Body and Terrain
The Immune System: Mind/Body and Terrain
- The purpose of the immune system
- Peripheral Lymphatic system
- Diaphragmatic breathing
- Three major warning signs of an imbalanced Immune system
The Germ is nothing…the Terrain is EVERYTHING – Louis Pasteur
It is your immune system’s resilience that protects you from overwhelming infections that can knock you out cold in the ring of life’s challenges. Your susceptibility to infections and diseases, from one simple cold to catastrophic cancers, is deeply influenced by the health and integrity of the immune system. Likewise, chronic diseases and imbalances can threaten the immune system.
The reflective saying “as within so without” represents a way of understanding immune function. Immune integrity can be viewed as a metaphor for you to defend yourself. The immune system represents an understanding of boundaries and harmonious living in a community with others. Your integrity, resilience, and support lie within the immune system’s ability to mobilize, defend, communicate, and hold peace and balance within. A primary role of the immune system is to serve and protect. The capacity and success of this system to function optimally and be ever vigilant are important aspects of radiant health.
Components of the immune system
The immune system consists of a lacy network of pathways capable of transporting immune cells throughout the body. It also has a collection of organs, tissues, and cells dispersed strategically thru the body.
1. Component function
- Spleen: bloody organ in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen that produces antibodies, maintains cellular immunity, recirculates, white blood cells, and receives B cells, T cells, antigens, macrophages, and antigen-reactive cells from the blood.
- Bone Marrow: located in the hallow interior of the long bones, produces red blood cells and macrophages, B and T cells undergo development here.
- Lymph nodes: pea-shaped organs throughout the body that are connected by a network of vessels that receive drainage and filter antigens from the lymphatic fluid.
- Thymus gland: located beneath the breastbone, this gland reaches its full potential in early childhood and then progressively shrinks. It produces an stores T-cells.
- Other organs: Tonsils are groups of lymphoid tissues located in the throat that contain B and T cells. The appendix, Peyer’s patches (accumulations of lymphoid
cells under the mucous membranes that produce nodules), and intestinal nodes
are sites of B cells maturation and antibody production for the intestinal region. 2. Cells:
- Macrophages: large white blood cells produced in bone marrow, responsible for phagocytosis
- B cells: Bone marrow derived cells that produce antibodies that neutralize and destroy antigens
- T cells: Thymus – derived cells consist of T-helper cells that induce B cells to respond to an antigen and T-suppressor cells that halt specific activity of immunologic response. T-helper and T-suppressor cells are in a delicate balance that must be maintained for adequate immune response.
- Natural Killer (NK) cells: these kill foreign invaders on direct contact without B cell involvement by producing cytotoxin, a cell poison.
Back to the components…
This overall immune system is intricately connected to the nervous system (brain) and endocrine (hormonal). The lymph fluid of the body is constantly oozing toward the heart from the farthest reaches of the body and then is reintroduced into the general lymphatic circulation. Two layers of lacy lymph networks are just under the skin, and these return lymph fluid to the heart. Keep in mind the lymph fluid is the consistency of an egg white, it is quite thick and moves very slowly. The lymphatic fluid does not have to pump to force it thru the body like the heart forces blood with every beat. Lymph fluid movement is dependent on the muscles that provide the movement.
The function of the Lymphatic System
All lymph fluid passes thru the lymph nodes. The lymph nodes are depots where special white blood cells, called T cells, wait on alert for foreign matter, such as bacteria and viruses., to be brought into the nodes for identification and security check.
Lymph nodes are located strategically throughout the body. Seventy percent of the body’s immune response surrounds the abdominal area. A large number of lymph nodes and vessels are in the gut to make sure that all foreign material that is ingested becomes user-friendly and beneficial. Imagine the amount of infection and disease that you could suffer if you did not have a strong vigilant immunity to counter all of the bacteria and other foreign material that is carried in food or produced by the process of digestion. God’s design is perfect and beautiful.
The remainder of the body’s lymph nodes is located where major bones articulate, or meet, and where the body has openings to the outside world. Lymph nodes are at the ankles, knees, around the groin area, elbows, armpits and chest. The chains of the lymph nodes are along the neck and collarbone.
There are two reasons lymph must pass through nodes on its return trip to the heart. One is to carry protein molecules to the general circulation because proteins are too big to be circulated back through the venous circulation. This helps keep the fluid levels of the body balanced. The second reason that all lymph fluid passes thru the lymph nodes is to identify pathogens, bacteria, viruses, fungi – that is foreign to the body.
The purpose of the immune cells is to recognize what is part of your body’s normal composition and what is not. Just as the eyes sense or recognize what is outside of your normal self and retain a memory of that image for life, so, too, immune cells recognize and remember for a lifetime an encounter with a particular organism – whether it be a bacteria, virus, fungi, food, or environmental allergen. Your immunity normally provides you with the surveillance mechanism to defend and protect from the day you are born until your last breath – NATURALLY and without the need for synthetic vaccines.
The immune system is intimately connected to the nervous and endocrine systems. Not only does it respond to physical factors, such as viruses, but its also extremely sensitive to thoughts, stress, and emotions. How you think and decide to interpret the world around you influences the kind of activity that either enhances immune resilience or promotes immune disorders. The immune cells are on patrol and in action every day of your life. They perceive and remember the biochemical interactions between the body and substances foreign to it. The cells are mobile and, when optimal conditions exist, able to transport unwanted materials from the body, keeping the host victorious against infections or compromise.
IT IS THE JOB OF THE IMMUNE SYSTEM TO PROTECT THE BODY FROM DISEASE.
Enhancing Lymphatic Flow
The most important muscle for the movement of your immune system is the diaphragm – this is a thin, dome-shaped muscle that separates the lungs from the abdominal cavity. Every breath and every step that you take has the effect of massaging or pressing lymph fluid along its way. Vigorous deep breathing occurs during brisk walking or any aerobic activity, or conscious breathing such as in yoga. This enhances the flow of lymph fluid through a type of breathing called diaphragmatic or belly breathing. Babies come into the world belly breathing, and it is something that needs to be relearned to promote optimal immune function. Deep breathing with the diaphragm is an activity that is extremely useful in improving immune integrity.
**Diaphragmatic breathing is the process of contracting the diaphragm, the thin, dome-shaped muscle covering the stomach and the liver, to create a deep inhalation. During inspiration, an effort is made to push the stomach out as the diaphragm flattens down onto the abdomen. This enables the lungs to expand more fully. The rhythm produced by this breathing enhances lymphatic fluid movement and helps remove toxins and waste products from lymph fluid.
Practicing belly breathing on a regular basis is a powerful yet subtle means of stress management. Deep breathing helps the heart beat more regularly and perform more competently. Carbon dioxide is more efficiently removed with diaphragmatic breathing. One will be more alert and fit when the breath is attuned with other rhythms of the body. Changing the breathing style to belly breathing rather than chest breathing will bring more oxygen into the cells, increase the energy available for activity and performance, and enhance the innate harmony between breath, heart rate, sense of well-being, and enthusiasm for life. Belly breathing promotes relaxation and maintains calmness in situations of perceived stress through the action of the diaphragm synchronizing its rhythm with the heart’s rhythm and other processes of the body. A state of peace and harmony helps conserve the immune system.
Physical exercise has the ability to increase the vessels that carry blood and lymph throughout the body. The more vessels available to carry blood and lymph. The more efficiently the heart functions and fluids flow. Just as an expressway will open all lanes to accommodate an increase in traffic and cars, the body also has the ability to develop collateral circulation to relieve congestion and keep the flow moving easily and effortlessly.
**The job of the peripheral lymphatic system is to clear germs and cancer cells from the body. This lacy network accomplishes this through the massaging movement of the muscles of motion breathing. Regular physical activity and deep breathing help the efforts of the immune system.