Your Immune System and Meniere's
Disease: Delicate Yet Critical How It Serves You And Why You Need To Keep It
Why a carrot is good and a milk chocolate bar is
In the following information, I want to describe what the
Immune System is and how it works and how it is connected to your Meniere's
Disease symptoms. Then I'll mention some situations that
can overload it and cause it to be less than protective and productive. I'll
show how it can be brought back to function adequately. Lastly, I want to
show you how to keep it healthy. As usual this information is for
educational purposes only. If you think of something that might be happening
to you, please check with your doctor or other health care professional.
Don't diagnose and treat yourself. But do take the time to
read and research. I am including several professional and trustworthy links
for just that purpose. I write these articles so you can have an intelligent
conversation with your doctor. Not that you are not intelligent, but that
you can ask the right questions and understand the conversation in a more
productive way. If you pay close attention you will realize that rarely does
anyone ever discuss what a healthy body actually is or needs to stay that
way. We take it for granted that somehow...magically, things appear that
keeps your body in good working order.
I wonder what went through your mind as you read title. Did this catch your
attention? Or are you like I was a few years ago...thinking this is NOT for
me. This is only for academics and health fanatics. This topic had no
interest for me. I felt I didn't need to know it and didn't want to spend
any time understanding it. It just didn't SEEM to relate to anything in my
life. If someone mentioned "immune system" or "vitamins" or taking something
other than Vitamin C to protect myself when I had a cold, I had absolutely
What changed my mind? I saw the effects of medications on elderly people,
who I thought was drugged into "unreality". I also watched many people die
of diseases at a relatively young age. I saw many older people go on happily
well into their nineties. I asked myself what the difference could be.
Your personal experiences have very strong ways of "trapping" your
attention, especially if it's your own body telling you to wake up.
Suddenly, hearing about the need to protect or rebuild your immune system
takes on a totally different meaning.
Suddenly you feel connected. It doesn't sound so unreal
any more. As is so often the case, things don't matter until you are
personally faced with a major and maybe life-threatening situation for
yourself or a loved one. It was at such a stage, that I was introduced to
understanding how degenerative diseases could be slowed down and what I
could personally do the prevent them.
These days, my life revolves around explaining how the immune system works,
how it has broken down, and why you really need to keep it healthy. This is
not some far off ethereal, wishy-washy, "tip toe through the tulips"
concept. It is a very practical choice you have to make consciously, and
apply to your health NOW. We have made giant steps in understanding our
bodies: how they die (slowly and painfully) and how to keep them alive
(happily and healthily). Ponder this...why do some people live healthily
till they die and why so others limp along painfully to a sad ending? Why
wouldn't we all die the same way?
And that is what I want to share here. This is about
living everyday and every minute to your best possible potential. Not living
in anticipation of your death, but taking an active role in creating a good
life for yourself. And the factual part is that only YOU can create it for
yourself. Neither your doctor nor your spouse, nor anyone else, can do this
for you. This is a brutal, but real fact. The other scary part is that the
choice to take control is YOURS. So if you choose to move forward in health
and longevity, you need to learn how to do this.
I am going to give you a variety of descriptions, definitions, and research
sites. I urge you to start paying attention to what is going on ...or not
going on, in your own body. This is how you can prevent many degenerative
conditions from getting a foothold. That includes cancer. One marvellous
place to find all sorts of information is "Medline". It is a site used by
many health care professionals and the research community.
(If the links don't work, cut and paste them into your browser.) I suggest
you use these links and save them for all sorts of future research.
Definitions from Medline.
Just by reading the definitions, you will get some basic
"The immune system protects the body from potentially harmful substances.
The inflammatory response (inflammation) is part of innate immunity. It
occurs when tissues are injured by bacteria, trauma, toxins, heat, or any
THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
The immune system protects the body from potentially
harmful substances by recognizing and responding to so-called antigens.
Antigens are large molecules (usually proteins) on the surface of cells,
viruses, fungi, or bacteria. Some non-living substances such as toxins,
chemicals, drugs, and foreign particles (such as a splinter) can be
antigens. Substances that contain these antigens are recognized and
destroyed by the immune system. Even your own body cells have proteins that
are antigens (these include a group of antigens called HLA antigens). Your
immune system learns to see these antigens as "normal" and does not usually
react against them.
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000821.htm "The immune
response is the way the body recognizes and defends itself against
microorganisms, viruses, and substances recognized as foreign and
potentially harmful to the body."
THE BODY'S FIRST LINE OF DEFENCE
http://www.niaid.nih.gov/final/immun/immun.htm "The immune system is a
complex of organs--highly specialized cells and even a circulatory system
separate from blood
vessels--all of which work together to clear infection from the body. The
organs of the immune system, positioned throughout the body, are called
lymphoid organs. The word "lymph" in Greek means a pure, clear stream--an
appropriate description considering its appearance and purpose."
RECOGNIZING THE INVADER
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/imagepages/19331.htm "An allergy
occurs when the immune system reacts to substances (allergens) that are
generally harmless and in most people do not cause an immune response.
Antibodies are formed by the immune system in response to the presence of an
antigen such as pollen, mould, dust or dander." These are important
definitions and descriptions.
Recognize that these definitions and links come from well-respected and
trustworthy sites. (I think I have said those words before, but it IS really
important that unless you have this kind of reliable knowledge, you can be
so easily misled.) All of these sites have research studies attached. This
is Step One in the care and feeding of your Immune System.
Let's see how they could be put to practical use in your body and in your
life through examples. As you have just read, the Immune System is a series
of protective mechanisms or systems found naturally in your body. This
protection is both internal and external. It provides protection to the
entire body, with many "subsections". These protect you regionally (limb)
and locally (finger). Immune System keeps internal
(pathogens/disease-causing) and external (foreign bodies) invaders from
affecting your everyday life. (For ease of our discussion, these invaders
are called "free radicals".)
We will use the term Immune System "generally" to describe all the
protective systems of the body. This system is made up of a variety of
defence mechanisms including antibodies, which have very specific functions.
We also don't often think in terms of the skin and digestive tract (mucous
membranes, saliva, stomach juices) spleen, etc.,) being connected to this,
but they also play very important roles. An example of the defence mechanism
with "local parts" is the inflammatory system or response. This is one of
the MOST important defences you can have. Guard it carefully.
Here is a very simplistic explanation of the "inflammatory
process". You step on a nail. Immediately the body recognizes this as an
abnormal "invasion" and sends out the inflammatory process to get rid of the
invader(s). In this case, it would be an increase of fluid, including large
amounts of white blood cells. This fluid will remain there until the healing
is complete or until some other process (antibiotics) takes over. Then it
stays to counteract the antibiotics (drugs/chemicals). The volume of this
fluid causes its own problems as the pressure causes pain and distortion of
the area's anatomy. And when this process is also active in places like the
ear, brain, or eye, because of limited space, it will cause additional
problems. Its purpose is to wash the toxins out of the area.
There is the body-wide response in the form of the lymphatic system. As
well, the immune system has many organs that will either protect or not
accept free radicals or intruders. Your sinuses will protect you by
filtering out certain chemicals. Your stomach will "return" unwanted items.
Your eyelids will block out unwanted light. Your nose will make you aware of
undesirable smells and you can cover your nose or turn away. Knowing we
have such powerful protection available to us, it scares me when someone
calls and tells me that certain very invasive procedures are to be done. On
further questioning, it's obvious that the symptoms are very uncomfortable
or debilitating. And that's fine, but WHY are those symptoms there? What is
your body trying to protect you FROM? From what you have already read,
wouldn't you now be asking a different question?
If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, here lie some answers.
Our bodies are meant to function until you die of old age. And the Immune
System is there to help you achieve that goal. Does it not make sense then
to learn how to care for and feed it wisely? Arthritis, Lupus, Cancer,
Cataracts, Macular Degeneration, Fibromyalgia, Diabetes, Alzheimer's, etc.
are not aging conditions. They are degenerative conditions. And can be
handled very differently and very hopefully.
Here are a couple of examples from other parts of "life" to help you
"connect" this new knowledge to your "real" life experiences. You have a new
lawn. You are excited and proud, and spend a lot of "quality time" nurturing
it. You water it, feed it, cut it, check it for bugs, and treat those. And
if you find moss, (heaven forbid!) you stamp it out with its own "killer".
Then you add more chemicals in the fall to prevent other problems. This is
your work of art. You treat your car the very same and proud way.
Or relate your body to a new house. You polish it and dust it. You vacuum
it very frequently. You are a very proud homeowner. It is said that for
most of us, our homes will be our most prized possession (well apart from
guys and their cars, right?) The point is that you wouldn't forget to clean
your home or fertilize your lawn or wash and polish your car. As the proud
homeowner of your body, you should be giving the same high degree of
attention to it. All the time...till you are "old": not degenerating. Your
parents did it for you till you could take over. Then other things got in
the way and you began to take it for granted. Your body is tremendously
forgiving...up to a point.
An aging condition is natural and happens because the body delivers less of
a product i.e. less lubricant, in a slower manner, or meets a change of
needs and adjusts accordingly. For instance in an aging knee, the fluid
produced would be less in amount, and you would be moving it less, so the
entire fluid process wouldn't let you move as fast. In an arthritic knee,
the inner surfaces deteriorate from overuse (any number of reasons): not
from aging, causing the fluid to dry up much faster. (It's the movement of
the knee joint that produces the natural lubricating fluid, Glucosamine.) In
relation to sugars, a healthy body is normally ready only to manufacture as
much insulin as needed. For instance, in Diabetes, the process of balancing
the insulin production and sugar intake is impaired. This is not aging:
The immune system also plays a crucial role in your ability to weather
exposure to parasites, bacteria, viruses, toxins, and other hazards that
interact daily with your body. Your body's struggle against disease is
played out twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, in each and every
individual cell. Your immune system meets innumerable challenges and
overcomes countless enemies throughout your lifetime.
Although your Immune System is seen to be completely supportive, it does
have a negative component. This it the "auto-immune" activity. This occurs
when the body doesn't appear to like itself and tries to attack its own
cells, as in the case of lupus or scleroderma. There is controversy about
its possible existence, cause, and treatment. Traditional treatment calls
for more chemicals, resulting in more free radicals. Are you beginning to
see the connections? There are children who have a very limited
(compromised) immune system. They have to spend their entire lives in very
protective environments so as to avoid exposure to potential
How would you overload or cause your immune system to malfunction? Simply by
using up its supply of antioxidants at a rate higher than what your body is
being supplied with. In other words, what you eat doesn't supply enough
nutrients to power the system consistently or adequately. So the carrot you
eat, provides some antioxidants. The chocolate bar you snack on provides
elements that the body wants to get rid of, especially sugars.
Unfortunately, you are not the only contributor to "neglect" in your body.
Other situations that add to this deterioration are chemicals, and irritants
such as moulds, pollens, etc. These are not natural to your body. They may be
common, but they are not "of the body". They may be going into your body, on
it, or being inhaled. Your eyes, nose, throat, skin, etc. are all entry
points. They are those unpleasant "noxious" smells you breathe, your
headache medication, your calorie-reduced drinks, surgery and all its
related drugs, some types of fillings in your teeth, the implants in your
bones, the fluorescent lights in your environment...the list goes on. They
all contribute to this unwanted demand in your body. And what about the
unnatural amount of salt or the preservatives you find in your prepared
foods that enhance taste, freshness, and appearance. (We ask for them
because we want our foods to look great and be tasty.)
Your body also recognizes every drug you coming into it (no matter by what
method) and wants to get rid of it. Every drug, no matter how innocent or
helpful, is made up of chemicals. So think of all you take in, and, yes,
that includes the wines and other "spirits", the tobacco, and even
"recreation" drugs, as well as the cleaning aids we have in our mops,
bathrooms, and laundry rooms.
These might be considered pretty obvious "triggers" for the immune system to
start working, but others could something as unusual as the insulation in
your house or nail polish. If you don't have a healthy immune system
(abundance of anti-oxidants), you are at the mercy of any and every negative
condition in your environment: smoke, air pollution, water pollution, etc.,
even stress. Your body is not only physical...it has the emotional and
spiritual part of it and these are vital to its healthy balance. And stress
is a huge factor, but don't get caught up in blaming stress for all your
woes. That's easy to do and often it's not a correct assumption.
For a time, it was widely assumed that infectious diseases had been brought
under control, especially in our industrialized world. We now know that this
is not true. The appearance of AIDS, the huge increase in Sexually
Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and the recent re-appearance of Tuberculosis
(TB) are very real and disturbing. As well, we also now have harmful
microorganisms that are resistant to at least two very powerful groups of
antibiotics. If you are exposed to these pathogens (disease-causing
microorganisms), your immune system might be unable to protect you. This is
the immune response malfunctioning (overloaded) or not even existing any
We continue to use antibiotics to "cover" everything. We are now discovering
that this was just adding more problems. (This is why you should not overdo
the use of anti-bacterial soaps: most people have no real need for them.)
Every chemical going into your body is seen as an enemy: a free radical.
A majority of the illnesses that afflict us are related to negative
nutritional factors such as inadequate amounts of the correct nutrients and
the unavailability of a complete and balanced lifestyle in a "friendly"
environment. A diet high in animal fat and cholesterol and low in fiber is
unsuitable. Tobacco/ smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, excessive
exercise, and factors such as chemical carcinogens, ozone depletion, air
pollution, industrial toxins, also contribute to this negative environment.
They result in oxidative stress. Again, these, in our very simplistic terms
for ease of understanding, are "free radicals". And without getting too
technical, oxidative stress relates to the number of free radicals and the
inadequate amount of antioxidants to neutralize them. In other words, the
free radicals have outnumbered the antioxidants.
All these are part of this overload. More "free radicals". But you have to
live... So want can you do? I often mention the Journal of the American
Medical Association report on the use of nutritional supplementation. If
such a conservative "institution" is supporting the use of nutritional
supplements to reverse and or prevent degenerative conditions, it really
pays to listen.
What can you do to help insure that your immune system can provide you with
health and energy? The answer has many parts, but it can be described
simply. Essentially you will want to reduce the intake or exposure to
anything that creates free radicals or toxins, and increase whatever
nutrients your body needs to "empower" the Immune System. It's not quite so
simple as many things contribute to both the positive and the negative side.
You can't realistically sit in your garden and eat lots of carrots, as your
body needs all the elements of a nutritionally balanced diet. (One of my
fondest memories is sitting in a strawberry patch on Cape Cod as a teenager,
eating all the strawberries I wanted. Instead of getting healthier, I broke
out in a rash! I guess my body was sending a message of "unhealthiness".
Maybe moderation should have been part of my decision.) Start looking
carefully at what you eat and make sure it is helpful and supportive in your
new search for health.
A healthy Immune System is supplied with a constant and adequate flow of
anti- oxidants (along with many other elements.) These are received through
a well balanced, complete, nutrient-rich diet.
Most research concludes that the restoration and maintenance of your healthy
body depends strongly on your nutritional and lifestyle choices. Become
aware of the connection of all these factors. Educate yourself about
"oxidative stress". (An ongoing overabundance of free radicals in an
inadequate amount of anti-oxidants.) In this day of pollution, pesticides,
fertilizers, preservatives, etc., it is very difficult to avoid free
radicals. So you have to prepare to overcome them instead. You have just
read of some of the different ways these chemicals come into your body. Open
your eyes to the world around you. Do you now see the need for "nutritional"
supplementation: complete and balanced? And as you probably (like me) won't
know how to create this balanced set of nutrients, find yourself someone who
does. Know that Recommended Daily Allowances RDA's are the minimum
requirements. For a healthy and empowering lifestyle, you need far more than
that: you need "optimum" nutrition. You can click here to read about "HOW
TO CHOOSE A NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENT: A "Multivitamin" Safely And Wisely."
When it comes to your well being, there are no guarantees.
However, the daily decisions you make may have a tremendous effect on the
outcome of your overall health. The better your nutritional status, the
better all systems, including your immune system will be. (I am sure you
have heard of people who can't heal or heal quickly. This is the reason.)
Commit today to taking the necessary steps towards giving your body the
best possible defenses against disease. Health is not just the absence of
disease: it is the empowering of your body to perform at its optimal
level. Make a decision NOW treat your body with due care and attention.
The results will astound you! Your job is to feed your immune system with
health-sustaining foods: with nutrients that can rebuild your Immune
System. Doesn't it now make sense to reduce or eliminate as many chemicals
as possible from your body? The fewer free radicals you have to
neutralize, the quicker the response will obviously be. Let me recommend
one mind-opening book. It is written by a medical doctor who changed the
direction of his practice from drug focus to wellness focus. Read his
wisdom. "Death By Prescription : The Shocking Truth Behind an
Overmedicated Nation" Ray D. Strand, available from Amazon.com.
As you have been reading, have you felt overwhelmed and unsure, yet
grateful to your body that it doesn't make you realize how important and
powerful your immune system is? Take heart...here are some eye-opening
equations. Optimum amounts of nutrients and a degenerative condition equal
a renewing healthy body. A relatively healthy body without any added
chemicals, including drugs, equals a very happy person!
Isn't it strange that those things that could have kept you healthy
naturally are not taught or discussed. It's as though we feel our bodies
are indestructible and if something breaks down, we just need to add a few
chemicals (drugs) to patch it up! Doesn't it seem relatively simple to
repair your immune system without hurting it more?
Slowly things are changing. We are starting to pay attention to the cause
and effect aspect of our body. We pay attention to our cars, our gardens,
our homes, etc. How far behind will our bodies come? Until something traps
your attention. And this will most likely come in the form of a very
debilitating condition. A healthy, energetic life is entirely possible,
even if you have a degenerative condition. But it will take time to
restore the protective measures of the Immune System. It didn't get worn
out in a few days. Neither will it be restored quickly, but it can be
restored. The decision to start this repair is yours. Remember this
simple formula: more anti-oxidants than free
radicals going in equals health and longevity. Start to take back control
of your health today. The decision is yours alone.
We have another article about
understanding and maintaining your immune system if you have Meniere's
Disease, you can
read that article here.
By Karin Henderson - Nurse, Retired.
If you would like to know more about the system we talk about throughout the
use this link to go to the Meniere's System Information page.
If you have not signed up for our Meniere's Disease Health Information
Newsletter you can learn more about it, or sign up for it, by
We hope you found the information here helpful. Thank you for visiting our
Copyright © 2005 Karin Henderson