Boosting Your Immune System – Part 2

If you would like a session with Louise to discuss how to boost your immune system, please scroll to the bottom of this post for a special covid-19 discount.

March 19 – that is when we closed the doors at Wellspring.  It seems like yesterday and at the same time so long ago. In the days that followed the closure there were many conversations about when the self isolation would end, what it would look like, and how we could make sure that we were ready to reopen.  Unfortunately those conversations are still happening.  During those initial days , OK maybe weeks, there was definitely stress and some anxiety, which if I am honest, resulted in some not so healthy habits.  My schedule was off, my routines were off, everything just felt off.  I was not eating as well, sleeping as well, exercising as much, and certainly not remembering to take my supplements.  Luckily as time has gone by, new routines have been established and I am back on track.  I know that I was not alone.  It has been difficult for most people.  But as we move towards getting back out into the world, it is time to boost our immune systems with some healthy habits. For more information on the immune system, look at “Boosting Your Immune System – Part 1.”

But before we talk about how to boost our immune systems, it is important to talk about one factor that is contributing not only to immune suppression, but to most of the common disease today – inflammation.

Inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s first line of defense against toxins, infections and injuries. When the cells are in distress, they release chemicals to alert the immune system that it is time to come to work.  However, there are many people today that do not just have acute inflammation, but are walking around chronically inflamed.  When a person has chronic inflammation, their body is on high alert all the time causing damage to their cells and organs.  This can point to an overworked, over-tired immune system that can’t properly protect.

How do you know if you have chronic inflammation?  Symptoms can vary greatly.  Some of the more common symptoms include:

eczema • fibromyalgia • gastroenteritis • gingivitis • heart disease • hepatitis • high blood pressure • insulin resistance (diabetes) • obesity • joint pain/arthritis • autoimmune disorder • kidney disease • osteopenia • osteoporosis • Parkinson’s disease • periodontal disease

This is just a small list.  As more research is being conducted, scientists are finding that most diseases today have a component of inflammation.  Therefore, it is key that we learn how to reduce our overall inflammation not only to improve our immune function, but also to decrease our risk for disease.

Sleep

One of the most important things that we can do for inflammation, and in turn our immune system, is to get a good night’s sleep.  It is during the night that our bodies repair all of the damage that has been done during the day. It is also during this time that our immune system gets primed.  But how exactly does sleep boost the immune system?

There are 2 hormones that help us to function during the day and help us to sleep at night – cortisol and melatonin.  In the morning when we wake up, our cortisol is high. Because most bodily cells have cortisol receptors, it can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, reduce inflammation, assist with memory formulation, and control blood pressure.  Cortisol decreases in the evening as melatonin starts to rise letting us know that it is time for bed.  As melatonin increases it stimulates other hormones to be released which can activate our immune cells.  These cells include natural killer cells and T-cells, which are vital to fighting infections such as viruses. In other words, while you sleep, your body can make more immune fighting cells that can attack viruses and bacteria. Without a good night’s sleep our immune system is not able to fight harmful substances and decrease overall inflammation.

Exercise

Being physically active can give your immune system a great boost in a number of ways. Just as sleep increases the natural killer cells and the T-cells, regular exercise can increase your body’s production of antibodies and T-cells as well, causing them to circulate more rapidly.  It can also help expel toxins from your body energizing your cells and metabolism.  Research has also found that when you exercise regularly your body’s stress hormones—including adrenaline and cortisol are lowered giving your immune system added strength.

There is also good news in terms of inflammation.  There have been studies that show twenty minutes to half an hour of moderate exercise, including fast walking have anti-inflammatory effects.

Decrease Stress

There are so many ways that you can work on decreasing stress.  Here are just a few:

• Keep a positive attitude • Accept that there are events that you cannot control • Be assertive instead of aggressive • Learn and practice relaxation techniques (meditation, yoga, or tai-chi) • Exercise regularly • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals • Learn to manage your time more effectively • Set limits appropriately and learn to say no to requests that would create excessive stress in your life • Make time for hobbies, interests, and relaxation • Get enough rest and sleep • Seek out social support – spend more time with those you enjoy (Zoom and FaceTime count!)

Sometimes we can only do so much on our own.  It may be important to seek treatment with a psychologist or other mental health professional trained in stress management or biofeedback techniques to learn healthy ways of dealing with the stress in your life.

 

Look for Part 3 of “Boosting Your Immune System” for more strategies to reduce inflammation and boost the immune system through nutrition and supplementation.

If you would like to speak with Louise about how to boost your immune system, please call her at 570-421-3708 or contact her at wellspring@wellsprigholisticcenter.com.  Sessions are 60 minutes ($65) or 90 minutes ($90).

 

Boosting Your Immune System – Part 1

If you would like a session with Louise to discuss how to boost your immune system, please scroll to the bottom of this post for a special covid-19 discount.

My sister-in-law, Ann Mullen, has now sewn over 1,000 face masks for the hospitals, police stations, and healthcare workers, as well as family and friends.  She made me a bunch so that I can be ready to go back to the office.  I am still not used to “not” seeing people when I am at the store or even just driving down the road.  It seems so surreal like we are watching a movie – but we’re not.

There are 2 big questions that are on a lot of people’s minds right now – when will things reopen and what will that look like?  I struggle with these questions myself and wonder what life will be like at Wellspring when we finally get the OK to open.

When we were first learning about Covid-19, I had clients who were coming in very concerned.  I was holding firm in those first few weeks that this was just another virus and that we should be treating it as such.  When the number of cases started to rise, the supplies started to dwindle, and the hospitals became overwhelmed with cases, my attitude changed and I was fully on board with closing down and staying home to help mitigate the spread.  I still feel like this was the correct action.  I was not and still am not so concerned for myself, but I do not want to be responsible for spreading the virus to populations that may not have the immune system to handle it.

That seems like what it is all coming down to … the immune system.  Why would one person test positive for the virus and have absolutely no noticeable symptoms, while another person tests positive, gets seriously ill, and maybe even dies?  There is no other explanation at the moment than their immune systems.  So what does that mean?  What does your immune system have to do with catching the virus?

Our immune systems are our first line of attack against foreign invaders and it has three primary tasks:  identifying threats and removing them; neutralizing pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi; and destroying dead or malfunctioning (including cancerous) cells within the body.  Before our immune system can go on attack, it first needs to differentiate between “self” and “non-self” to identify a true threat.

What does that look like?

There are specific proteins located within or resting on the surface of harmful bacteria, fungi, microorganisms, and viruses called antigens which help to trigger the immune response.  When these antigens come in contact with an immune receptor, the immune system respond by neutralizing, removing, or destroying the threat.  As part of the immune response, the body make antibodies which not only help to destroy the invader but also stay around in your body so that if that foreign invader tries to come back, they will be ready to attack and defend the body.  This is the hope with the Covid-19 virus – that those that catch the virus and create antibodies will become immune to the next round of infections. Our immune systems function in a complicated cascade of events that most of the time works beautifully to keep us safe and healthy.

So what does this have to do with reopening the center? 

Our immune systems are our first line of defense and at the moment, the only line of defense that we have against this virus.  As we start to reenter the world – going shopping, going to the doctors, socializing with our family, friends, and neighbors, maybe even going out to eat – we need to be prepared with something other than a face mask and gloves.  It is important that we make sure our immune systems are functioning at their optimal level so that if we come in contact with the virus, our bodies will respond and ward off the attack.

How do we do make sure that our immune system is functioning at it’s optimal level?

Look for Part 2 of “Boosting Your Immune System” for more information on how inflammation can reduce your immune system and some of the strategies to help reduce it and optimize the immune system so that we can reenter the world with confidence and resilience.

If you would like to speak with Louise about how to boost your immune system, please call her at 570-421-3708 or contact her at wellspring@wellsprigholisticcenter.com.  Sessions are 60 minutes ($65) or 90 minutes ($90). 

Boost Immunity

Many of our patients have been asking for ways to boost their immune systems. Here is a short list:

  1.  in the morning take : Vitamin C 500 mg – 1000mg , Elderberry syrup (don’t get one with sugar added), oregano essential oil 2 drops in warm water.
  2.  in the afternoon take: Fish oil with EPA and DHA, at least 1000 mg, Zinc (lozenges are fine),and  Vitamin D-3, at least 1000 IU, as this controls thousands of gene expressions including your immune system.
  3. at some point during the day, place 1 teaspoon of thyme (from your herb cabinet) and 1 tablespoon of chamomile flowers (you can buy them in bulk at the health food store) or 1 chamomile tea bag in a pot of water.  Bring to a boil.  Remove it from the heat and grab a large bath towel.  Place your head over the pot of water, the towel over your head, and steam for 10 minutes.  Thyme and chamomile are anti-bacterial and anti-viral.  The steam will help to clean out your sinuses which is your first line of defense against bacteria and viruses.
  4. add fermented foods to your meals, 1-2 tablespoons to add the good bacteria to your gut, and/or sip on bone broth, which has proline and glycine for immunity boosting.
  5. eat at least 5 cups of vegetables per day and cut down on grains, sugar, and processed foods.  Sugar is the most important to cut down on or eliminate completely in all forms, including fruit, as it decreases your immune system.
  6. exercise, get out in nature (just not in a group please) and breathe deeply (here is a short breathing practice):                                                                                                                          
  7. get a good night’s sleep – during this time of accelerated stress, take a few moments at night to             write down all the things from the day or even the next day that are on your mind.

 

Here is an exercise that we practice: list things on any app. that you like to use e.g. notes, stickies, Word,etc., that happened during the day or that you are worried about, as all of these will effect your sleep. After writing them all down, hit delete or delete them one by one and watch them disappear!

This is a powerful way to set up the mind for melatonin boosting during sleep – perhaps one of the best ways to support your immune system.

We hope this helps. As always, we are here.

Anita and Louise

Wellspring Holistic Center