Ask the Health Expert: Thymus & Adaptive Immunity

These days it is obvious that the strength and health of our immune system is of primary importance. When our immune system is suppressed or not functioning properly, we are less able to defend ourselves against the onslaught of infections, pathogens, viruses, bacteria, and toxins that assail us every day.

Our immune system is made up of two parts, namely the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system. The innate immune system is the body’s first line of defense against disease causing organisms and stops them entering the body e.g., skin, mucus to trap bacteria, stomach acid and tears. Adaptive immunity, also known as acquired immunity is the second line of defense and comes into play if the pathogens slip through the first line of defense. Once the adaptive immune system is exposed to an antigen it activates a response specific to that infectious disease agent and remembers how to deal with it should it appear again in the future.

T-cells are part of the adaptive immune system. This is the immunity the body acquires after it has been exposed to an infection or foreign substance. These cells are trained to recognize and dispose of foreign invaders if they get past the body’s first line of defense.

The thymus gland is situated in the upper chest behind the breastbone just above the heart. It is an essential part of our immune system as it is the training ground for immune T-cells. The immature cells originate in the bone marrow but migrate to the thymus gland to learn to become specialty disease-fighting cells. Here they learn to identify antigens and toxins linked to foreign cell matter. They also learn which are the body’s antigens and recognize them as “self” to prevent them from attacking its own cells and so preventing autoimmune disease.

The thymus gland can also produce several hormones. The hormone Thymulin is involved in the process which induces deafferentation and specific function of each T-cell creating many different types of disease fighters. The hormone Thymosin stimulates the development of the disease fighting T-cells and also stimulates hormones that control growth. Thymic humoral factor increases the immune response to viruses. The thymus gland is also able to make small amounts of hormones produced in other parts of the body like melatonin for sleep and insulin to control blood sugar. Low levels of hormones occur when the body is subject to extreme stress.

The thymus gland develops strongly during childhood and throughout puberty when it is at its peak, providing strong immunity. However, it is not known why, but after this time it starts to shrink and atrophies as we age, and its function becomes immunologically weaker. As thymus function weakens, we become more susceptible to infections like colds and flu, persistent chronic illness, slow wound healing and becoming easily fatigued. The size of the thymus affects the number of T-cells in your blood and so reducing our immune response to foreign antigens. By the age of about seventy the thymus gland has turned into mostly fat.

So, how can we support and nurture our thymus gland? There is great interest in the research into how to rejuvenate this essential gland, and many trial studies are proving to have interesting results. Zinc plays an essential part as it is involved in T-cell function. Vitamin A supports the thymus and stimulates the immune response. High doses of vitamin C maintains the size and weight of the thymus and increases the number of T-cells and Selenium is essential for immunity against viruses and cancer. {See Rejuvenate your thymus gland at www.drjewilliams.com}

Antioxidants are needed to protect the body from oxidative stress which is extremely detrimental to the thymus gland. B vitamins are also essential for helping the thymus hormone production. One of the best super foods for the thymus is Spirulina due to its extremely high concentrations of the full spectrum of carotenoids which strongly influence and support the immune system and thymus to help prevent shrinkage. {see Thymus gland-The Master Control of the Immune system, Dr Michael Murray, ND. On iherb.com.} Dr Paul Lee professor at UC Santa Cruz found that thyme has a major effect on strengthening the thymus gland.

It has been found that stress and negative thinking weakens the thymus gland, while feelings of love and gratitude trust and courage raise the energy and vibration of the gland. An amazing technique known as Thymus Tapping has the ability to boost your immune system and improve your strength and vitality. There are many You Tube videos showing how to perform this technique. I feel that a balanced regime of the supplements I have mentioned before, combined with techniques to reduce stress, and learning the tapping technique will go a long way to “waking up” your immune system and revitalize the body so that it can fight off all the nasty germs that circulate. After all, if the key to supported good health is to activate certain points in the body, we’d be fools not to get tapping.

WRITTEN BY: NATHALIE McNEILL, Fountain Head Health Store, Fergus | 519-787-5123 | fountainhead@cogeco.net

Author: LivingSpaces

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