Ebola and Immunity

| December 8, 2014 | 0 Comments

I have been getting weary of the fear-monger hype about the Ebola virus. Remember that it is, in fact, a virus. Those most susceptible to it are those with compromised immune systems; those most likely to recover are those with robust immune response. So, Ebola is a reminder to us to support our own immune systems, whether or not this specific virus comes to us in San Diego.

Here is a brief review of the basics that you can do with what you have on hand or can get easily and inexpensively:

Essential Oil hand cleaner can be a simple as lavender oil or the more elaborate “Thieves” blend of oils that successfully fought off the Black Plague and continues to work today. There are several blends; most include clove oil, lemon peel, cinnamon, and rosemary. Some folks add tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil. Use this instead of commercial hand sanitizers that dry out your skin leaving you open to infection to which viruses rapidly develop resistance. You will get the energizing lift from the aroma oils at the same time that you are killing microbes.

Sleeping enough and soundly is a primary support to the immune function. Good sleep is the “holy grail” of health since deep REM sleep is when the cells get repaired and protective Melatonin is created. Taking a supplement can help you fall asleep, but the real thing that you produce in your own brain is always better. Sleep hygiene includes a dark, slightly cool room, regular bedtime that is preferably before 10:30 p.m., and relaxation for the last 30 minutes before turning the lights out.

Reducing sugars and simple starches is essential. These suppress the immune function, spike the blood sugar and the insulin and disrupt the whole endocrine (hormone-producing) system. Be careful what you eat and drink any time after dinner. Alcohol is also an insulin and immune disrupter as it tends to lower the insulin levels too much. Your cholesterol levels will improve as well.

Herbs called “adaptogens” are also called stress modulators. Whether your stress is from physical, mental or emotional sources, consuming these plants can offer relief while it builds your vitality slowly from within. Ashwaganda is one of my favorites since it also is good for digestion. American Ginseng is excellent, but endangered, so please purchase sustainably grown forms. Rhodiola and eleuthero are adaptogens that are often used by professional athletes for increasing immediate strength and long term stamina. Basil works well whether as pesto sauce or holy basil tea, or basil tomato soup. Medicinal mushrooms work very well including shiitake, maitake, turkey tail, cordyceps and reishi; these can be capsules, tea, or foods.

Regular exercise at a moderate level will assist the body in moving lymph, detoxing the liver and kidney and improving elimination to remove pathogens and damaging chemical compounds. The key is to change it up with a mix of stretching, muscle building and cardio-pulmonary. Do not over do the cardio as that can deplete you immune system; keep that to alternating days. You want to accumulate about 30 minutes of exercise each day, done all at once or in little bits through-out the day.

Sunshine and vitamin D are getting a lot of attention for all the body functions that they benefit and that will include immune function and its ability to fight off infections. Taking a supplement is good insurance, and what you create in your skin is even better. It is a rare day when we in San Diego cannot get the recommended 20 minutes of exposure to sunlight. Done before 10 a.m. and after 3 p.m., you can forgo the sunscreen if you limit yourself to 10 minutes. Taking a walk in a short-sleeved shirt, is not that difficult.

Along with these reminders, do your usual self-protection techniques of coughing or sneezing into your own elbow, choosing with whom to shake hands, using non-toxic cleaners such as hydrogen peroxide to clean surfaces at home. Remember that chlorine, bromine and fluorine all put stress on your thyroid by blocking receptors for much needed iodine; don’t drink the tap water and inquire as to which water sanitizers are used in a pool or spa. Don’t panic, just prepare.

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Category: Health & Fitness, Local News

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