The human immune system is a magnificent and well-coordinated network of cells, organs, glands, and physiological processes. Nearly every cell, organ and tissue in the body is involved either directly or indirectly in the immune process. A portion of this elaborate network of immune defense is functional at birth (innate immunity) and the rest develops as the body interacts with the environment (acquired immunity).
Once the immune response has been suppressed to any significant degree, either by illness or by drugs such as corticosteroids, recovery is challenging and often requires extended time and treatment. Immune suppression adversely affects every system in the body.
As a researcher in immunology and as a practicing physician, I have investigated the science as well as the clinical data for many “immune enhancers.” In the process of looking for the best among the many, I developed a set of performance criteria for their consistent evaluation. They are as follows:
- Capable of deep action – able to make fundamental changes in immunity
- Capable of sustained action – effectiveness does not dissipate or decrease with continued use over time
- Produce broad immune stimulation
- Enhance both humoral and cellular immunity
- Effective in both acute and chronic conditions
- Dose dependent
- Versatile – beneficial for a number of health conditions
- Safe and effective for all ages
- Reliable – consistent quality, producing same effects time after time
- History of use in humans
- Manufactured with high quality controls
- Compatible with all medications
- Easy to use
- Few or no side effects
- Improvement evident by both clinical observation and lab results
- High user compliance
My goal has been to find substances that meet all the above criteria. One of the most promising I could find with a scientific basis for immune enhancement was the use of Lactobacilli cell walls and cell wall fractions. Of the various combinations commercially available, the cell wall fractions of specific strains of Lactobacillus bulgaricus (L. bulgaricus) appear to be the most potent.
The results of studies and historical use of dead L. bulgaricus cell walls and cell wall fractions clearly demonstrates the broad clinical effectiveness of enhancing the body’s own defenses. In the presence of the dead L. bulgaricus cell wall fractions, the immune system is stimulated to become more responsive even though these cell wall fractions are harmless and not pathogenic.
Because of both the specific and general beneficial effects of dead L. bulgaricus cell walls and cell wall fractions, they have been shown to be effectively boost immune function in a broad range of acute and chronic clinical conditions. These include many upper and lower respiratory ailments such as bronchitis, pneumonia, tonsillitis, rhinitis, sinusitis, COPD and bronchial asthma, and even infectious conditions that are a result of treatment resistant bacteria or are of viral origin (Pedan ’99). No bacterial resistance has developed, nor is it expected to be a factor because this mechanism works by strengthening natural immune responsiveness rather than acting directly on the pathogenic organisms.
Other Factors Contributing to Immunity
No matter how effectively a therapy supports immunity, lifestyle has a decisive influence on the outcome of that therapy. If nutritional intake is not sufficient, or air and water quality is poor, sleep is inadequate or of poor quality, or stress levels are too high, recovery cannot be expected to be either rapid or complete. Taking care of these problems may require dietary and habit change, allergy testing, nutritional supplements, environmental improvements, fitness training and psychological or stress management counseling before more focused therapies can produce the desired results.
As mentioned earlier, every cell, tissue and organ is involved in the immune process. Every factor that contributes to the vitality of the immune system is important to regaining or maintaining good health. As the cold and flu season is upon us, it is important to not only look for the best immune enhancers, but also to take personal responsibility for creating a healthy body to house a strong immune system.