The Immune System
Immunity, disease and ill health
Our approach to your immunity is all about understanding the fundamentals of disease and ill health. In relation to immunity the skin is considered the first line of defence, the integrity of which must remain strong and unbroken.
Traditionally herbalists gauge the temperature, colour, texture and condition of the skin in order to determine the progress of a condition or disease. In addition to its own nerve and blood supply, the skin contains temperature regulators, sweat and oil glands, and provides us with good markers of disease processes and progression – at the surface, deeper in the tissues or penetrating and affecting the vital organs.
The Main Focus of a Herbalist’s Approach
Often we lack the necessary components to rebuild and replenish our immune systems, and this is when disease-bearing micro-organisms may take the opportunity to strike. The main focus of a medical herbalist’s approach to infection is the judicious use of herbs which engage and strengthen the body’s own natural defences – cooling the body by precipitating a sweat achieved by opening the sweat pores in the skin, increasing blood and lymph circulation, and toning and supporting the skin’ s nerve and blood supply. This herbal approach has been used effectively for centuries for acute infections.
A Centuries Old Approach Borne Out by Modern Medicine
We know that the hypothalamus gland, nestling in the brain, with its dual control of both the nervous and the hormone (endocrine) systems does indeed control the skin indicators that are markers of health. It regulates the skin to protect the inner organs from sudden environmental change, opening and closing the pores, increasing and decreasing blood volume and perspiration to induce shivering. This master gland also regulates the workings of the vital organs.
Herbalists Work on Multiple Levels
Herbalists work on multiple levels by encouraging the breakdown and removal of the by-products of infection through the lymph and spleen, the liver, kidneys, and the digestion. This approach works not only at the level of the skin. Herbalists also consider the importance of the mucosal linings of our digestive tracts, our mouths, ears, nose, and lungs and our genito-urinary tracts – all of which are a continuation of the skin.
Herbal medicine is also uniquely useful in balancing the immune system during chronic infection, preventing it from causing autoimmune damage.