If you have read our other articles, hopefully you have begun to nourish your body and support elimination in preparation for the cold season ahead.
You should also begin seeing subtle changes in how your body responds to daily stressors and how your digestion, mood and energy levels are slowly improving.
If you are currently in good health, please don’t make the mistake of pushing too hard and rushing this important process. Only if you are not in good health and there is an urgency do I suggest you turn up the dial -- we’ll discuss this in a future topic.
Here are some helpful guidelines for supporting a healthy immune system response:
Q: What is the difference between stimulating and modulating the immune system?
A: The ultimate goal when trying to produce an immune stimulating or modulating effect is to bring balance back to one’s immune system response.
A healthy and balanced immune system is capable of keeping us healthy and happy.
- When the term modulating is used, it refers to bringing something that is overstimulated or lacks the “get up and go” back to a normal healthy state. An example of an overstimulated system would be an autoimmune condition like lupus, MS, arthritis.
- When we speak of immune stimulation we refer to conditions where the immune system has become weakened and needs support to allow optimal function to occur. An example would be AIDS.
Q: Why would someone want to stimulate or modulate their immune system?
A: When one’s goal is to achieve a healthy immune system response, one should look for a proper response from the body to deal with what is attempting to bring harm.
For example if you were to come in contact with the flu virus and the immune system is working properly, the body would begin to defend itself in a healthy manner. The body would first produce a fever making it a hostile environment for the pathogen, and then, it would begin to produce effects like excess mucus, sweating, vomiting, coughing and diarrhea in an effort to remove it. All of these effects are perfectly healthy and normal ways for the body to rid itself of what it does not want or need. This is the immune system doing it’s job.
Q: What is an autoimmune condition?
A: An autoimmune condition is essentially when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body.
Under normal circumstances, your immune system can tell the difference between invading pathogens and your body’s own healthy cells. In the case of an autoimmune condition, the immune system mistakes part of your body as a foreign invader. Some autoimmune conditions attack only one area like ulcerative colitis, while others attack the entire body, like lupus.
While modern conventional medicine seems to have found no specific answer to why some people get these conditions, lifestyle factors like stress and diet seem to be the most likely culprits that trigger this unhealthy inflammation response by the body. Over the last 10 years, I have noticed a significant increase of autoimmune conditions. I strongly believe that this is coming from systems that have been undernourished and over taxed, the perfect recipe for disaster.
Q: How does having an autoimmune condition effect whether you stimulate or modulate one’s immune response?
A: Typically when we speak of an autoimmune illness, we are referring to conditions where the immune system is “on fire” or overstimulated. It is well known that inflammation plays a role which leads to this end result. Initially an unhealthy stress response is what began this cascade of events. Because the desired end result is to bring balance to the immune system response and put out the fire, it is often best to not stimulate.
Q: What items from Z Natural Foods would best support a healthy immune system response whether stimulating or modulating?
A: There seems to be much confusion about herbs and foods that support a healthy immune system response in either a modulating or stimulating fashion. Again, because the goal is to reestablish balance, it is more about the length of time you use something that you will see its effects. The longer you use an individual herb or formula (even medicinal herbs), the more the effects become balancing versus stimulating. Understand that this rule is not set in stone. This is not a perfect linear progression, as natural healing is more of a roller coaster with many ups and downs. This is how the body heals itself.
Some herbs at Z Natural Foods that may support a healthy immune response are:
- Medicinal Mushrooms- Chaga, reishi and cordyceps can be used on a daily basis all year around but especially during the cold winter months. Medicinal mushrooms were studied for the long-term tonifying effects and therefore can be used for an extended period of time to bring balance to the immune system response. Medicinal mushrooms contain a variety of compounds like polysaccharides, enzymes, antioxidants and prebiotics.
- Nutritional yeast- This is a highly nourishing food that has very unique qualities due to the process it goes through to make it. The end result is a food that provides constituents similar to those found in medicinal mushrooms which may support a healthy immune system response.
About Michael Stuchiner
Michael Stuchiner is an experienced Master Herbalist, the Head of Education for Z Natural Foods, a teacher and an accomplished author. With a 16-year specialization in medicinal herbs, Mike also has a vast knowledge in tonic and adaptogenic herbalism. Mike has enjoyed a 25-year career as an elite-level competitive powerlifter where he learned to heal his ‘mind and body’ as an avid user of herbal remedies.
As an “in-the-trenches” herbalist, Mike has done more than 85 speaking engagements, consulted with clients ranging from young to elderly, worked with athletes in virtually all sports and with clients who have “dis-ease” states of a wide variety. Mike also mentors student Master Herbalists and will continue to teach the next generation to grow a deeper wisdom of the human body through appropriate herbal remedies.
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