Your immune system works hard to protect you from colds, flu, and other illnesses, so why not give it a little help? Imagine your immune system as the first line of defense against an invading army. First, the proteins in the bloodstream look for foreign bodies (antigens). Then, the proteins call for reinforcement from phagocytes which devour bacteria and viruses. T cells in the lymphatic system take note of the invasion and increase white blood cells to further fight off the enemy (Build a Better Immune System by Brandi Schlossberg, Massage Magazine, 12/07). When the process is working properly, the germs are flushed out through the lymphatic system and you are not even aware of the battle within.
How do we keep the system humming? Boost your immunities to bacteria and viruses by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. According to a Harvard Special Health Publication, the immune system requires balance and harmony to function well. The report makes the following recommendations:
Whole foods , adequate protein, and plenty of water to flush out toxins will help keep your body in top form. For additional information, Dr. Jennifer Collins offers many dietary tips on the website www.alternativemedicine.com (http://www.alternativemedicine.com/alternative-medicine/departments/holistic-tips-boost-your-immune-system ).
In addition to these common sense recommendations, Schlossberg suggests herbal remedies, vitamin supplements, aromatherapy and massage to keep you feeling your best. Stress is particularly harmful to your defenses, and massage therapy is a great way to combat those debilitating effects. Deep tissue massage slows down the production of cortisol – the stress hormone. The skin’s receptors respond to moderate pressure and your immune system benefits. Essential oils of lavender, sandalwood, tea tree, eucalyptus and rose oil can be incorporated into massage lotions or diffused in to the air to offer additional immune system support. In addition, you might try herbal teas like Yogi Tea’s Echinacea Immune Support or Traditional Medicinal’s Echinacea Plus to stimulate and support the immune system. Schlossberg cites studies that show that even severely compromised immune systems, such as those weakened from HIV and leukemia, benefit from massage through the increase in white blood cells counts.
Stay in harmony with your body by eating well, getting enough exercise and sleep, and helping your immune system do its job of protecting the body from invading bacteria and viruses. The reward for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular massage, is a healthier immune system.