How To Boost Immunity & Weak Immune System Naturally
The immune system is complex and highly developed, yet its mission is simple: to seek and kill invaders. Natural remedies such as herbs, foods, supplements, and probiotics can help you boost your immunity and keep immune disorders and ailments at bay.
What is immunity & immune system?
The immune system is complex and highly developed, yet its mission is simple: to seek and kill invaders. A person born with a critically defective immune system has a possibility of death due to some infection caused by a virus, bacterium, fungus, or parasite. The lymphatic system is a significant part of the immune system that is an arrangement of lymph nodes and vessels in the body. Lymphatic vessels are narrow tubes that branch similar to the blood vessel, throughout the body. They comprise of a clear fluid known as lymph. Lymph comprises of waste products, tissue fluid, and immune system cells. The lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped clumps of immune system cells connected by lymphatic vessels. They contain critical white blood cells that trap viruses, bacteria, and other invaders, including cancer cells. Other major parts of the immune system are the thymus and bone marrow. These organs are responsible for the formation of white blood cells and leukocytes. Secondary organs that aid the immune system are spleen, tonsils, skin, and liver.
Types of immune system disorders
Two types mainly characterize immune system disorder:
1. Immunodeficiency disorders
2. Autoimmune disorders
Immunodeficiency disorders are characterized by the inability of the immune system to fight against bacteria and viruses. Whereas autoimmune disorders are characterized by the inability of the immune system to differentiate between foreign cells and your cells. Asthma, Crohn's disease (inflammatory bowel disease), and familial Mediterranean fever, all result from an over-reaction of the immune system. A vital role of the immune system's role is to differentiate between invaders and your body's own cells. When it does not make this distinction, a reaction against 'self' cells and molecules causes autoimmune disease. [1,2]
What is in the immune system?
The major organs of the body responsible for the immune system are the lymphatic system, thymus, and bone marrow. White blood cells originate from the bone marrow, which includes macrophages, neutrophils, dendritic cells, eosinophils, basophils, and natural killer cells. These cells are the part of the innate immunity which are present by birth and are active all the time. Specialized leucocytes, which are called lymphocytes, are produced by the lymphatic system. These cells are part of the acquired immune system as this immunity is achieved through the life processes.
There are two types of lymphocytes, which are B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes. B-lymphocytes are matured in the bone marrow, and T-lymphocytes are matured in the thymus. These lymphocytes are specialized defense cells of the immune system, which act particularly and exclusively for all the bacteria and viruses. For every different virus or bacteria, a mixed lymphocyte is produced by the body. Hence, vaccination during childhood is crucial as it provides memory to the lymphocytes regarding different bacteria and viruses.
Immune system disorders
The disorder of the immune system are mainly of two types:
1. Immunodeficiency disorders: Immunodeficiency disorders weaken the immune system in such a way that they distort the body's ability to protect itself against viruses, bacteria, and parasites. This type of disease makes an individual susceptible to viral or bacterial infections. A person may die not because of the weakened immune system but due to the opportunistic infections caused by bacteria and viruses. As per a study, these are the most common examples of immunodeficiency disorder:
• Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)
It is an example of immune deficiency that is present from birth. Children are always in danger of infections from fungi, bacteria, and viruses. This disorder is also called "bubble boy disease."
• Temporarily acquired immunodeficiency
The immune system is weakened due to the use of certain medications. The immune system can become weak because of treatments like chemotherapy. It can also happen in people following surgical organ transplants who take medicine to prevent organ rejection. The immune system can also be compromised due to smoking, alcohol, and poor nutrition.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, is an acquired viral infection that destroys certain crucial immune system cells that weaken the immune system. Subjects with HIV/AIDS become seriously ill with common diseases that most people can fight off. [3,4]
2. Autoimmune disorders: An autoimmune disorder is a medical condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your own cells. Usually, the immune system can differentiate between foreign cells and your cells. But in the case of people with autoimmune disorders, the immune system mistakenly identifies your cells as a foreign body and releases proteins, which are antibodies that attack healthy cells. Some autoimmune diseases target only one organ like Type I diabetes, while some others like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) affects the entire body. As per different studies, examples of various autoimmune disorders are as follows: 
• Type I Diabetes
The immune system destroys and attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, which help regulate blood sugar levels.
• Rheumatoid arthritis
In this disorder, the immune system attacks the joints and results in soreness and stiffness in the joint, which results in extreme pain.
• Multiple sclerosis
In this disorder, the myelin sheath of the protecting coating of the nerve cells is destroyed by the immune system. This damage reduces the transmission speed of messages between the brain and spinal cord to the rest of our body.
• Inflammatory bowel disease
The immune system causes inflammation of the inner lining of the intestinal wall, which causes Crohn's disease and Ulcerative colitis.
• The systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
This disorder results in skin disease, which affects the entire body, along with all the organs present in the body. The common symptoms of this disorder are joint pain, fatigue, and rashes.
• Myasthenia gravis
This disorder affects the nerve impulses that help the brain to control the muscles. When communication between the muscles and the nerves is impaired, the muscles cannot function properly. It results in muscle weakness and later may even cause loss of muscle control. [6,7]
Natural remedies to boost immunity
While looking for how to boost your immune system, look to these lifestyle changes, foods, supplements, and herbs.
- Exercise: Having physical activity as part of your daily and weekly regimen is vitally important to strengthen your immune system.
- Reduce Stress: Research studies have shown that chronic stress can suppress protective immune responses and exacerbate pathological immune responses. Reducing stress by yoga or meditation can be a great tool to boost immunity.
- Get Sleep: Getting enough sleep is critical for a healthy immune system. Otherwise, the immune system will not function properly.
- Reduce or eliminate alcohol: Consuming too much alcohol can definitely impact immune function, and that's the reason why you will want to cut back on alcohol to resist infections and promote immune system health.
- Take Protective Measures: Whenever there are germs and bugs moving around, it is important to protect yourself and those around you. This means to regularly wash your hands for at least 20 minutes, and minimize touching your face
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D may modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses, and a vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased autoimmunity in addition to an increased susceptibility to disease.
- Probiotics: Since the leaky gut is a significant source of food sensitivities, autoimmune disease, and immune imbalance, probiotic foods, and nutritional supplements can help.
- Zinc: Zinc supplements are typically used as an over-the-counter cure for fighting colds and other illnesses. It could help to reduce cold-related symptoms and shorten the duration of the common cold.
- Oregano: Oregano essential oil is well known for its immune-boosting benefits. It fights infections naturally because of the antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-parasite compounds.
- Myrrh: Myrrh is a resin that is among the most commonly used essential oils in the world. Myrrh was used historically to treat hay fever, clean and heal wounds, and stop bleeding.
Many of echinacea's chemical components are strong immune system stimulants, which may provide substantial therapeutic value. Research indicates that among the most crucial echinacea advantages is its effects when used on recurring ailments.
- Elderberry: This plant's berries and flowers have been used as medicine for centuries. Even Hippocrates understood that this plant was crucial for how to boost your immune system. He used elderberry due to its wide variety of health benefits, including its ability to fight colds, the flu, allergies, and inflammation.
- Astragalus Root: Astragalus is a plant inside the bean and beans family which has a long history as an immune system booster and disease fighter. Its origin has been used as an adaptogen in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. Although astragalus is among the least researched immune-boosting herbs, there are a few preclinical trials that reveal intriguing immune activity.
- Ginseng: The ginseng plant can enable you to enhance your immune system and fight infections. The roots, stems, and leaves of ginseng are used for maintaining immune homeostasis and improving resistance to illness or disease.
- Bone Broth: Bone broth supports immune function by boosting the health of your gut and reducing inflammation due to leaky gut syndrome.
- Ginger: The ancient Ayurvedic medicine has relied on ginger's ability for how to boost your immune system before recorded history. It is believed that ginger can help to break down the accumulation of toxins in our organs because of its warming effects.
- Green Tea: Studies assessing the effectiveness of green tea reveal that it comprises antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties. It functions as an antifungal and antifungal agent and can be helpful for immunocompromised patients.
- Vitamin C Foods: Vitamin C rich foods, such as citrus fruits and red bell peppers, enhance the health of your immune system by offering anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
In the pursuit of how to boost your immune system, proceed with some caution. If you're using these immune-boosting herbs, nutritional supplements, or essential oils, start slow. If you do not notice any side effects, you can gradually increase the dosage. Giving yourself a break between long doses is essential. Consult your doctor or a health expert before starting a new herbal regimen. Moreover, if you're pregnant, be careful when using essential oils and reach out to your medical care provider before doing this. Any time that you are using natural remedies like plant supplements, it is wise to consult your physician or nutritionist.
There are more than 80 different immune diseases. Often their symptoms overlap, making them difficult to diagnose. A holistic preventive approach can be used to boosting our immunity. A healthy diet, regular exercise, yoga, meditation, adequate sleep, herbs, and supplements are some measures by which an individual can increase his immunity and prevent himself from harmful bacterial or viral infections. Though there is much scope in the future to find an optimum treatment for most of the immune system disorders.
1. NIH, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22243/
2. Geha R, Notarangelo LD, Casanova JL, et al. International Union of Immunological Societies Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases Classification Committee. An update from the International Union of Immunological Societies Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases Classification Committee., J Allergy Clin Immunol, 2007, vol. 120 (pg. 776-794)
3. Cunningham-Rundles C, Bodian C. Common variable immunodeficiency: clinical and immunological features of 248 patients., Clin Immunol, 1999, vol. 92 (pg. 34-48)
4. Durandy A, Revy P, Fischer A. Ochs H, Smith CIE, Puck JM. Autosomal hyper-IgM syndromes caused by an intrinsic B cell defect., Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases: A Molecular and Genetic Approach, 2007New YorkOxford University Press (pg. 269-278)
5. Berengere Gruson and James B. Bussel, Immune Thrombocytopenia, The Autoimmune Diseases, 10.1016/B978-0-12-384929-8.00047-2, (663-675), (2014)
6. Smyth DJ, Plagnol V, Walker NM, Cooper JD, Downes K, Yang JH, Howson JM, Stevens H, McManus R, Wijmenga C, Heap GA, Dubois PC, Clayton DG, Hunt KA, van Heel DA, Todd JA: Shared and distinct genetic variants in type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. N Engl J Med. 2008, 359: 2767-2777. 10.1056/NEJMoa0807917
7. Bowes J, Barton A: Recent advances in the genetics of RA susceptibility. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2008, 47: 399-402. 10.1093/rheumatology/ken005