The immune system is one of the most complex within the body; medicine is continually trying to keep up with new discoveries about the highly integrative function of cellular signalling that creates our immunologic profile.
Our immune system is always scanning for signs of disturbance, ready to mobilize when infections, uncontrolled cell growth or other foreign material is detected. Immune cells travel through the blood and lymph networks to navigate the body and gather in specific organs. Through either our innate or adaptive immune responses, cytokines are released as messengers to direct the inflammatory response and kill the intended target. The immune system is educated to differentiate self from non-self cells, but when a breakdown in this process occurs, the results can be devastating to the body, as seen in many autoimmune conditions. The immune system has the power to heal, but the ability to destroy; we want this system fighting for us, not against us.
Immunity is more than just a line of defence against infections.
Psychoneuroimmunology refers to the study of how psychological processes affect the functioning of the immune and nervous systems within the body.
Simply put, what you think and feel can directly positively affect or compromise your immune system.
Research has found that immune cells and the nervous system are intimately connected through the gastrointestinal system, and that this is common a site where inflammatory cascades begin.
The nervous and endocrine systems of the body exert control over the immune system through the release of neurotransmitters (such as GABA, Serotonin, etc) and hormones.
Studies have more recently identified small lymph vessel pathways in mice that could connect the brain to the immune cells circulating in spinal fluid, giving more clues into the development of neurological conditions that have an immune component, such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.(1)
The conclusion we can begin to draw from all of this, as well as the existing body of research, is that the immune system reaches into every corner of our body, and controls or is controlled through interacts with our gut, hormones, neurons and more.
The vast, encompassing nature of the immune system makes it well suited to natural whole body treatment. Even small changes to our routines and habits can change the response of our immune systems to work in our favour. Many pharmaceutical approaches to immune dysfunction seek to depress immune action to resolve symptoms; naturopathic medicine can be used as a complementary adjunctive therapy to many drug therapies used in tough immune conditions.
Torgan, Carol (2015). Lymphatic Vessels Discovered in Central Nervous System. National Institute of Health.
Zmora, Niv et al (2017). The Role of the Human Immune System in Metabolic Health and Disease. Cell Metabolism. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2017.02.006
Immune conditions are notoriously difficult to diagnose until they become severe. Triggered immune responses may result in any number of vague, unspecified symptoms, ranging from headaches, fatigue, rashes and joint pain to brain fog, hair loss, digestive upset and more. The naturopathic intake involves careful listening and piecing together of a patient’s history and is suited to teasing out the subtleties of immune dysregulation and detecting the potential causes.
Working with Dr. Roberts, ND on a natural approach to better health may be the right fit for you.
15 Minute Free Consult
for New Patients
Even more research has begun to investigate the immune system’s ability to cross-talk with the metabolic system!