- Americans suffer nearly a billion colds every year
- The CDC estimates that nearly 2 million people annually acquire an infection while in the hospital, and some 90,000 of them die
- According to the FDA, about 70 percent of bacteria that cause infections in hospitals are resistant to at least one of the drugs most commonly used to treat those infections
- In 2000, the National Academy of Sciences estimated the annual cost of treating antibiotic resistant infections in the U.S. at nearly $3 billion
- There are an estimated 38,000 species of mushrooms
- The total world worth of the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products derived from mushrooms is estimated at some $1.2 billion
IMMUNE SYSTEM 101: OVERVIEW OF HOW IT WORKS
Remember that old playground game, Red Rover? Kids would form two lines facing each other, then one line would call out, "Red Rover, Red Rover, send Susie right over." Little Susie would then have to run toward the other team's line and try to break through. Most of the time, however, it was nearly impossible to do, since the kids forming the line linked hands and stood their ground. One team "captures" more members by keeping opponents from breaking through the line.
That's kind of how our immune systems work in our bodies. While the immune system as a whole encompasses several larger components like blood and bone marrow, the real immune action takes place at the cellular level. A healthy immune system includes strong cells that resist invasion by foreign substances like bacteria and viruses – kind of like the line of kids linking hands to keep the opposing team from breaking through. But the immune system doesn't limit its work to mere resistance.
A healthy immune system goes into attack mode as well. White blood cells known as lymphocytes are constantly on the prowl, looking for something that shouldn't be there, whether it's a bacterium, a virus, or even an abnormal body cell - such as one that's growing our of control and may develop into a cancerous lesion. When they find these cells and organisms that are in the wrong place at the wrong time, the lymphocytes attack -- and usually kill -- the foreign cells and organisms, either directly or with antibodies. Another group of white blood cells known as macrophages then comes along and cleans things up by ingesting targeted organisms or cellular debris, and hauls these off for disposal. This whole process must be in proper working order to keep us healthy and alive!
KEEPING IT HEALTHY TO BEGIN WITH
Common sense tells us that it is easier to keep a system running smoothly than it is to get it started again once it has broken down. That's why we're supposed to have regular oil changes and
tune-ups for our cars. Similarly, it makes a whole lot more sense for us to keep our bodies in a healthy state rather than trying to repair breakdowns (diseases) once they occur. Modern medicine has a tendency to treat symptoms of disease rather than focusing on prevention. A doctor is much more likely to prescribe an antibiotic to treat an established infection than to prescribe an immune system enhancer to help keep the infection from developing in the first place.
Immune enhancement is an area where natural and herbal supplementation can be very useful. Herbal supplementation focuses on the strengthening properties of various plants to help keep our body systems functioning optimally. An immune system functioning at peak efficiency has the power and adaptability to deal with virtually all foreign invaders, even ones that are constantly changing. It makes much more sense to thwart the initial attack than to try to clear the invading hordes in the midst of existing damage, when they have already established a foothold.
IMMUNITY PLUS KEEPS A GOOD SYSTEM WORKING WELL
The immune system has remarkable potential to fight off infection, cancer and other diseases. Helping to keep this potential at a peak level is what makes Immunity Plus from Healing America such a valuable ally in a proactive approach to health. It is a tincture that can be taken by mouth for general immune support, or it can be applied topically to cuts, bites and stings to promote more rapid and infection-free healing. Immunity Plus is a combination of powerful immune strengthening herbs plus Host Defense Potentiator (HDP) compounds
from some of the most highly prized mushrooms in traditional medicine. Let's take a look at each of the components:
Echinacea is one of the most widely studied and highly touted immune-boosting herbs, and as we move into the 21st century, health-conscious people around the world continue to sing the praises of this beautiful plant's capacity for taking care of business when it comes to fending off a host of ills. Commonly known as the purple cone flower, echinacea has a long track record of health benefits. Native Americans used it for generations to fight infections, relieve pain, and treat bites and stings. Echinacea came into popular medicinal use in the U.S. in the late 19th century. It was used to treat everything from colds to syphilis through the 1920's, when sulfa drugs came on the scene and usurped echinacea's position in the American pharmacopoeia.
Today, echinacea's popularity has reemerged. Multiple studies and clinical trials have shown that it can be effective in preventing and relieving the effects of upper respiratory infections. Not only can echinacea help ward off colds and flu, it can also help reduce the number of days one is afflicted with the symptoms of these pervasive illnesses (statistically, Americans suffer nearly a billion colds every year!).
Echinacea does its work indirectly and proactively. Rather than focusing on directly killing infecting organisms (as antibiotics do), echinacea strengthens the body's own immune mechanisms, making them more efficient in eliminating bacteria, viruses, and abnormal cells. This "non-specific" immune-stimulating activity means that echinacea can help the body deal more effectively with a variety of organisms, even those that have developed antibiotic resistance. Echinacea also increases the body's resistance to attack from foreign organisms by strengthening the walls of healthy cells and by inactivating hyaluronidase, an enzyme that pathogens use to penetrate tissues.
A Brazilian plant that reaches the very canopy of the rainforest, pau d'arco is an important part of the traditional and herbal medicine pharmacopoeia. Its antifungal and immune building properties have been appreciated for hundreds of years, and it is a rich source of iron, which helps the body eliminate wastes.
Cancer-fighting properties of constituents in pau d'arco fueled a flurry of research on the plant in the 1960s. Much of the research focused on the naphthoquinone called lapachol. Although the research confirmed the cancer-fighting activity of lapachol, it was largely abandoned in the early1970s due to the negative side effects of vomiting, nausea, and interference with vitamin K activity that arose with use at therapeutic levels. More recent research has identified another chemical constituent of pau d'arco, beta-lapachone, which shows promise in strengthening immune protection against cancer.
In addition to pau d'arco's immune boosting activity, it is one of nature's most potent antimicrobials, with direct activity against bacteria, viruses and fungi. Research into the specifics of the health benefits of this plant is entering its 5th decade, illustrating the complexity of herbal agents and the difficulty in fully elucidating their benefits. In the meantime, this plant continues to hold a place of significance in herbal supplementation for good health.
A highly regarded South American herb with properties similar to those of ginseng, suma is considered an "adaptogen," a substance helpful in responding to stress and providing general health
support. In fact, its name in Spanish -- Para Todo -- literally means "for all things." Suma contains high concentrations of the trace element germanium, a powerful immune stimulator.
Research on suma has shown that it is active against Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a member of the herpes virus family that causes infectious mononucleosis. EBV has been strongly implicated in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also called Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome (CFIDS). Suma can help alleviate the exhaustion and abnormal immune responsiveness associated with this disorder.
Known by the common name Lucky Fungus, reishi mushrooms have long been used in herbal and traditional medicine to help with a variety of health woes, from liver disorders to hypertension and arthritis. Reishi mushrooms are well known for enhancing immune function. Clinical research has shown that they stimulate macrophage production and activity, and that they exhibit potent antimicrobial activity. Reishi mushrooms also function as adaptogens – they act to strengthen the entire body and to improve overall health.
There has been considerable interest in the potential of reishi mushrooms to help fight cancer. In laboratory research, certain components derived from the mushrooms have been shown to induce apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in various cancers.
The maitake mushroom is known in some areas of the world as the Dancing Mushroom (because those who found it danced with joy) and in other areas as the "King of Mushrooms" due to its large size. In the US, where it grows wild in the woods of the northeast, it's called "hen of the woods" because it has a taste akin to chicken.
The polysaccharides (complex sugars) found in maitake are unique and potent. . Laboratory studies have shown that extracts from maitake mushrooms – the maitake D-fraction -- have the capacity to inhibit tumor growth and to stimulate immune activity. In addition to their possible roles in cancer prevention and treatment, maitake polysaccharides are also being investigated for improvement of immune function in patients with AIDS.
These polysaccharides, called beta-glucans, have strong immune boosting effects. Maitake extracts have been shown to promote the action of macrophages and various lymphocytes, such as NK (natural killer) cells and killer T cells. All of these effects are useful in strengthening immune response and promoting overall health.
A Chinese mushroom with qualities similar to ginseng, cordyceps has been used for centuries for lung protection and reproductive invigoration in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It increases levels of natural antioxidants. Its adaptogenic qualities make it useful in a wide variety of health applications, from improving stamina and decreasing fatigue, to energizing all body systems. Its Host Defense Potentiator compounds boost immune function and help support lymphoid stem cells, which give rise to the specialized cellular components of the immune system.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
All of us want to keep ourselves and our families safe from the variety of ills and evils lurking in our modern world. So we buckle the kids up safely in the back seat. We admonish those around us to wash their hands, eat their vegetables, and be sure to get enough rest. We install detectors for smoke, carbon monoxide and even radon in our homes and offices. We buy insurance to cover ourselves and everything we own. We avoid high crime and dangerous traffic areas. We evacuate our homes in the face of impending natural disaster.
And yet, there is one area – perhaps the most significant - that we constantly put on the back burner. And that is the maintenance of good health, maintenance that begins and ends with a strong and properly functioning immune system. The immune system is the defender of the entire body. It is a highly integrated system that is capable of protecting us from threats that arise without (infective organisms) and within (abnormal cells that can give rise to cancer). Keeping the immune system functioning at peak levels is certainly one of the most important things we can do to protect ourselves and those we love.
Immunity Plus can be a powerful tool for helping your body nip infections in the bud. It is particularly helpful during cold and flu season. Immunity Plus is also great to have on hand for topical use with cuts, scrapes, bites and stings.
While it can be used on a daily basis, it is important to take at least one week per month off from Immunity Plus to maintain its impact on the immune system.
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, but rather is a dietary supplement intended solely for nutritional support.
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