Science has come on leaps and bounds in understanding our immune system and how it works. I have been working with the body for over 20 years and have an interest in wanting to know more about how it works to heal us.
As a child and into my 20’s, I suffered with recurrent tonsillitis, my mother would take me to see the doctor who would was always prescribe penicillin. One day my body had had enough, and I developed an allergic reaction to penicillin. I continued to suffer with tonsillitis. It got to the point that when I was in my mid-20’s, I was booked in to have a tonsillectomy. Curiously, the night before as I contemplated having the op, I had a very strong sense and heard an inner voice say, “No, don’t do it”. Based on this strong intuitive message, and the fact that for me antibiotics were not a cure, the next morning I rang the hospital and said I wouldn’t be having the operation!
I had a realisation, or a sense that the tonsillitis was more than just a purely physical illness and I really wanted to get to the root and cause of it. I had a feeling that there were also underlying emotional and psychological factors and I was interested to find other approached to treatment rather than antibiotics.
I embarked on a journey that took me into the holistic realm of meditation, energy, herbs and essential oils – which I found “cured” the tonsillitis. This positive experience started me on the path of holistic therapies and I began my first training in Aromatherapy to learn about the use and therapeutic properties of essential oil.
My interest in the immune system was also sparked by having children and that pertinent and important question, of whether to, “vaccinate or not to vaccinate?” I began to research into it more in order to better understand how it works, and the effects of the allopathic approach to our health. I soon learned that our immune system is not dependent on vaccinations to make it strong, and is affected not only by the food we eat but also by how we feel. When we feel happy, when we receive touch, are hugged and loved. oxytocin and endorphins are released in the body and contribute to positive health and wellbeing.
I am completely fascinated by the anatomy & physiology of our immune system, as it is highly complex and organised. This led me to study Manual Lymphatic Drainage, a system that specifically targets our immune system by reducing inflammation and congestion. Today’s understanding and view of disease is that it starts as inflammation in the body.
Our immune system is our inherent inbuilt protective and defence mechanism, containing within it the blueprint of healing and regenerating powers. It is a living, breathing, dynamic system of unique components, organs, structures and processes that communicate and work with the whole body to maintain homeostasis.
Lymph Vessels & Fluid
Like our planet earth, we are made up of 1/3 matter and 2/3 water. 5% is made up of blood, 15% connective tissue and 40-45% intracellular fluid, also known as lymph. Lymph fluid collects between cells and drains into networks of tiny capillaries in tissue spaces that then unite to form larger vessels called Lymph vessels, nodes and glands that span the entire body.
This primordial ocean similar to seawater, is where all chemical reactions and metabolism take place, it is a clear fluid, which differentiates it from blood. It’s important this fluid keeps moving through the lymphatic system of vessels, as it is our natural filtering and drainage system, detoxifying and cleansing our internal environment to aid the healthy delivery of nutrients, hormones and proteins to all the cells. If this didn’t happen, our blood would become poisoned by the accumulation of metabolites, debris, toxins and invaders.
The lymph is stimulated by nerve impulses, however it is a one-way valve transport system that doesn’t have it’s own pump like the heart pumps the blood, plus it has to work upwards against the forces of gravity. This is important to know, as we can aid the process of lymphatic drainage by taking exercise, keeping hydrated, breathing fully and deeply, eating healthily to encourage good peristalsis of the intestines, take rest and time out to relax.
Our innate immunity knows to defend the body from the external environment by wrapping the body in a protective membrane: our skin. When the body is in optimum health, it can differentiate between self and non-self, producing specialised cells known as “killer cells” that can detect and eliminate pathogens. Sometimes debris gets trapped into the lymph node where it is sealed and contained so it doesn’t wreak havoc. Our immune cells (T cells and B cells) originate in bone marrow and are then transported to the Lymph Nodes, Thymus & Spleen.
Our immune system is also responsive. When we are ill, our white blood cells replicate and grow and have memory cells to recognise a particular disease and when we come in contact with that disease again, the body makes antibodies to protect us before the disease takes a hold. Not only this we have our own thriving communities of intestinal flora and fauna that form our own gut bacteria culture, that further help to keep us well.
The Stress Response and the Immune System
Stress impairs our immune response by stimulating the “fight or flight” mechanism releasing adrenaline and noradrenaline in the body. The long-term effect is that it impairs the production of white blood cells and therefore lowers our immune response. We have seen an increase in auto-immune diseases, where the body turns against itself and sees some of it’s own cells as invaders.
Stress also inhibits digestion and the production of growth hormones. A lymphatic system that is overwhelmed may look to the skin to get rid of the rubbish and toxins of the body. When we feel sluggish, low in energy, demotivated and at the mercy of all viral, fungal and bacterial infections we know our immune system is not functioning as well as it could be.
The Mind/Body Connection and the Immune System
The immune response was considered as a purely physical system, then in the 1980’s it was discovered that it is a highly intelligent responsive system, in that immune cells can participate in the chemical messages that are sent from the brain. This means that thoughts, moods, sensations and expectations are transmitted to the immune cells. They respond to both positive and negative thoughts and feelings.
Research on those who meditate, shows that:-
• meditation creates a positive mental and physical environment for the immune system to flourish.
• Meditation boosts antibodies (ref: http://bit.ly/2hm0Jyo)
• Electrical activity in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain controls positive emotions, our ability to “self-sooth”. When stimulated it helps the immune to function more effectively.
With it’s intelligence, ability to communicate with the brain, amazing healing abilities, it feels empowering that with positive mental energy, we can create the right environment for it to thrive. It’s truly magical!