Q: What Is the Best Immune Booster?

Health | | March 17, 2010 at 11:32 am
Photo by Mai Le.

Photo by Mai Le.

Got a question for us? Drop your tricky, random, wacky or plain confusing health question into the Suggest-O-Matic, leave a comment, or tag your tweet questions with #wellwire and our team of experts will answer them in this weekly column.

Q: Can you recommend a product to prevent me from getting sick? Something that I can take at the onset of an illness. Jennifer, Portland, Oregon

A: Before I answer your question, I want you to consider how getting a little sick might actually be a good thing. Sounds weird but naturopathic doctors actually encourage patients to get sick once or twice a year. Here’s why: during illness, your immune system goes back to school and learns about the new infectious agents going around each year. You could call it a “refresher” course for the immune system. In the long run, people who never get sick or hardly ever get sick may be causing their immune system to become more ignorant of what’s out there (or what may be going aberrant with in the body).

Over the course of a cold or flu the immune system is not only initially recognizing an illness, but also making immune markers (immunoglobulins) to that harmful agent for the rest of your life. These immunoglobulins will assist your immune system to remember that it has seen a similar infectious bug before and can later eradicate it. When the immune system is not allowed to run its full course for years, it may start to not recognize more serious cellular abnormalities. The most concerning abnormalities are cancer cells. There is a strong connection in the medical literature between abnormal cells like cancerous ones and latent (hidden) viruses. The immune system has to recognize that a virus has hijacked your body’s cell and kill it. The recognizing immune mechanism occurs through the immune system memory learned during that refresher course in school while a person is sick.

Naturopaths use an “immune booster” as a last resort if a patient tells us they are “constantly” getting sick. The immune booster could be a botanical, a glandular extract, a vitamin or mineral, or even a pharmaceutical drug. Using any substance in a manner that quickly eradicates an illness through by-passing the immune system’s natural course of events may be necessary to get a person out of an acute crisis, but over the long run, it may also be harmful.

That said, I’m not encouraging you to lick the seats in the subway! It’s important to remain balanced with your daily health routine: sleep well, eat well, move your body, take in sunshine and fresh air. What you do to encourage health will make the biggest difference, not the latest or greatest magic pill is, because immune boosters aren’t replacements for healthy living!

GibranDr. Gibran Ramos completed his six year training and internship in Naturopathic and Chinese Medicine at National College of Natural Medicine. Dr. Ramos helps patients transform their lives and optimize their well-being at a private practice in Portland, Oregon.

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  1. Pam says:

    If I feel a sniffle coming on at the early symptom I take 1000 mg vit C, has saved me many a time, if its setting in I add a zinc tablet, garlic capsule, olive leaf drops, zinc must be taken in the fist 12 hors to be effective, thats my back up plan and has worked many a time. I hate colds. The vit c has helped my collagen in my facial skin too as a bonus, Pam

  2. Pam says:

    Forgot to say I use garlic oil capsules with parsley as an added nutrient, I also put eucalyptus oil in a burner, its an anti viral too, there are anti virals in nature

  3. Shiela Witthuhn says:

    Very interesting blog post thanks for writing it I just added your website to my bookmarks and will be back :) By the way this is off topic but I really like your sites layout.

  4. David says:

    Interesting approach in the treatment of HIV (HAART and Pre HAART). With HAART, ARV treatment schedules are commonly used in conjunction with some form of “immune boosting” treatment. We treat carefully in the use of these complementary treatment protocols in that they are easy to register and compete with a range of “natural is better” products from unscrupulus dealers.