I find the immune system to be one of the most fascinating areas in medicine. We live in an era of incredibly advanced science and technology, and still the immune system harbours many mysteries: How have we not yet solved the common cold? What causes autoimmune disease? Why do we not yet have a good test for the bugs that contribute to chronic illness? It’s sometimes easier to blame our genetics or bad luck instead of acknowledging our poor understanding of these things. Fortunately, many traditional medicines, with thousands of years of experience, offer priceless insight that can help us stay healthy through application of immune supporting and balancing strategies.
One of the main differences that set holistic or integrative medicines apart from allopathic (mainstream) medicine, is its identification of the “problem to treat”. If a person has pneumonia for example, we generally expect to go to our doctor to receive an antibiotic to resolve the infection, where the bacteria is considered the “problem to treat”. A holistic medical approach takes this scenario one step further to consider that the infection was a symptom rather than the underlying cause of the illness. A thorough assessment of the underlying cause includes an evaluation of immune system function. Are there other signs of dysfunction, such as allergies, eczema, or chronic sinus concerns? Do the organs that maintain optimal function of the immune system, such as the digestive tract and liver, function well? Are stress hormones or diet suppressing immune function? Should we address stress hormone physiology directly or should we address the emotional or environmental trigger of the stress? The resultant integrative medical treatment will be unique to the person’s underlying concerns and will draw on tools used by a variety of traditional medicines intended to restore optimal function to the body’s various organs and systems.
Below are some links to previous articles on the immune system that will hopefully help you to stay healthy this season.