T cells help in various other ways. These cells secrete interferon, increasing their cell killing ability. As well as this, the T cells no when enough is enough and to stop all action. Once the immune system remembers an invader, they attack and repel it automatically - this is when we become resistant to disease.
In most cases, the immune system does its job well, but occasionally there are problems in its response to the environment.
An overactive immune system, for example, results in autoimmune disorders. In these cases, the immune system mistakes normal, healthy tissues for foreign invaders and attacks them.
Examples include rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, Type 1 diabetes, and scleroderma. Researchers suspect that chronic fatigue syndrome and Lou Gehrig's disease may be autoimmune diseases as well.
Another type of immune error occurs when the system overreacts to something harmless, as with allergies.
The opposite occurs when the immune system fails to respond enough, resulting in disease such as AIDS.
For people who are generally healthy, it's possible for the immune system to become temporarily affected and you may as a result come down with conditions quicker and for a longer time.
There are certain triggers that can interfere with the proper functioning of the immune system. Theses are toxins, stress, poor diet, lack of exercise and sleep, and abuse of alcohol, emotional stress and cigarettes. Certain medications, radiation therapy, and too many antibiotics can hamper your immune system. Scientists believe the problem may be genetic as well.
Your doctor will perform tests on you to properly diagnose the condition. He or she may also suggest that you alter your eating habits as well.
Your doctor may discuss with you any stressful events or situations that are adversely affecting your health and suggest making necessary lifestyle changes.
One option is the use of medications and injections to give your immune system a jump start. You will need to discuss the options with your doctor.
There are a number of things that can help immune disorders. You should view the sections on multiple sclerosis, arthritis, lupus, allergies and diabetes for possible remedies. Always consult your Health Professional before trying alternative treatments.
Dried slices of polyporus, from the mushroom Polyporus umbellatus, can be made into a tea and drunk for a tonic effect on the immune system. Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) tea or tincture may help combat viral infections and enhance the functioning of immune cells. The traditional Minor Bupleurum Combination, taken as a tea or in tablet form, may strengthen the immune system. Ginseng (Panax ginseng) may improve immune functioning by protecting against the damage caused by free radicals.
Try inhaling lemon essential oil in a vapouriser, or as a blend with carrier oil. This can be used in a massage. (see our Aromatherapy section)
Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) may have antiviral and antibacterial properties. Garlic (Allium sativum) has anti-infective and immune-enhancing qualities. Shiitake (Lentinus edodes), enokidake (Flammulina velutipes), and reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) mushrooms may promote production of antibodies.
Studies have shown that feeling positive and happy can have a beneficial effect on the immune system while negative emotions have the opposite effect.
It is wise to eat a diet low in fats and high in fresh fruit and vegetables, brown rice, fish, poultry and also to have plenty of filtered water. Avoid too much coffee and carbonated drinks.
Fresh garlic boosts your immune system and is a natural antibiotic. Also you may wish to try supplements such as vitamin B complex, vitamin C and E, and Echinacea.
Identify the things that cause you stress in your life and try to avoid them, or reduce the affect that they have on you.
Change your habits to include things that actively promote good health.
When to seek further professional advice