Your immune system is your body’s defense against infections and other harmful invaders. Without it, you would constantly get sick from bacteria or viruses. We don’t notice that it is working until it doesn’t.
The lymph, or lymphatic, system is a major part of the immune system. It's a network of lymph nodes and vessels. Lymphatic vessels are thin tubes that branch, like blood vessels, throughout the body. They carry a clear fluid called lymph. Lymph contains tissue fluid, waste products, and immune system cells. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped clumps of immune system cells that are connected by lymphatic vessels. They contain white blood cells that trap viruses, bacteria, and other invaders, including cancer cells.
Lymphocytes have a variety of different functions. They attack viruses and other pathogens. They also make antibodies which help to destroy bacteria. Lymphocytes are divided into T cells and B cells.
T Cells: Tcells are white blood cells called lymphocytes. There are many different types of T cells that all perform different functions, but among the most important are Helper T cells and Killer T cells. Both of these types of cells bind cells in the body and can identify whether the cell is healthy and belongs to the body or whether it's not healthy or doesn't belong. In the latter two cases, the T cell will start an immune reaction to destroy the unhealthy cell or germ. T cells can identify which particular illness they are dealing with (they are specific) and can share this information with other immune cells, so they are like the "police chiefs" of white blood cells. T cells are like the police chiefs of white blood cells.
B Cells: Unlike T cells, B cells cannot directly attack infected cells. Instead, B cells primarily produce proteins called antibodies that can hijack invaders as they travel in the blood.
When a foreign particle enters your body, B cells recognise it, binding to the antigen on its surface. This activates the B cell which then changes into a plasma cell. The plasma cell makes antibodies specific to that antigen. Antibodies can immobilise bacteria, encourage other cells to 'eat' the pathogen and activate other immune defences. While some B cells become plasma cells, others don't. These cells live on as memory B cells that respond more vigorously should the same antigen invade your body again.
When your immune system doesn't work the way it should, it is called an immune system disorder. Your immune system may:
Having an allergic reaction is the most common example of an overactive immune system. Dust, mold, pollen, and foods are examples of allergens. Some conditions caused by an overactive immune system are:
- Allergic rhinitis: Sneezing, a runny nose, sniffling, and swelling of your nasal passages from indoor allergens like dust and pets or outdoor allergens like pollens or molds.
- Food Allergy: While any food can cause an adverse reaction, eight types of food account for about 90 percent of all reactions. They are eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shelfish, wheat, and soy. Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe. The most severe allergic reaction is anaphylaxis — a life-threatening whole-body allergic reaction that can impair your breathing, cause a dramatic drop in your blood pressure and affect your heart rate. Anaphylaxis can come on within minutes of exposure to the trigger food. It can be fatal and must be treated promptly with an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline).
- Asthma: The response in your lungs can cause coughing, wheezing, and trouble breathing. Asthma can be triggered by common allergens like dust or pollen or by an irritant like tobacco smoke.
- Eczema: An allergen causes an itchy rash known as atopic dermatitis.
Your immune system can be weakened by certain medicines, for example. This can happen to people on chemotherapy or other drugs used to treat cancer. It can also happen to people following organ transplants who take medicine to prevent organ rejection. Also, infections like the flu virus, mono (mononucleosis), and measles can weaken the immune system for a brief time. Your immune system can also be weakened by smoking, alcohol, and poor nutrition.
In autoimmune diseases, the body attacks normal, healthy tissues. The cause is unknown. It is probably a combination of a person's genes and something in the environment that triggers those genes. Three common autoimmune diseases are:
- Type 1 Diabetes: The immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Insulin removes sugar from the blood to use as energy.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: This type of arthritis causes swelling and deformities of the joints. An auto-antibody called rheumatoid factor is in the blood of some people with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Lupus: This disease that attacks body tissues, including the lungs, kidneys, and skin. Many types of auto-antibodies are found in the blood of people with lupus.
There are connections between the immune system and the central nervous system. Acupuncture stimulates the central nervous system to trigger the brain to release chemical messages that govern the immune system in a natural way. Many people are now turning to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to boost immune power and either prevent or treat a host of illnesses. TCM offers an effective way to treat both acute and chronic ailments, and it has a longstanding history of enhancing the immune system that is now being supported by modern bio-medical research.
Too active and autoimmune disease
According to TCM, immune system disorders occur when there is imbalance within the body. Imbalance can come from an excess or deficiency of yin and yang that disrupts the flow of Qi, or vital energy, through the body. Acupuncture is used to help the body restore balance, treating the root of the disorder, while specifically addressing the symptoms that are unique to each individual.
Clinical research has shown that acupuncture causes physical responses in nerve cells, the pituitary gland, and parts of the brain. These responses can cause the body to release proteins, hormones, and brain chemicals that control a number of body functions. It is proposed that, by these actions, acupuncture affects blood pressure, body temperature and the immune system.
Too weak - Acupuncture boosts immune system
In chinese medicine, “qi” is the defensive energy that circulates at the surface of the body. When it is strong, it acts as a powerful shield against invading foreign microorganisms, known as “evil qi”. However when wei qi is weak, it’s usual protective barrier is easily penetrated and illness ensues.
Immune weakness is typically due to deficient Qi of the lungs and stomach. When these organs are weak, symptoms such as allergies, diarrhea, fatigue, cough, and recurring infections are commonplace. For these issues, acupuncture points are chosen on the lung and stomach meridians to supplement the Qi, thereby strengthening immune function.
Acupuncture point, stomach 36 (ST-36), which is also called Zusanli, is one of best acupoint for strengthing immunity and overall energy. It is often used to strengthen weak digestion and improve digestive disorders, ranging from constipation to diarrhea, gas, bloating, vomiting, and nausea. Zusanli means “leg three miles”. The name refers to the ability of this point to greatly strengthen energy, so that a person can walk another three miles, even when exhausted.
Acupuncture has a regulatory effect, meaning that it works by establishing homeostasis or balance, the fundamental premise of its philosophy. When certain body functions are in excess or overdrive, acupuncture can help calm them down to normal levels. Likewise, when certain functions are extremely deficient or impaired, acupuncture exerts a stimulating effect to help restore normal activity.
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