Immune System Problems


What is it?

The immune system protects us from bacteria, fungi and viruses entering the body.


What to look for

People with poor immune systems will commonly be afflicted with:-

  • colds and flu and various other

  • infections;

  • tiredness;

  • allergies.

There are disorders of the immune system which are also covered in this series please go to the appropriate sections - AIDS, allergies, Arthritis, Asthma, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Diabetes, hay fever, Lupus, and Multiple Sclerosis.


The immune systems main task is to protects us from infection an invasion by all sorts of bacteria, viruses and other substances. In fighting off these trespassers, your body produces symptoms of illness.


When an invading bacterium or virus enters the bloodstream, the cells of the immune system absorb it, then two other types of immune cells… B cells and T cells.

B cells produce antibodies to fight the invader directly.

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T cells help in various other ways. These cells secrete interferon, increasing their cell killing ability. As well as this, the T cells no when enough is enough and to stop all action. Once the immune system remembers an invader, they attack and repel it automatically - this is when we become resistant to disease.

In most cases, the immune system does its job well, but occasionally there are problems in its response to the environment.

An overactive immune system, for example, results in autoimmune disorders. In these cases, the immune system mistakes normal, healthy tissues for foreign invaders and attacks them.

Examples include rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, Type 1 diabetes, and scleroderma. Researchers suspect that chronic fatigue syndrome and Lou Gehrig's disease may be autoimmune diseases as well.

Another type of immune error occurs when the system overreacts to something harmless, as with allergies.

The opposite occurs when the immune system fails to respond enough, resulting in disease such as AIDS.

For people who are generally healthy, it's possible for the immune system to become temporarily affected and you may as a result come down with conditions quicker and for a longer time.



There are certain triggers that can interfere with the proper functioning of the immune system. Theses are toxins, stress, poor diet, lack of exercise and sleep, and abuse of alcohol, emotional stress and cigarettes. Certain medications, radiation therapy, and too many antibiotics can hamper your immune system. Scientists believe the problem may be genetic as well.


Traditional Treatment

Your doctor will perform tests on you to properly diagnose the condition. He or she may also suggest that you alter your eating habits as well.

Your doctor may discuss with you any stressful events or situations that are adversely affecting your health and suggest making necessary lifestyle changes.

One option is the use of medications and injections to give your immune system a jump start. You will need to discuss the options with your doctor.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

There are a number of things that can help immune disorders. You should view the sections on multiple sclerosis, arthritis, lupus, allergies and diabetes for possible remedies. Always consult your Health Professional before trying alternative treatments.


Chinese Herbs

Dried slices of polyporus, from the mushroom Polyporus umbellatus, can be made into a tea and drunk for a tonic effect on the immune system. Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) tea or tincture may help combat viral infections and enhance the functioning of immune cells. The traditional Minor Bupleurum Combination, taken as a tea or in tablet form, may strengthen the immune system. Ginseng (Panax ginseng) may improve immune functioning by protecting against the damage caused by free radicals.



Try inhaling lemon essential oil in a vapouriser, or as a blend with carrier oil. This can be used in a massage. (see our Aromatherapy section)


Herbal Therapies

Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) may have antiviral and antibacterial properties. Garlic (Allium sativum) has anti-infective and immune-enhancing qualities. Shiitake (Lentinus edodes), enokidake (Flammulina velutipes), and reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) mushrooms may promote production of antibodies.


Studies have shown that feeling positive and happy can have a beneficial effect on the immune system while negative emotions have the opposite effect.


Dietary Considerations

It is wise to eat a diet low in fats and high in fresh fruit and vegetables, brown rice, fish, poultry and also to have plenty of filtered water. Avoid too much coffee and carbonated drinks.

Fresh garlic boosts your immune system and is a natural antibiotic. Also you may wish to try supplements such as vitamin B complex, vitamin C and E, and Echinacea.


Personal Care

Identify the things that cause you stress in your life and try to avoid them, or reduce the affect that they have on you.



Change your habits to include things that actively promote good health.

Avoid overeating and overindulging in alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco. Get plenty of rest, exercise regularly, and eat a balanced diet.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you suspect you have an immune system disorder.













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