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How to strengthen immunity in the winter?

With the approach of winter, it is necessary to prevent viral and bacterial infections. Once the temperatures drop below zero, our patients are especially concerned about the flu virus. And the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus worries them, too: the new “Centaur” variant, which comes to us from India, completely escapes vaccines. As for monkeypox (monkeypox) – an infectious disease characterized by a rash accompanied by a fever or lymph nodes – it mainly affects men who have sex with men. But their distribution within the population does not reassure patients”, emphasizes Dr. François Mollet, general practitioner of homeopathy, hypnotherapist, regulator of SAMU (Angers). Other epidemics mainly affect infants, such as bronchiolitis or gastroenteritis. To all this are added viruses Winter and bacterial diseases: colds, angina, otitis, sinusitis, cough …

Complicating our immune defenses

In order to be able to combat these conditions in the optimal way, we need to strengthen our immune defenses. But what does it consist of? Our immune system assembles all the physical mechanisms to fight off pathogens: these bacteria (salmonella, staphylococcus, etc.), viruses (influenza, COVID-19, etc.), parasites (malaria, intestinal worms, etc.), yeasts, fungi – which make us sick. . It is made up of organs, cells (called white blood cells or leukocytes) and proteins (antibodies) that help the body protect itself from these infectious agents. Immunity is also related to the concepts of ‘self’ and ‘not-self’. The latter corresponds to any substance foreign to the body that our immune system has identified as such,” says Dr. Mollet.

Innate and acquired immunity

There are two types of immunity: the so-called “innate” type – genetically inherited and present from birth – and the “acquired” type, which develops over time, through our bodies contact with microbes as well as through an inoculation medium. When an infectious agent penetrates the body, it collides with the natural primary defense barriers that surround the internal environment (skin and its microbes, sweat, tears, etc.). Then it triggers an inflammatory reaction: immune cells will develop, specialize and fight the infectious agent by phagocytosis (these cells will “eat” the foreign body). “The cell, by phagocytosis of the foreign body, will present the constituent elements of this invader to the surface: these are called antigens. The latter is then recognized by other immune cells as belonging to the ‘non-self’ resulting in a response that adapts in a very specific way: these are Acquired immunity. The latter is supported by two types of cells: B and T lymphocytes. And the T lymphocytes will trace the infection in memory. This allows, if the infection returns, a more predictable and amplified response against the infectious agent,” notes Dr. Mollet.

Bet on micro-nutrition

In addition to its antioxidant effect, zinc helps maintain microbial balance. On the other hand, vitamin C is particularly involved in cell movement. Vitamin D and magnesium also have an important function in stimulating immunity. Selenium has an effect that prevents the reproduction of the virus. To strengthen immunity, I advise my patients, starting in the fall, to take vitamin D and zinc (at least 15 mg) daily. Magnesium supplements should be in some bioavailable form (magnesium citrate, glycerophosphate, or malate: 400 to 6000 mg daily). The intake of vitamin C should not be less than 500 grams per day. Moreover, beware of taking regular paracetamol which lowers our immune defenses,” notes Dr. Mollet.

Immune-lowering agents

Stress at work – Source: spm

Immune depression is a pathological condition that reflects a weakened immune system: this occurs in some diseases (cancer, HIV, etc.). Other factors, such as psychological stress, can reduce our immune defenses. Stress leads to the production of certain hormones (adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol), the excess of which leads to a decrease in immunity. On the other hand, oxidative stress corresponds to cellular biochemical reactions that eventually lead to the production of excess free radicals (unstable oxygen molecules that take electrons from other molecules to stabilize themselves). In high doses, these substances are highly toxic, causing genetic mutations and premature cellular aging. “An unhealthy lifestyle (a high-fat diet, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, excessive exposure to the sun, etc.) promotes oxidative stress. On the other hand, certain antioxidants make it possible to neutralize free radicals: vitamin C, A and E; Zinc. Magnesium, selenium, polyphenols from red fruit, resveratrol from cocoa, flavonoids from strawberries…”, says Dr. Mollet. Other causes of immunosuppression include poor diet, dysregulation of the intestinal flora (the bacteria that develop inside the digestive tract), tobacco and alcohol consumption, certain medications such as corticosteroids, chemotherapy or again anti-inflammatories.

Aromatherapy for immune support

Colds should be treated at the first symptoms to avoid bacterial infection. In aromatherapy, essential oils (HE) with purifying and antiviral properties (niaouli, lemongrass, ravintsara) can be diffused into the air (bedroom, living room). Most angina is viral and resolves without special treatment. Lozenges consisting of HE (honey, propolis, lavender, lemon, eucalyptus) are effective. Eucalyptus or thyme essential oils can be used by inhalation, applied to a ball of breadcrumbs (taken orally) or inside the wrist (one drop two to three times a day). To free the sinuses, you can choose HE of eucalyptus radiata (2 drops in a handkerchief, in the carpal cavity or orally on small breadcrumbs).

balanced lifestyle

To improve immunity, you must first fight chronic infections in the body. This situation arises, for example, when one suffers from certain diseases: diabetes, obesity, cancers … Therefore, a certain lifestyle and dietary measures are necessary: ​​good sleep adapted to our needs, moderate and regular physical activity (nordic walking, cycling, swimming etc.), a balanced diet, social, recreational and cultural activities. “These measures help prevent or reduce the complications of chronic disorders and diseases responsible for lowered immunity: diabetes, cancer, cognitive decline … With regard to food, the Cretan diet (abundance of plants; vegetable oils and especially olive oil; and oily fish; and little meat) and dairy products (particularly from sheep) are particularly beneficial for immune health,” states Dr. Mullet.

The power of plants

Echinacea – Source: spm

Some constituent plants (such as red ginseng) boost immunity thanks to their antioxidant effect. Immunomodulatory plants, which have an interesting modulating action on cortisol (the stress hormone): licorice, ginseng and rhodiola in adults and the elderly; Black currant in children. Some plants contain polysaccharides, that is, complex sugars made up of several molecules of simple sugars. The common property of plants that contain it is immune modulation. They contribute, for example, to strengthening the immunity of a tired person who suffers from frequent infections. Echinacea is the immune plant par excellence. It can be taken at all ages to prevent cold season viruses (including gastroenteritis). It is often associated with cypress when immunity is already weakened (patients, the elderly, people receiving medical treatment, etc.). Astragalus is also suitable for elderly people who have an aging immune system and/or weakened due to chronic diseases.

Homeopathy benefits

In winter prevention, homeopathy is a valuable aid for strengthening immunity. “I often offer a simple protocol that works for everyone. Echinacea for its immunomodulatory and anti-pyogenic action. Silicea for strengthening innate immunity, birds in young (children and adolescents) to counteract sinusitis, ear infections and other ENT diseases and Yersin serum in adults and the elderly. I also prescribe thymolin In people who are vulnerable from an ENT point of view. These treatments should be carried out throughout the period of exposure to epidemics.”, concludes Dr. Mollet

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