angrydoc asked in HealthAlternative Medicine · 1 decade ago

What is "boosting immunity?"?

There are a lot of questions here about immunity boosting and I'd really like to know what they mean? Is it pseudoscientific concept much like "flushing out toxins" or is it a real scientific concept?

How do you know your immune system is "boosted?"

Can this boosted immunity be measured?

If yes, then how? Number of B and T cells? NK cells?

If you boost the immune system of a person who has autoimmune disease, will you end up hurting him?

Is it entirely possible that boosting the immunity is totally bogus since your immune system is like a binary system (it either works or doesn't)?

Update:

thanks, SkepDoc. Here's hoping.

8 Answers

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    Hope you are not being facetious and this is a serious question.....will give you the benefit of the doubt anyway :)

    Herbal extracts may exert some of their immuno-modulatory effect by polarizing the immune system. So for instance if one could polarize the immune system towards a more dominant Th1 response when faced with an intracellular challenge such as when faced with an invading virus then that might be beneficial as Th1 domination over Th2 is key in fighting intracellular infections.

    Immunomodulatory effect of various plant extracts [just a few examples of very very many]:

    Ginseng:

    "Dendritic Cells Promoted by Ginseng Saponins Drive a Potent Th1 Polarization." .....[abstract]:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19578511?itool=...

    Astragalus:

    "Effects of Astragalus membranaceus in promoting T-helper cell type 1 polarization and interferon-gamma production by up-regulating T-bet expression in patients with asthma."......[abstract]:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17361521?itool=...

    Beta sitosterol:

    "Immunoregulatory activity by daucosterol, a beta-sitosterol glycoside, induces protective Th1 immune response against disseminated Candidiasis in mice." .....[abstract]:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17335944?itool=...

    Guava :

    "Anti-allergic Psidium guajava extracts exert an antitumor effect by inhibition of T regulatory cells and resultant augmentation of Th1 cells" .....[abstract]:

    http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=17299...

    Ecinacea:

    "Enhancement of innate and adaptive immune functions by multiple Echinacea species.".....[abstract]:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17887935

    "Echinacea increases arginase activity and has anti-inflammatory properties in RAW 264.7 macrophage cells, indicative of alternative macrophage activation.".....[abstract]:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19111603?ordina...

    Blackseed [Nigella sativa]:

    "Cytotoxic and immunopotentiating effects of ethanolic extract of Nigella sativa L. seeds."....[abstract]:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10720783?itool=...

    "Anti-tumor properties of blackseed (Nigella sativa L.) extracts."....[abstract]:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17581684?ordina...

    You know as well as I do that drug companies trawl the worlds native populations, exploring native herbal remedies, looking for lead compounds......many of which they hope will be the next "magic bullet" for attacking a specific cancer. You must have studied some immunology, biochemistry and pharmacology if you are a doctor really. You know that many of these anti-cancer drugs exert some of their effect at the level of the immune system....Paclitaxel being one such example [ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19733657?itool=... ]. You may also know that Paclitaxel, as with many modern antitumour drugs, was derived originally from a herbal remedy....from the bark of the pacific yew tree.....taxol or Taxus brevifolia.

    Do some research beyond your familiar comfort zone......cannot harm you....on the contrary....

    Healthy eating which includes the use of plant extracts and herbs for their commonly known [among locals for instance] health benefits is the way to go for good health [preventative medicine], which we all want and who could argue with that.

    Not a doctor but have a science background [biochem, physiol, immunol, pharmacol, mol biol] ....and an interest in herbal medicine ...as part of a healthy living/eating lifestyle of course ;)

    Thanks...

  • 1 decade ago

    Well, the immune system is a really important thing, in my microbio class, the professor was really excited when he got to the immune system section.

    The immune system is what kills any foreign pathogen like bacteria, virus, and funguses. when it's weak or doesn't work properly, u get sick. People don't die from flu, as the flu weakens ur immune system, what actually kills u when u get the flu is the secondary infection that follows which is usually pneumonia. a virus attacks and then a bacteria gang bangs on the immune system = x__X if u don't get treatment for the pneumonia infection.

    Before antibiotics, people used forms of silver as it has antimicrobial properties. that is why you hear about silverware, which rich people could afford back then hence the rich survived the bubonic plague while the poor did not. soldiers in the civil war added real silver coins into a jug of milk to delay spoilage. There's a solution called colloidal silver which boosts the immune system and has antimicrobial properties and the interest in silver has gone up since it can get rid of MRSA while antibiotics are meeting resistance.

    How do you know? well if you had allergies everyday in the morning and u have less or none anymore, then that's one way.

    memory cells and killer T cells are abundant when there is an ongoing infection, an active one... i don't think you'll see an increase in these cells when u take probiotics or colloidal silver. Instead,the silver interacts more with the pathogens so a microscope would be a better way of measuring efficacy.

    To me... the idea that your immune system attacks you is ridiculous, i would rather want to think that the pathogens do a form of mimicry that causes the killer T cells to attack the cells. of course more research should be done...

    as for ur last question ,..is this some type of opinion question? The human body is dynamic, it's either you're at your highest potential or you're at a weaker level. if you are thinking of a situation of when it doesn't work at all...then you'll be dead in no time by the common cold, buddy

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Thankyou for posting this question and an excellent one at that.

    I've challenged the alties on this concept too. Thus far I haven't received a satisfactory response. I fail to understand the rationale. If one is otherwise healthy, the immune system doesn't need boosting. The alties try and convince people that you cannot get adequate nutrition from food. The reasons they use for this vary, such as not enough sun, busy lifestyle or simply due to the fact that they think the food today is not as healthy as it was in the Garden of Eden.

    Best advise is for people to follow a healthy balanced diet.

    But I see your point, what exactly do the alties mean by boosting the immune system, and which part. The immune system is a complex combination of proteins and cells. There are antibodies with different subtypes etc, what exactly are they boosting? And as you say, what evidence do they have that the immune system has actually been boosted?

    Source(s): Registered Nurse
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I don't know how "everybody" defines it,so I can't answer for them....but when *I* think of the term/see a question,I think of doing the most you can to AVOID illness,colds,ect....simple things like taking a Multi Vitamin,added Vitamin C(as it's common knowledge that a good diet,which most of us do not get),has A LOT to do with our health.

    Hand washing several times a day.

    Possibly taking an herb like Echinacia(sp?),as it's often known as "natures" antibiotic,or good for the immune system,ect.

    Again,that's me...I'm sure there are other ideas depending on the person:-)

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  • B
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Your immune system is not like a binary system or it wouldn't matter if you smoked, what you ate, what you did, nothing would matter. Eating certain foods make your immune system work better, and doing certain things (like smoking) make it worse. It's a fact, it's real. I dont' know if it can be measured though.

  • 4 years ago

    Steal

  • 1 decade ago

    I have a sneaking suspicion you know the answer ;)

    "Boosting" is just a term used by supplement makers to deceive people. It is not a measurable phenomenon.

  • 1 decade ago

    good luck with getting an answer that makes any sense.

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