Weakened immune system
The main function of the immune system is to fight off foreign pathogens that attempt to attack the body. If the immune system is weakened, a person is more likely to contract an infection. There are two key types of immunity: innate and acquired. Innate immunity is the first line of defence for the body and it relies on the recognition of patterns on foreign pathogens, to which the body responds in a standard and predictable manner. As the body encounters more pathogens, it develops acquired immunity – which is superior to innate immunity, since it has memory (the second immune response to the same organism will be faster and better) and it produces a well co-ordinated barrage of insults to destroy the invading pathogen. Nevertheless, a person cannot live without functional innate and acquired immunity. Optimal immune function is a balancing act between an overactive immune system that can trigger an autoimmune response and an underactive immune system that can leave a person vulnerable to infection. Inappropriate immune activity can cause conditions such as allergies, lupus, pernicious anaemia, rheumatic heat disease, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.
Causes: cleaning products, overuse of antibiotics, pesticides, stress and environmental pollutants. Symptoms: fatigue, repeated infections, inflammation, allergic reactions, impaired wound healing, oral thrush, systemic candidiasis and vaginal yeast infections.
Who to consult: Dentist, dietician, GP, herbalist, homoeopath, immunologist, meditation practitioner, naturopath, pharmacist.