricky, super intelligent, adaptable and opportunistic creatures, but I am fascinated by the variation in how infections present in different people. You see this all the time: one person is in bed for a week with influenza, aching and shivering with a terrible fever, while their partner, infected with the same virus, gets some sniffles, a low grade fever for a day and a night, then is fine. And, naturally you want to smack that person. (Fair enough). For the most part, I tend to believe those people are just very lucky; there’s certainly no blame or judgement on those who succumb to a virus. It’s not a contest, afterterall. But there’s also no denying unique immune responses to intruders. When a virus enters a population, not everyone catches it.
Simple Ways to Improve Immunity
While we can’t control what germs make us sick, there are some ways we can protect ourselves and reduce the risk. Here are a few simple, tangible things you can do to prepare for the potential threat of any virus this season, be it the flu, infections, or the common cold.
At the risk of sounding like your parent: wash your hands. And if that doesn’t work, wash them again. And while you’re at it, don’t touch your face or put your fingers in your mouth or eyes. You’ve probably heard it a million times, but believe it or not, simple proper handwashing is the number one preventative action you can take to protect yourself (and others) from infection.
Get enough sleep. There’s a lot of good research on sleep and its role in immune function.The relationship between sleep and immunity is undeniable. Much as your world feels like it hinges on that one last episode, the extra hour of sleep will benefit you quite a bit more.
Micronutrient supplementation. There’s a lot of great research on nutritional supplementation, specifically Vitamins C and D. You can supplement orally for both, but another great way to quickly and strongly increase your C and D status is through IVs and intramuscular injections. Sometimes, when there’s a virus going around and you feel rundown, an IV nutrient drip or a shot of Vitamin D can work to quickly stimulate your immune system. This may be the best time of year to do that. You can book that with one of our Naturopaths here at Acubalance.
Acupuncture. Acupuncture has the effect of stimulating immune response. It does this by modulating the autonomic nervous system. Because acupuncture stimulates the parasympathetics, it engages the rest-and-digest mechanisms of your body, thus stimulating an increase in the number of immune cells found in peripheral blood. And also it feels really good. When you leave your acupuncture appointment, you may experience what we have affectionately termed “acu-buzzed”. This feeling indicates that the parasympathetic nervous system has been activated, thus switching you into a state of deep relaxation. So you can float home from your appointment assured that your immune system is creating more disease-fighting cells.
And last but not least: DON’T WORRY. The effect of stress on your immune system cannot be understated. It has been demonstrated again and again in many studies over the years. Aside from that, we all have our subjective sense of this experience. When you’re under pressure (studying for an exam, meeting a deadline, caring for a sick loved-one, etc) you can feel your immune system lagging, and your susceptibility increase. How many times have you spent the week after exam week laying in bed with a terrible cold? You’re not alone. The hormones of stress interrupt a healthy immune response. Therein lies yet another good reason to book an acupuncture session.
Immunity is a wildly complex system. It is affected by numerous factors, but there are some things you can do to protect yourself this time of year.
If you have any questions about your specific health picture or would like to find out more about treatment to boost your immune system in Vancouver, please don’t hesitate to book an appointment online or a 15 free phone consultation. I’m always available for a chat.