A natural shield exists to keep the body healthy from infection. Therefore, it’s important to understand some basics of how the immune system works to kill viruses and bacteria.
Two Lines of Defense
The immune system has two lines of defense: the innate and adaptive immune system. In order to infect the body, a microscopic virus must get past the innate immune system, the first line of defense.
The innate immune system is comprised of the skin, cilia (e.g. microscopic hair), lining of the lungs and stomach, and mucus.These physical barriers are highly effective in shielding us from the daily threat of viruses.
The innate immune system also uses phagocytes, natural killer cells, and inflammation to kill pathogens. Phagocytes (e.g. neutrophils and macrophages) engulf and destruct the virus. They also signal the adaptive immune system, the second line of defense.
You Better Recognize
Host cells have the ability to recognize a viral infection. Host cells infected by a virus destruct material used to “clone” itself to prevent spread. During the destruction of cloning material, the cell produces interferons to attract natural killer cells. Natural killer cells invoke self-destruction of the infected cell. During the destruction of the virus, interferons also signal the adaptive immune system.
Bringing The Heat
Lastly, inflammation occurs at the sight of infection. Inflammation is caused by our body bringing blood and proteins that create swelling, redness, and pain. Inflammation drives all the immune system troops and sentinels to the infection site. Also, the inflammatory process elicits a fever which increases the effectiveness of the immune army and destroys pathogens.
The Second Line Of Defense
Before we discuss the adaptive immune system, let’s briefly review the autonomic nervous system (ANS) from last week’s article. The ANS extends from the Central Nervous System (CNS), the brain, and the spinal cord. An alternate name for the ANS is the peripheral nervous system.
The ANS controls bodily functions that don’t involve consciousness such as your heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, digestion, sweat, and much more. Also, the ANS controls the immune system defenses. The immune system has two lines of defense: the innate and adaptive. The innate defense attacks viruses within minutes and alerts the the adaptive immune system which takes 1 to 2 weeks to take full effect.
Lasting Protection From Infection
The adaptive immune system is highly specific and can provide long lasting effects against some viruses by using T and B cells. B cells secrete antibodies that attach to a virus to prevent reproduction of the virus and tag them for other defenses to destroy. These antibodies can provide a long lasting defense against the same virus. T cells directly break up viruses into pieces, and signal other cells to dispose of the infected pieces. Once is a virus is destroyed, memory B and T cells are produced. Memory B and T cells remain in the body in case the same virus reinfects the body. With memory B and T cells present, certain viruses may not cause reinfection. In most cases, it can create a natural immunity.
The above happens under optimal ANS control. There are instances when the immune response goes haywire. This is observed with autoimmune diseases – a self destruction of the body. Therefore, it’s extremely important to have constant communication between the ANS and the immune defensive army.
How does this relate to Structural Chiropractic?
The spinal cord (i.e. the main communicative highway) connects the brain and immune system response. We want to immune system response working at optimum levels. Therefore, it’s important to keep the spinal cord free of obstructions. Obstructions stem from spinal segment shifts that occur from daily challenges to the spine. Daily challenges to the spine can occur from the following: working out, poor postural habits, working on a computer, sitting for too long, and improper pillows – just to name a few. Our comprehensive care and specific adjustments, remove obstructions from the spinal cord.