? Who’s the cul­prit,

Jamaica Gleaner - - WESTERN FOCUS -

MANY OF us as par­ents would have ex­pe­ri­enced a fight be­tween two sib­lings and both of them blam­ing each other for the in­ci­dent. At times, the more in­no­cent look­ing-one may be the guiltier. Is this case when it comes to in­fec­tions?

It is well known that the ac­tions of our im­mune sys­tem cause us harm. In­flam­ma­tion, which is pro­duced by the im­mune sys­tem as a fight re­sponse dam­ages our body tis­sues, in­ter­feres with the func­tions of our body sys­tems and dis­torts many pro­cesses, such as heal­ing. In­flam­ma­tion is pro­duced by the im­mune sys­tem as a re­sponse to the pres­ence of cer­tain germs (some bac­te­ria, fungi, viruse etc). This in­flam­ma­tion is usu­ally seen as nec­es­sary but is it re­ally? Are these ‘germs’ in­her­ently harm­ful or is the prob­lem the way the im­mune sys­tem re­sponds to their pres­ence?

In­flam­ma­tion is also pro­duced when our bod­ies are ex­posed to cer­tain chem­i­cals such as clean­ing chem­i­cals, and even cer­tain en­vi­ron­men­tal changes, such as drop in tem­per­a­ture. In­flam­ma­tion pro­duced by the body dur­ing rheumatic fever can cause dam­age to the heart valves and other struc­tures, and there are many other such ex­am­ples. But what about pneu­mo­nia? What about Heli­cobac­ter py­lori, the ap­par­ent oc­ca­sional cul­prit in some stom­ach ail­ments? Who’s the cul­prit?

There are times when it is deemed ap­pro­pri­ate to use a med­i­ca­tion that sup­presses the re­ac­tion of the im­mune sys­tem in cer­tain in­fec­tions, and this ap­proach seems to pro­duce bet­ter re­sults. Should this be done on a more reg­u­lar ba­sis? Part of the prob­lem with the med­i­ca­tions that are used in these cases is that they sup­press the ac­tions of the im­mune sys­tem, and this is viewed as po­ten­tially harm­ful as it is then weaker. But sup­pose the im­mune sys­tem is mod­u­lated so that this neg­a­tive ef­fect is avoided? There are nat­u­ral sup­ple­ments that can mod­u­late the im­mune sys­tem in this way, such as an­tiox­i­dants among oth­ers. Should we be look­ing at this as a way of get­ting bet­ter out­comes in treat­ing in­fec­tions? The im­mune sys­tem has a ten­dency to over­re­act to many things, and this causes many prob­lems for the body, in­clud­ing al­ler­gies. There are sev­eral foods that can worsen this ten­dency to over­re­act (such as dairy prod­ucts) and there are some foods and sup­ple­ments that can re­duce this such as reishi mushroom, pro­bi­otics and turmeric, to name a few. Should we be util­is­ing them more, es­pe­cially when treat­ing in­fec­tions?


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