Michael Domeny DNP-c, FNP, MS, L.Ac, CD/N,
Licensed Nutritionist, Licensed Acupuncturist
Board certified Herbalist,
Family Nurse Practitioner
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A grooving number of remedies are now being shown in laboratory and clinical studies to have marked immunological effect. Some are stimulants to immunity, but most can best be described as “modulators” – that is, they enable the body’s natural responses to be more flexible in the face of disease. We can identify three levels of herbal activity when it comes to immune system.
· The deep immune activation
· Surface immune activation
· “Adaptogenic” or hormonal modulation
Deep immune activation
Pharmacologists point to plant constituents such as saponins and complex polysaccharides as key components in the immunological role of herbs, but we have to remember that herbs act as biological wholes, not simply as vehicles for “active ingredient.”
In addition to specific remedies that directly impact immunochemistry, herbal support of general well being will help homeostasis and so the immune system. Finally, deep immune work involves support of the normal body functions of elimination and detoxification.
Surface immune activation
It is facilitated by herbs that promote the immune response to microbial infection. These are the many plants known as antimicrobials.
Remedies in this group work through some hormonal modulation of immune response. The feelings, thoughts, and dreams we have as a response to daily life affects us in many ways, one of which is an immunological response. Most people for example, have experienced getting a cold when work pressure is too great. Using herbs in this group can help the body deal with such stress-related immunological problems.
Helping the body to deal with removal of pollutants and potentially toxic metabolic waste produced internally is at the core of support for the immune system. One herbal approach to detoxification springs from the premise that body is a self healing and homeostatic organism, and that the therapist simply has to support normal process. The body has wonderfully effective mechanisms for ridding the body of waste and poisons, and this can be supported by using simple and safe herbs as long as the eliminative processes are addressed as a whole. The key to detoxification is to support all pathways with gentle herbs, not an attack with herbal Draino!