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How does the Human Immune System work?

April 3, 2020 - by Parul Saini, Webmedy team


Our immune system is necessary for our endurance. Without an immune system, our bodies would be exposed to hit from bacteria, viruses, parasites, and more. It is our immune system that keeps us healthy as we float over a sea of pathogens.

As long as your immune system is working smoothly, you will be healthy. But if it stops running suitably - because it's weak or can't fight especially destructive germs - you get ill. Germs that your body has never faced before can also possibly make you ill. Some germs will only make you sick the first time you come into touch with them, for example, childhood illnesses like chickenpox.

Understanding our immune system

The immune system is amazingly complicated. It can identify and memorize millions of diverse opponents and it can generate excretions and cells to pair up with and clean out each one of them.

The main components of the immune system are:

  • White blood cells
  • Antibodies
  • Supplement system
  • Lymphatic system
  • Spleen
  • Bone marrow
  • Thymus

All these components work together and play an important role in the immune system.

  • White blood cells

    White blood cells also called leukocytes (LOO-Kuh-sites), perform an essential role in the immune system. Some kinds of white blood cells, called phagocytes (FAH-guh-sites), eat up attacking organisms. Others, called lymphocytes (LIM-Fuh-sites), support the body memorize the enemies and kill them.

    One kind of phagocyte is the neutrophil (NOO-truh-fil), which attacks bacteria. When someone might have a bacterial disease, physicians can request a blood test to detect if the body has produced lots of neutrophils. Other kinds of phagocytes do their works to ensure that the body reacts to enemies.

    The two varieties of lymphocytes are B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes. Lymphocytes begin out in the bone marrow and either stay there and develop into B cells or move to the thymus gland to develop into T cells. B lymphocytes are like the body's army intelligence system - they discover their victims and send guards to lock onto them. T cells are like the volunteers - they kill the enemies that the intelligence system detects.

  • Antibodies

    Antibodies aid the body to battle microbes or the toxins (poisons) they create. They do this by identifying essences called antigens on the outside of the microbe, or in the elements they produce, which identify the microbe or toxin as being different. The antibodies then identify these antigens for killing.

  • Spleen

    The spleen is a blood-filtering gland that eliminates microbes and kills old or spoiled red blood cells.

  • Bone marrow

    Bone marrow is the springy tissue located inside your bones. It originates the red blood cells our bodies require to transport oxygen, the white blood cells we employ to uphold infection, and the platelets we require to ease our blood clotting.

  • Thymus

    The thymus filters and manages your blood content. It provides the white blood cells called T-lymphocytes.

  • Spleen

    The spleen is a blood-filtering gland that eliminates microbes and kills old or spoiled red blood cells.

  • Macrophages

    Macrophages are a kind of white blood cells and a part of our immune defense mechanism. They are produced in our bone marrow. They recognize, surround or cover the foreign body, and then defeat the foreign body or cells. Macrophages are also believed to "clean house" in your body. These cells get cleared of cells that are worn out and need to be repaired. Macrophages also perform a role in wound healing and limb recovery.

    The macrophage plays a significant role in both the innate and acquired (humoral and cellular) immune responses. The macrophages will remain for several months after they are produced.

    The method of the macrophage surrounding, covering and killing foreign bodies is called phagocytosis. It comes from the Greek words "phagein" intending to eat, "kytos" or cell and "osis" which means process.

    Importantly, the macrophages can recognize self from non-self so that they do not hurt or destroy cells of normal appearance or function.

How Does the Immune System Fight?

  • When the body feels foreign elements, the immune system serves to identify the antigens and get relieved of them.
  • B lymphocytes are triggered to produce antibodies. These specific proteins secure onto specific antigens. The antibodies stay in a person's body. That means if the immune system finds that antigen again, the antibodies can do their work. That's why someone who becomes sick with a disease, like chickenpox, normally won't get ill from it repeatedly.
  • This is too how immunizations (vaccines) stop some diseases. An immunization introduces the body to an antigen in a method that doesn't cause someone ill. But it does allow the body to make antibodies that will defend the person from future illnesses by the virus.
  • Although antibodies can identify an antigen and hook onto it, they can't kill it without help. That's the work of the T cells. They kill antigens held by antibodies or cells that are affected or somehow diminished. T cells also flag other cells (like phagocytes) to do their tasks.

Kinds of immunity - innate, adaptive, and passive

  • Innate immunity

    Everyone is born with innate (or natural) immunity, a kind of universal protection. For instance, the skin serves as a wall to block bacteria from accessing the body. And the immune system identifies when some invaders are foreign and could be deadly.
  • Adaptive immunity

    Adaptive (or active) immunity extends throughout our lives. We generate adaptive immunity when we're opened to diseases or when we're immunized on them with vaccines.
  • Passive immunity

    Passive immunity is "borrowed" from a different source and it serves for a short time. For instance, antibodies in a mother's breast milk supply a baby temporary immunity to illnesses the mother has been endangered too.

Immunity according to Ayurveda

As per Ayurveda, healthy immunity is an outcome of good digestion, strong Agni (the metabolic fire), good liver functioning, and a well-balanced endocrine system(which involves properly balanced hormones). Immunity is also very related to a powerful thing called Ojas. The Sanskrit word Ojas implies "vigor".

But, in the body, Ojas is very complex and difficult-slightly hard to define, even. Yet in the Ayurvedic custom, Ojas has everything to perform with immunity. It is assumed that the power of one's Ojas decides which determinants and influences, whether internal or external, produce disease in any individual. Healthy Ojas promotes a state of bliss. Ojas is preserved when we can live in the existing moment with complete, fair experience.

Ojas is the real complex essence of Kapha - that which provides the body energy, endurance, intensity, and resistance. As such, it is a close representation of the state of Agni; sound Agni supports healthy Ojas, while disabled Agni controls the composition and character of Ojas. But Ojas is also influenced by past trauma, lifestyle preferences, stress levels, the state of our relationships, and our overall state of awareness. Ojas is usually rich in the soma (the deftest form of matter), and it finally becomes awareness.

Altering our diet as per seasonal cycles and requirements of the body and understanding the Ayurvedic treatments for seasonal transitions, can stop a build-up of toxins in the body. In Ayurveda, there is no one-size-fits-all theory. Reading from nature we adjust us with the knowledge presented and by using the methods we see improved immunity to illness, higher power, tranquility, a happy idea, imagining clarity and sensitive stability.

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