By Luzia Barclay DBTh MIRCH

From ancient times, human beings have had knowledge and faith that an immense variety of plants can be used to prevent ill health and to restore health and well-being.

Before the advent of modern pharmaceutical drugs, medicinal herbs were all that humans had available to them. Indeed, modern pharmaceuticals do have their value in certain situations. For long-term conditions and especially as preventative measures, natural remedies are second to none. The most striking example is the effect of natural remedies on the human immune system.

As far as I know, there are no pharmaceutical drugs that strengthen this system. There are drugs with immune suppressing effect prescribed in cases of organ transplant and to reduce symptoms of auto-immunity, but pharmaceuticals to support and strengthen this system are lacking.

There are parts of the immune system in literally every organ in our body, in the brain and in the spinal cord cells, called microglia to protect this area from pathogenic micro-organisms, from plaques forming. They repair damaged cells and are involved in general maintenance of nerve function in the central and peripheral nervous system.

There are specific immune cells in the liver, in the gut, in the heart, even on the skin and in the saliva, literally everywhere. They all work together to protect the whole organism, just like each bee in a beehive works in unison for the health of the colony.

This, without doubt, requires some kind of intelligence. Since we are aware of the importance of the microbiome in and on us, our immune system has to distinguish between micro-organisms beneficial for us and micro-organisms harmful and therefore need to be eliminated, eaten up in a process called phagocytosis.

In the past, the immune system was thought to have to distinguish between self- and non- self cells, but since we know we ‘carry’ more non-self cells than self cells, a change in thinking was required.

How on Earth does the immune system know how to distinguish between ‘good and bad’? If you are curious, look up the function of the thymus gland, the ‘training academy’ for immune cells.

My conclusion is: the more we nurture our immune system with natural means, and the less we interfere in it with pharmaceuticals, the better we support this precious innate intelligence and as a result we enjoy better health, less infections, less allergic reactions and less autoimmunity.

Contact me with any questions relating to this article.

Luzia Barclay DBTh MIRCH Registered Medical Herbalist
07716 872 756 or 01722 330663.