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How Not to Fight Colds 
NYTimes |  By JENNIFER ACKERMAN Published: October 4, 2010

  • Do you think that people are starting to get the idea that science has turned immunity and viruses, bacteria and how the body protects and fights upside down?
  • How does Homeopathy look at the immune system? Is this different from the vital force? 
  • Homeopaths have seen the SYMPTOMS not as a result of germ warfare, but as the body's indicators that it is functioning properly to throw off disharmony, imbalance and other dysfunctions. Yet, once this is set into motion, sometimes the body is not able to stop this cycle due to other factors, including emotion, environment, nutrition and other sensitivities. 
  • Please post your comments about the article below and the theory and approach to viruses and colds and how our bodies react to winter, infection, and all the factors that set us sneezing. 

 IN early fall, a few weeks after the start of school, cold viruses wing their way from one young nose to another and thence to families and the workplace, infecting people at three to four times the rate at other times of year. And so the cold season begins and, with it, the relentless sneezing, coughing and sniffling that continue well into winter.

Most of us come down with at least a couple of colds a year; children get up to a dozen. But we all know people who seem never to catch one. What’s their secret? Do they have extraordinarily robust immune systems, and the rest of us, pathetically weak ones? You might think this was key, given the number of nutritional supplements, cold remedies and fortified cereals on the market that purport to augment the immune system — often with the help of vitamins, zinc or ginseng — and by so doing stave off colds.

But science and experience don’t back this up. On the contrary, if you’re keen on tamping down your own cold, “boosting” your immunity may be the last thing you want to do.

To understand why this is so requires a bit of knowledge about how colds work. There are more than 200 cold viruses, the most common of which are rhinoviruses (from the Greek “rin-,” for “nose”). When you encounter a particular strain, your body eventually produces antibodies to it, which remain on hand to quash that virus the next time you’re exposed. But with so many flavors of cold virus circulating, there’s always a new one to catch.

From the look of it, these ubiquitous cold bugs are mischief-makers in our bodies. For decades, people thought this was the case — that the runny nose, sore throat and sneezing we experience with colds resulted from the destructive effects of the virus itself on the innocent cells of our noses and throats. After all, flu viruses work this way; they destroy the cells of our respiratory tract, wreaking havoc in our airways.

But, as medical science has realized over the past few decades, the most prevalent cold viruses in fact do little direct harm to our cells. In one experiment in 1984, researchers at the University of Copenhagen performed biopsies on nasal tissue taken from people suffering severe colds, then did the same after the subjects had recovered. To the scientists’ surprise, none of the samples showed any sign of damage to the nasal tissue. Further vindicating the viruses themselves was another study around the same time showing that rhinoviruses infect only a small number of cells lining the nasal passages.

Here was a new insight in cold science: the symptoms are caused not by the virus but by its host — by the body’s inflammatory response. Chemical agents manufactured by our immune system inflame our cells and tissues, causing our nose to run and our throat to swell. The enemy is us.

Indeed, it’s possible to create the full storm of cold symptoms with no cold virus at all, but only a potent cocktail of the so-called inflammatory mediators that the body makes itself — among them, cytokines, kinins, prostaglandins and interleukins, powerful little chemical messengers that cause the blood vessels in the nose to dilate and leak, stimulate the secretion of mucus, activate sneeze and cough reflexes and set off pain in our nerve fibers.

So susceptibility to cold symptoms is not a sign of a weakened immune system, but quite the opposite. And if you’re looking to quell those symptoms, strengthening your immune system may be counterproductive. It could aggravate the symptoms by amplifying the very inflammatory agents that cause them.

In any case, the supplements, remedies and cereals that claim to strengthen immunity (and thereby protect you from colds) do no such thing. It would be one thing if by some magic they made your body produce antibodies to any particular virus. But they don’t. And though some of these products contain ingredients that have been shown in studies to affect elements of the immune system, there’s scant evidence that they bolster protection against infection by cold viruses. No one knows which immune agents — other than antibodies — accomplish that.

There’s another intriguing paradox here. Studies suggest that about one in four people who get infected with a cold virus don’t get sick. The virus gets into their bodies, and eventually they produce antibodies to it, but they don’t experience symptoms. It may be that people like this are not making the normal amounts of inflammatory agents.

It seems counterintuitive, but there it is: People with more active immune systems may be especially prone to cold symptoms. So getting a cold may be a positive sign that your biochemical defenses are working normally — a glass-half-full view of getting the sniffles.

Jennifer Ackerman is the author of “Ah-Choo!: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold.”

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Dear Debby Bruck,
I must appreciate you for selecting such an article which will show the major mistake which is being done by the eminent immunologists in identifying the enemy causing diseases in human body.

When viruses attack human body, the healthy human cells produce a substance called histamine, which excites the defense mechanism of human body to produce the ingredients called cytokines, kinins, prostaglandins, interleukins etc. to mobilize the defense forces named T- cells and B-cells to attack the foreign invaders called micro-organisms.

The function of these ingredients is to raise the temperature of human body causing fever, pain, secretion of mucous substances from all the mucous membranes, which is called inflammatory processes. The purpose of these physiological processes are- (1) to make the immune system alert against the attack from the invaders, (2) to enhance the process of chemotaxis for carrying the defensive forces to the sites of attack, (3) to prevent the invading organisms from entering deep into the vital organs like liver, heart, kidney, etc. (4) to enhance the process of generating antibodies and compliments by the B-cells to identify foreign enemies and to engulf the enemies by the process of phagocytosis by the T- cells. Hence these inflammatory processes are designed by the physiological system to save human body from attack by the foreign invaders.

If the immune system is not prompt enough to mobilize the defense forces like B and T- cells to destroy the invaders in a short period of time, the inflammatory processes go on increasing and become harmful for the host.

When the scientists of medicine failed to develop medicinal substances to boost the immune system to perform the act of defense at a rapid rate without causing much sufferings for the host, they developed a kind of substance called antihistamine to destroy histamines and antipyretics and anti inflammatory drugs like paracetamol to decrease fever and inflammation.

This process gave quick relief for the patients from the sufferings due to cold, fever, pain, etc. But this mode of palliative treatment, stopped the total process of annihilation of external invaders at the cost of causing sufferings for the patients due to fever and pain. After this process of palliative treatment, the human body develops another process of eliminating toxins by the process of defecation causing diarrhea. At that time, anti-diarrheal drugs are used to stop even the last resort of the body for detoxification. This process cause burden on the kidneys, when the body tries to detoxify through the alternative route of elimination by urinary secretion, which sometimes cause burning sensation or edema. The doctors then use diuretics to increase the urinary flow, which sometimes cause damage to the liver and the kidneys. The worst aspect of this type of palliative treatment is the freedom given to the foreign invaders to enter deep into the human body unhindered to cause severe damage by pollution and to change the human DNA into viral DNA to generate malignant cells causing cancer.

Moreover, the over toxicity of the internal environment of human body causes immune system to loose its capacity to identify and differentiate between the self and non-self (good and bad) substances and make mistakes by destroying beneficial substances like insulin, etc. considering them as harmful substances and cause diseases like diabetes, arthritis etc. Diseases due to this wrong decision are called autoimmune diseases (immune system acting against one’s own system). This is a major cause of most of the incurable diseases today, for which the scientists are getting confused. Instead of helping human body by detoxification to make the internal environment clean to take the correct decision by not destroying our beneficial substances, they are using medicines like steroids for suppressing the immune system, which is causing a condition called immuno-compromised condition forcing the immune system to make friendly relation with foreign enemies.

If we do not understand the above mentioned explanation, it will be difficult for us to realize the confusing report of NY Times by JENNIFER ACKERMAN. The whole medical community are confused about the fact. They are not taking one point into consideration. The immune system should act very accurately, without exercising neither over nor under activity. So substances which cause immuno-stimulation are as harmful as immuno-suppression. Hence the ideal way should be immuno-modulation.

The people, who are not getting attacked from cold during the change of season, have a balanced immune system, which can identify and immediately generate the correct type of antibody to destroy the invading virus without causing much sufferings for the infected person. This type of balanced immune system can only be achieved by Homeopathy. By repeatedly disturbing immune system’s normal functioning with the help of drugs like anti-histamine, anti-inflammatory drugs, without helping the process of detoxification by Homeopathic medication, we cannot expect the balanced modulatory function from a human body.

It is a matter of great regret that, the whole community of allopathic medicine are confused about this fact and they are taking unitedly a wrong decision about using the drugs for weakening the immune system instead of modulating the immune system by detoxification and applying naturopathic medicine to help human body to produce the correct type of cytokines in the exact quantity required to destroy the foreign enemy called antigen, instead of using artificially prepared cytokines in massive doses. Because the modulatory effect of cytokines in minimum required dose attains the reverse nature of weakening the immune system in massive dose. This is evident from the damaging effect of Interferon used to treat patients of viral hepatitis causing severe cirrhosis.
Dear Dr Rashid. This is a beautifully written response to help us understand the hidden workings and mechanisms of our body and natural system of protection from harmful influences. So much happens within us DAILY that we do not see. Our body cleanses and maintains itself in a beautiful harmonious natural rhythm. We have daily cycles and seasonal circadian rhythms for each organ.

The interplay and intricacy of the smallest parts of our body cannot be so easily manipulated as to not cause some effects which over time cause imbalances, instead of normal functioning.

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