The specific immune response differs from the inflammatory response we talked about earlier because it is the body’s response to specific antigens. An antigen is anything foreign to our immune system, like bacteria, viruses, and allergic substances. This defense system uses antibodies specifically designed to target and attack one particular invader. It uses white blood cells, called lymphocytes, macrophages and neutrophils. It also uses natural killer cells, which attack and destroy sick or abnormal cells. This system remembers what it defeated, so it can easily and quickly provide a future defense force if it finds the same invader again.
How does it work (greatly simplified)?
All cells have antigens on their surface that tell our body they belong to us. If the body doesn’t recognize this antigen as “self”, that particular cell is then targeted as an invader. When an invader is identified, the lymphocytes (army) are called into action.
There are 2 types of lymphocytes.
T-lymphocytes (T-cells) are trained in the thymus to react to one particular antigen. T-cells destroy cells that are either foreign, mutated (cancerous) or virus infected. They stick to the foreign cell and insert a toxin, which causes them to rupture. Ruptured cells are then “eaten up”. Once the body is victorious over the enemy other cells move in and call off the war.
B-lymphocytes (B-cells) stick to an antigen and become sensitized. The first time they meet a specific bad guy, they multiply and produce large numbers of antibodies, which peaks in about 10 days. These antibodies fight the bad guy. They also make a “copy” of the bad guy and keep it in their memory banks. If they find this specific bad guy again, they go directly into production of antibodies at a much faster rate, usually within 3 days, and remain on alert for weeks or months.
There are 3 main types of antibodies, also called immunoglobulins (Ig). These antibodies attach to invaders and cause them to rupture, which causes inflammation.
*IgA’s: Are found in mucous, body oil, saliva, tears, digestive juices and mother’s milk. They are part of the first line of defense and prevent invader entry.
*IgG’s: Are mostly found in blood. These are usually the first antibodies to the battlefield and are highest in concentration. They are also involved in the allergic response, though they are not tested for in traditional allergy tests.
*IgE’s: Are involved in reactions to parasites and allergens. They attach themselves in great numbers to cells that contain large amounts of histamines. When activated by an invader, they cause these cells to rupture, thereby releasing their load of histamines. This causes an inflammatory, or allergic, response. This is what traditional allergy testing looks for. Anti-histamines are often taken to deactivate these histamines. This response can happen anywhere in the body.
Immune battle vs war:
The larger the invasion, the longer the battle is fought until healing occurs. This is why you need to have the strongest immune system possible. If your army is weak, or constantly battling Candida, allergens or toxins, how will it have the energy or troops available to quickly, efficiently and successfully tackle any invasion? Once invaders take over a battlefield it becomes a war. If you have no reinforcements, it is very difficult to win the war.
Symptom = warning of impending situation, which gives you an opportunity to modify (negotiate truce)
Infection or injury = Scrimmage or battle
Disease = War
Support your immune system. Address excess stress on it. Keep it well fed and strong at all times so it is ready for battle. Choose health (peace) with every dietary and lifestyle choice you make.
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