Your Immune System and the Key to Longevity – Part 2
Herbs as the Key To Longevity
Balanced hormones are not only essential for your general health and well-being but may also play a role in the key to longevity. When there is a hormone imbalance, such as is associated with the sex hormones, i.e. testosterone and estrogen, aging is fast-tracked.
There are many reasons for a hormonal imbalance, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopause, pregnancy, lifestyle factors such as too little sleep, being overweight, or not enough exercise, thyroid issues, and even diabetes, among others. The medical profession often uses hormone replacement therapy to assist with the symptoms experienced as a result of hormonal imbalances.
There are many different symptoms to look out for if you think your hormones are out of whack. Some of the most common symptoms of an imbalance in your hormones are:
- Mood swings
- Sleeping problems such as insomnia, trouble falling asleep at night, or frequently waking up
- Persistent weight gain especially around the stomach
- Skin problems such as acne
- Excessive sweating
- Losing your muscle mass
- Brain fog, e.g. forgetting simple things like where you put your car keys
- Having digestive issues such as bloating or irritable bowel syndrome
- Feeling hungry all the time
- Frequent headaches or migraines
- Constant tiredness (studies suggest hormone imbalance may result in chronic fatigue syndrome)
- Vaginal dryness in women
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Changes in breast tissue, e.g. the forming of lumps
- A lowered libido
Modern medicine, frequently, addresses these symptoms by means of hormone replacement therapy. Although this most certainly has its time and place, it does not address the underlying root cause of the problem. Holistic medicine has found that, quite often, addressing the cause of the problem instead of the symptoms has a longer lasting result when it comes to managing the condition.
Traditionally, certain herbs have proved beneficial in not only stabilizing hormones but in strengthening the immune system as well; both are important factors for increased longevity in the long run.
Supplements That Improve Immunity and Play a Key Role in Longevity
Beta glucans are specific sugars that act as immunomodulators. This means that it is able to raise your immune system’s response to any pathogens, e.g. cancer cells, for example. This key to longevity is commonly found in the cell walls of certain fungi, plants (e.g. barley and oats), algae, yeasts, bacteria, and lichen.
Whereas many supplements may stimulate your immune system to fight off any negative stimulus, they can often over-stimulate the immune system, leading to a set of negative consequences. Beta glucans, on the other hand, while stimulating your system, are not able to overstimulate it. They are thus a safe supplement.
Beta glucans are effective against a variety of conditions, including colds and flu, allergies, skin conditions (such as eczema and dermatitis), chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, cancer, high cholesterol, and a host of others.
When considering dosage, however, it is best to consult a healthcare practitioner, as the wrong dosage could lead to certain negative complications.
Cordyceps is a parasitic fungus from China. It is believed to stimulate your immune system and may be effective against certain types of cancers as it is rich in vitamins (especially B1, B2, B12, E, and K), fatty acids, sterols, proteins, essential amino acids, and nucleosides (uracil, guanidine, adenosine, hypoxanthine, thymine, and more).
Cordyceps may provide relief when suffering from, amongst others, high cholesterol, irregular heartbeat, low libido in men, dizziness, fatigue, liver problems, and much more. It may also help fight certain types of cancer.
Those with autoimmune conditions should take care when taking cordyceps, as it may cause your immune system to become too active. It may also slow blood clotting, making it unsuitable for those with bleeding disorders.
Colostrum is the first breast milk produced by lactating animals (and humans) after giving birth. It is full of antibodies as well as immunoglobins which are essential for the immune system, helping to protect the newborn against viruses and bacteria.
Taken as a supplement, colostrum may help normalize the immune system, while it is easily digestible.
Colostrum is rich in:
- Immunoglobulins – they help with immunity, neutralize toxins, and fight viruses and bacteria.
- Lactoferrin – a protein with antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
- PRP – a hormone that helps regulate the thymus and which either stimulates or down-regulates your immune system.
The ingredients in colostrum are a key to longevity that are effective against conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, autoimmune diseases (such as lupus, allergies, MS, and rheumatoid arthritis), reducing insulin resistance, and balancing blood sugar levels.
Although this product has no known side-effects, it is always best to use supplements under the guidance of a trained professional.
An Ayurvedic herb that may help manage a number of health conditions. It is said to improve your energy levels, help reduce stress, and help to enhance your immune system.
Research suggests this herb increases your attention span and improves your memory. Furthermore, it is said to fight depression while increasing your libido and enhancing your immune system.
Studies suggest that this herb aids in increasing your body’s T-cells, thereby strengthening the immune system. It may also help to combat stress and fatigue, boosting your energy levels. Siberian ginseng is also said to be great for relief of colds and flu, enhancing your physical performance, and improving your mental performance.
The root aids in balancing the hormones because of its specific nutrients, i.e. essential fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin B12, calcium, and phosphorus. These nutrients are extremely beneficial for the endocrine system, which includes the pineal gland, pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, pancreas, adrenal glands, and ovaries/testes. This system houses the glands that are responsible for hormone production, the most important part being the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis that is the hormone regulation center of the body.
Stinging nettle provides the body with tons of energy and improves your iron levels. It contains an enormous variety of vitamins and minerals and is believed to be a great key to longevity that helps with stress.
Astragalus, an adaptogen, helps with warding off both physical or psychological stress. Due to the presence of antioxidants and its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory action, the herb is frequently used in fighting colds and upper respiratory tract infections as well as low blood pressure. The herb may also help strengthen your immune system in the event of chemotherapy, while certain studies suggest it may reduce your chances of contracting HIV/AIDS and cancer.
This key to longevity is a fruit that has been used by women to stimulate the production of milk and to ease menstrual problems. Research shows that the herb may help ease the symptoms associated with PMS, such as constipation, depression, headaches, and breast pain and tenderness.
It is believed chasteberry has an effect similar to progesterone which has an impact on the pituitary gland, resulting in increased testosterone production. It also has a beneficial effect on metabolic regulation, the pancreas, and the immune system.
Herbs and their counterparts may provide great relief to those with a hormonal imbalance, helping you to manage your condition and improve your health. By understanding the endocrine system and how each body function connects to another, using certain herbs can most certainly help manage the problem.
However, as with medications, herbs also have potential side effects; dosages should be well thought out and preferably prescribed by a qualified healthcare practitioner. As hormone imbalance and a weakened immune system could have so many different variables, each differing from one person to another, one should rather strive to find the root cause of the condition and structure supplementation in such a way as to address that instead of the condition in its entirety.
Additionally, what works for one person does not necessarily work for another, as each person is different and their body may react to the supplement of choice in a totally different fashion. Those with weak adrenals or suffering from Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) need to be especially careful as many herbs can be stimulatory in nature and trigger adrenal crashes.
Attitude as a Key to Longevity
Studies confirm that your attitude definitely contributes towards reaching a ripe old age. Those who have a positive outlook seemingly live longer and are more resilient and healthy overall.
It seems that to be positive boosts your antibodies, resulting in a stronger immune system. These people also tend to deal with stress easier, are less likely to develop heart disease, and do not show the same mental decline as their less positive counterparts.
The Key Factors that Need Attention for Longevity
There are six key to longevity factors. They are:
- The autonomic nervous system
- The thyroid gland
- The liver
- Your blood sugar
- The adrenal glands
- The gonads
The autonomic nervous system regulates the different processes in your body automatically. This includes your internal organs, glands, blood vessels, and intestines. This means that, if for some reason, there is a dysfunction at a particular point in this system, all other aspects of the system is affected.
The thyroid gland is responsible for the production of hormones that regulate your heart, metabolic rate, bone maintenance, digestion, brain development, and muscle control. When thyroid function is compromised, it thus leads to a range of symptoms that could, ultimately, result in death.
Your liver is your body’s detox machine. Its role is to cleanse the body of toxins in order to maintain a healthy homeostasis. It is also important for metabolizing fat cells and breaking down damaged blood vessels.
If your blood sugar levels are too high, you might very well end up with a damaged pancreas, insulin insufficiency, and of course, diabetes. Additionally, hyperglycemia causes damage to blood vessels, thereby increasing the risk of heart problems, stroke, and developing problems with your eyesight or nerve conditions.
The adrenal glands are responsible for coping with stress. This stress can be psychological, physiological, or environmental in its nature. Too much stress could put a strain on the adrenal glands, resulting in a myriad health of problems, such as a hormonal imbalance, anxiety, depression, weight gain or weight loss, brain fog, loss of memory, diabetes, and a host of others.
The male and female sex organs are referred to as the gonads. The ovaries, in females, are mainly responsible for the production of estrogen, while in males, the testes produce testosterone.
Gonad health is important. Besides resulting in infertility and a loss of sex drive, compromised gonads may also result in too little male or females hormones being produced resulting in a hormonal imbalance with its own set of complications.
Common diseases resulting from a dysfunction in these six key factors include:
- Infectious diseases, e.g. colds and flu
- Certain cancers
- Cardiovascular disease
- Neurological disorders
- Hormonal imbalances
- Chronic fatigue
- Weight loss or gain
- Multiple sclerosis
(and the list goes on)
The body’s automatic response system, i.e. the autonomic nervous system, is divided into two distinct parts. These are the sympathetic nervous system, and the parasympathetic nervous system. The key to longevity of the sympathetic nervous system is to control the body during emergency situations, In so doing, your heart rate increases, your muscles are ready to spring into action (to either fight or flee), and stored energy is released to ready you for the upcoming battle or your bid to run for safety.
The parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, tends to take over when conditions are ‘normal’. It decreases your heart rate and stimulates normal body functioning, e.g. the digestive tract, to work properly. It also makes sure energy is stored so that it can be used to build muscle.
The entire autonomic nervous system is responsible for sexual function.
© Copyright 2018 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.