Friday, 26 October 2012

Strengthen Your Immune System Naturally

Problems of the Immune System
Disorders of the immune system fall into four main categories:

Immunodeficiency disorders
These occur when a part of the immune system is not present or is not working properly. Sometimes a person is born with an immunodeficiency although symptoms of the disorder might not appear until later in life.  Immunodeficiency can also be acquired through infection or produced by drugs.

Autoimmune disorders
In autoimmune disorders, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's healthy organs and tissues as though they were foreign invaders.  Autoimmune diseases include:

  • Lupus, a chronic disease marked by muscle and joint pain and inflammation
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, a disease in which the body's immune system acts as though certain body parts
  • Scleroderma, a chronic autoimmune disease that can lead to inflammation and damage of the skin, joints, and internal organs
  • Ankylosing spondylitis, a disease that involves inflammation of the spine and joints, causing stiffness and pain
  • Juvenile dermatomyositis, a disorder marked by inflammation and damage of the skin and muscles
Allergic Disorders
Allergic disorders occur when the immune system overreacts to exposure to antigens in the environment. The substances that provoke such attacks are called allergens. The immune response can cause symptoms such as swelling, watery eyes, and sneezing, and even a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. Medications called antihistamines can relieve most symptoms.  Allergic disorders include:

  • Asthma, a respiratory disorder that can cause breathing problems, frequently involves an allergic response by the lungs. If the lungs are oversensitive to certain allergens (like pollen, molds, animal dander, or dust mites), it can trigger breathing tubes in the lungs to become narrowed, leading to reduced airflow and making it hard for a person to breathe.
  • Eczema is an itchy rash also known as atopic dermatitis. Although atopic dermatitis is not necessarily caused by an allergic reaction, it more often occurs in kids and teens who have allergies, hay fever, or asthma or who have a family history of these conditions.
  • Allergies of several types can occur in kids and teens. Environmental allergies (to dust mites, for example), seasonal allergies (such as hay fever), drug allergies (reactions to specific medications or drugs), food allergies (such as to nuts), and allergies to toxins (bee stings, for example) are the common conditions people usually refer to as allergies.
Cancers of the Immune System
Cancer occurs when cells grow out of control. This also can happen with the cells of the immune system.  Lymphoma involves the lymphoid tissues.  Leukemia involves abnormal overgrowth of leukocytes.

Although immune system disorders usually can't be prevented, you can help your immune system stay stronger and fight illnesses with natural herbs as well.

I have written articles on Cat’s Claw and Echinacea as great immune boosters, but another herb that has powerful properties in strengthening immunity is Lapacho.

(tabebuia impetiginosa pau d’arco)

Available as
Dried Bark

2 to 3 Capsules of 500mg finely ground bark powder taken three times daily
2 to 5 Grams of powdered bark daily

Using whole bark has no serous side-effects, nor are there reported interactions with other medicines.  However, this herb is not suitable during pregnancy or lactation. Care should be taken if using concentrated extracts, as overdosing can cause vomiting, nausea and bleeding.

What it is?
Of all the herbs used by the ancient Incas, lapacho was one of the mainstays.   In the four centuries since the Spanish Conquest, one herb has cropped up from time to time in Europe.  Czar Nicholas II and Ghandi are both known to have done what millions of Brazilians do – start their day with a cup of lapacho tea.

Also called pau d’arco, ipe roxo or taheebo, lapacho is a rain forest medicine made from the inner bark of the large native South American tree known as tabebuia.  Throughout South America, indigenous tribes have drunk tea made from the shredded inner bark to boost the effectiveness of the body’s own immune defence mechanisms.  They have also used this traditional remedy for centuries in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, infection and also some forms of cancer.

As far back as 1882, one of the lapacho’s constituents was isolated and identified as lapachol, an anti-microbial and potentially tumour-fighting chemical.  Today, scientific evidence shows that crude extracts of lapachol – more potent than refined versions – offer effective protection against a wide range of bacterial and fungal organisms, including Candida albicans, which causes thrush.

What it does
Rain forest Indians have always valued lapacho as a powerful medicine for strengthening immunity and to protect them against gut parasites.  Research at Sao Paulo, Harvard, the University of Munich, the University of Rio de Janeiro and the American National Cancer Institute has increased awareness of this amazing natural medicine.  In many parts of the world, physicians are recognising it as an aid to patients with Immune-deficiency illnesses.
If you are tired all the time or suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, lapacho can be a great aid to recovery due to its positive effects on the immune system.

Remember to stay healthy with exercise, plenty of water and a good night’s sleep. 
Until next time, always remember to laugh often, love freely, and live your life out loud!

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