What are Immune System Boosters: Immune system boosters are supplements that claim to help boost the immune system and fight off disease. The immune system is responsible for protecting our body from foreign invaders, like bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
There are internal and external defenses. The interior protection includes the body’s cells – white blood cells. External security consists of the skin (epidermis), mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth), cilia (trachea), phagocytic cells in all tissues of the body, and humoral antibody response.
Immune system boosters come in different forms, such as capsules, powders, liquids, and teas. They can be over-the-counter dietary supplements (OTC), prescription drugs, or drugs that may require a prescription from your doctor. There are no standard criteria for what constitutes an immune booster supplement.
Types of Immune System Boosters
1) Natural Immune System Boosters
These boost the antibody response, which will help fight off disease. The most common types are Antioxidant Supplements, Zinc, Vitamin C, Echinacea, Fish Oils, CoQ10. However, these aren’t always the best solution.
2) Synthetic Immune Boosters
These are artificial substitutes for the natural immune system and are sometimes made with hazardous material (e.g., mercury). These will not wholly boost your immune system and can even cause suppression of it by overstimulating your body to fight off diseases as soon as they appear, causing them to be weakened by fighting off disease when they don’t need to, leaving them vulnerable to being infected by other conditions.
3) Supplements that are both natural and synthetic (strengthen the immune system and can cause suppression of the immune system if used too much).
The Truth About Immune System Boosters
- There is no scientific or medical proof to support the use or effectiveness of these boosters. There have been very few in-vivo studies to show that these immune system boosters are adequate, with only the studies done with animals and one study showing that fish oils can help boost the immune system of newborn babies. These have all been very limited in what they test for, and none of them studied long-term effects or safety issues.
- They may lead to serious health reasons such as septic shock and kidney disease, but little is known about these long-term effects because the studies have been completed with barely any participants in them. This means that we don’t know the long-term side effects, which can lead to people taking these supplements and believing they are effective when they could just be causing harmful side effects that aren’t seen straight away.
- They tend to be more of a placebo effect, making the user believe in them, so they may feel healthier and avoid illnesses because they think these supplements will help. This is true for all accessories, not just immune system boosters. Some studies show how people who take these supplements feel ‘healthier’ because they believe they are taking them to boost their immune system, so psychologically they think their chances of getting diseases have been lowered (placebo effect).
- There is a potential for immune system suppression and possible increased infection with these supplements and an impact on the development of autoimmunity and chronic disease. The immune system is affected by many factors, such as the amount of stress and illness in the body, whether one has been vaccinated, or exposure to different types of infections, including those that are viral (e.g., colds). These can cause the system to become dysregulated and lead to autoimmune diseases, chronic illness, and susceptibility to infectious diseases. This can occur whether or not these immune system boosters are taken. These are infrequent side effects, but it is essential that these are considered because the body’s biology is what participates in self-healing, so it doesn’t rely on synthetic products similarly to antibiotics.
Side Effects of Immune Boosters
- Overstimulation of the immune system causes an overproduction of white blood cells, leading to an immune attack on the body’s tissues (autoimmune disease).
- The suppression of the immune system leaves a person susceptible to infectious diseases that they may otherwise have been protected from. This results from people taking too many previously mentioned immune boosters or antibiotics, and even though their infections have cleared up, their immune system has not adequately recovered.
- Individuals who suffer from allergy or asthma could develop a sensitivity to these immune boosters, leading to allergic reactions, asthma attacks, and difficult breathing.
- Suppression of the immune system also leaves people at risk of developing other diseases later as the immune system does not defend against these diseases on its own (this is known as “protective antigenic masking” or PAM).
The Best Way to Naturally Boost The Immune System
The best way to naturally boost your immune system is to practice good hygiene, such as regular hand washing, brushing and flossing your teeth, and cleaning surfaces with disinfectant. This will help prevent infections and diseases from spreading through a population. We also need to ensure that we get enough sleep, exercise regularly, eat nutrient dense foods (whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables), drink at least 1 liter of water a day, and reduce stress; this will all help to keep our immune system in good working order.
Viral versus Bacterial Infection
The difference between viral and bacterial infection lies in the source of the infection, and the immune response stimulated against it. Bacterial infections are caused by intracellular pathogens that infect human cells, multiplying within them and causing disease. A common characteristic of these microorganisms is that they tend to affect a single site in the body, such as an ecthyma gangrenosum (boil), mastoiditis (of the ear canal), or meningitis (of the brain). On the other hand, viral attacks generally affect many parts of the body, as exemplified by influenza, smallpox, and measles.
Bacterial infections are easy to treat. In some cases (e.g., erysipelas), a simple antibiotic can be administered intravenously and very rapidly cures the condition; however, in other bacterial infections (e.g., typhoid), antibiotics may not cure the situation because of their mode of action. While viral infections currently have no cures, the treatment is based on reducing the symptoms and alleviating suffering. This can be done with antipyretics like paracetamol, analgesics (like ibuprofen), antacids to relieve heartburn, antidiarrheals (e.g., loperamide) to avoid diarrhea, and fluids to prevent dehydration.
The only way to prevent viral attacks is by vaccination; however, vaccines are still being developed for some viruses.
Many different types of medicine can be used to stimulate the immune system. However, it is essential to be aware of the side effects of these medicines and the long-term health risks associated with them. It is also important to note how synthetic medication can harm the body’s biology and disrupt its processes, which can have adverse effects on the functioning of the immune system. The use of natural alternatives such as alternative medicine homeopathy has been found to boost immune function safely, effectively, and without long-term side effects.