How to Strengthen Your Immune System Naturally
If you've been wondering how to strengthen your immune system naturally, something ALL cancer patients and anyone with a chronic illness needs to do, you'll get a lot out of this post.
What I discovered through my cancer journey - and what I'm sharing here with you - made a HUGE positive impact on my immune system (even after chemo) and my ultimate healing and recovery to become cancer-free.
So, read on... I really hope it helps YOU do the same.
OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
I think most everyone understands that in order to stay healthy our immune system needs to be in tiptop shape, right?
When I was a kid, my dad used to tell us that a tiny army inside of us could detect invaders, destroy and get rid of them, so we can get well again.
The image of an army of tiny soldiers running amuck inside my body really freaked me out.
Well, I’ve grown to really appreciate that miraculous aspect of the incredible healing machine we call our body. Although, personally, I prefer imagery of everything working in HARMONY inside of me, rather than images of an internal battle or war.
Regardless, as a priority, I do my best to support my immune system on a daily basis, along with the rest of my entire being, so that cancer never EVER recurs in my life time.
A BIT OF BACKGROUND
Did you know that the word “cancer” is an umbrella term used to describe more than two hundred diseases resulting from abnormal cell division?
Two hundred! No wonder things get so complicated!
There are many factors that could contribute to the imbalance in our body that allows cancer cells to multiply and proliferate. However, there is ONE vital common denominator, and that is: an overburdened immune system.
Five years ago, when I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of lymphoma (with a 10% chance of survival), my inner Sherlock Holmes came out big time to figure out what may have happened to my immunity that allowed this to happen.
And, mainly how I could get rid of cancer as soon as possible.
That’s a pretty universal and logical approach, right? Get this damn thing out of my body!
Most conventional cancer therapies focus on precisely that: how to shrink and eradicate the tumors. And, in many cases, that’s exactly the right course of action, such as when a tumor is pressing on a vital organ in our body. Or, often, when aggressive cancer tumors have spread and need to be slowed down quickly.
Yet, that particular approach doesn’t always work long term since it doesn’t address the root cause: what caused the cancer cells to take over in the first place? What is it about our internal environment that allowed for that to happen?
Our body is an incredible self-healing machine, equipped with millions of metabolic processes that take place under the radar, unbeknownst to us, to bring our body back to a state of balance.
HOW DOES CANCER HAPPEN? (This is the science-made-easy part...)
Each day, billions of cells are continually produced and eliminated in our body, and each time a cell divides there is a chance a mistake, or a mutation, can occur. Why? It could be a DNA replication mistake caused by external environmental influences (toxic fumes, chemical exposures, UV light, pesticides, pollution).
Sometimes a virus enters a cell and interferes with its genetic make up (cervical, liver and certain lymphomas).
And, just the simple act of living our daily lives puts us in contact with stressors of all sorts at physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual levels.
WHAT ABOUT GENETICS?
The emerging field of epigenetics has discovered that our genes only contribute about 5-10% to cancers, with diet and lifestyle factors playing about a 90% role.
That's GREAT NEWS, right?
That means that if you can identify what those contributing factors might be for you, you can find ways to neutralize them so you can get back to a state of balance. And that means: robust health and well-being.
Some of those contributing factors affect the optimal functioning of your immune system, which becomes overburdened and can’t deal with too much of a toxic load.
WHAT ABOUT OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM?
Under normal circumstances, cells that have been infected with viruses, other pathogens and mutated cells that become cancerous, are typically identified by the elite forces of our innate immune system called Natural Killer cells (NK cells). Though they only make about 10% of our total white blood cells, they’re present in all tissues in the body, ready to deal with any threats that may arise.
NK cells are our first line of defense and can detect, attack and kill unhealthy cells quickly by injecting a toxic substance into the cell. Then they release a hormone that stimulates other white blood cells nearby to come and gobble up the remains of the dead cell.
Such an amazing miracle of the healing machine that is our body!
Watch this quick video to see how NK cells kill cancer cells.
Pretty amazing, right? Our body is truly a miraculous thing!
Unfortunately, as we age and are exposed to various stressors and toxins, our NK cell function can weaken and become ineffective. And, those rogue mutated cells can escape, multiply endlessly and never die, because they lack the self-regulating program which ends their existence like other normal cells (you may have heard of the term "apoptosis").
So, they escape the immune system barrier, proliferate, bunch up together and…
Voila! We have a tumor.
This process can take years, in many cases, unbeknownst to us.
All of this to say…
It’s absolutely crucial to maintain the proper functioning of our immune system, especially our Natural Killer cells that identify invaders first thing.
SO, HOW DO YOU STRENGTHEN YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM?
There are many ways to maintain our immune system in good shape.
First, all chronic diseases, including cancer, stem from some sort of toxicity, so it’s crucial to detoxify our bodies to reverse the condition. (You may want to read a post I wrote about detoxing right here.)
It’s essential to provide the body with vast amounts of nutrition through a nutritionally-dense diet. (If you're not sure what that is, let me know.)
Get excellent, restful sleep.
Get regular gentle exercise (walking and rebounder are great).
Manage stressors at all levels to the best of our ability.
A substantial part of our immune system lives in our gut, which is affected in some significant way by toxicity. It’s essential to increase the permeability of our gastrointestinal tract, through proper balance of bacteria, among other factors, to allow toxins to easily be removed and to be able to absorb as much nutrition as possible.
THIS MADE AN ENORMOUS DIFFERENCE IN MY HEALING
When I embarked on my cancer journey back in 2014, I did a series of blood tests suggested by my naturopathic oncologist, to get a baseline for my immune system function. (See the P.S. below for some test info).
What we discovered SHOCKED ME!
Though I had the right number of NK cells, even on the lowish end of the scale, they were completely asleep!
My NK cell activity results showed under 2, where normal is considered to be between 50-300 by the lab, and low under 50. My NK cells were just floating around, taking a nap. (I love naps, but this was ridiculous.)
These are my initial lab results, in October 2014:
What? No wonder!
So, through a lengthy (and expensive) process, I tried various types of supplements typically associated with stimulating immune system response over several months:
Several types of mushrooms (reishi, shitake, chaga, turkey tail, maitake, cordyceps).
Also a product called Fucoidan, obtained from brown algae, known for its immune-modulation effects, to promote activation of dendritic cells, natural killer cells and T cells.
Three months on each type of supplement, and then the blood test.
None did the trick for me. It was hugely disappointing. (NOTE: Those supplements may work very well and be perfect for YOU, they just didn’t work for me.)
Finally, I tried a product called Aloe Arborescence Immune Health Formula.
After several months we tested again and my lovely arsenal of NK cells were finally doing their job (even after chemo!) Though still under normal, the numbers were climbing markedly in September, 2015.
Can’t tell you how elated I was! Plus, the fact that I was NED (No Evidence of Disease) due to the integrative combination of treatments and therapies I decided to do, along with all the inner healing work and dietary/lifestyle changes I adopted.
I’ve continued using the product on a maintenance protocol all these years later, and my NK activity is within normal ranges (in August, 2018 I had to switch to a different lab for insurance reasons.)
According to their website (with lots of scientific evidence-based studies of aloe arborescence):
"The Brazilian Supreme Immune Health Formula (with aloe arborescens) provides a remedy aimed at increasing or revitalizing a compromised immune defense system. It provides gentle systemic detoxification of the whole body as well as vast amounts of nutritional support."
There are a lot of benefits that you can read about on their website (to not make this post longer than it already is!)
The maintenance dose is 1 tbsp in a bit of water three times per day on empty stomach - 10 days on, 10 days off (the taste is very pleasant). During an active healing crisis (such as cancer, an active cold, etc.) I take it every day for one month, then go into maintenance mode. It's mild tasting yet really powerful.
I know this may sound a bit like a commercial of sorts. Yet, I wouldn't tell you about this if I didn't believe in it wholeheartedly. All I can say is, it absolutely worked for me (as you can see in my lab results above) and this is one of the primary supplements I still use in my arsenal.
If you're needing to boost your immune system, aside from doing all the things mentioned above, ask your intuition if this aloe arborescens product might be right for you.
To be perfectly transparent, I do receive a small commish when you click on the links on this post, without affecting your price at all. It's a way for me to make a bit of cashola as I share all the things that worked for me in healing from cancer and creating a state of optimal health and wellness.
If you have ANY QUESTIONS about how I used this product, feel free to ask me.
Or visit their website where they have LOTS of awesome info, scientific studies, and great support.
Strengthening your immune system is ONE piece of the puzzle. If you need support with figuring out other factors that may be contributing to this imbalance in your life, you know where to find us.
There are many ways in which we can support you and your caregivers through your cancer journey to help you create your most positive outcome possible.
Wishing you the VERY BEST in health, always.
Eli (and Joseph)
Certified Holistic Cancer Coach
You can click HERE or on the banner to go directly to their website. See what you think.
P.S. If you want to test your NK activity as a baseline or at any other time, your doctor or naturopath can order the test through a lab called LabCorp.
The test is called:
NK cell functional assay (code: 807502). It may or may not be covered by your insurance.
PLEASE NOTE: The lab kit needs to be ordered AHEAD OF TIME, since it's sent to another lab in Montana. So make sure you call ahead 7-10 days in advance of having the test done. Otherwise, you'll be wasting your time. Best wishes!