Years ago a friend of mine and I were driving down Somerset Street, between Bank and O’Connor. He was driving and I was the passenger. He had his window open and was talking to me about something. All of a sudden, with his window down as well, another driver on the opposite side of the road, travelling in the opposite direction, sneezed out his window quite strongly. At the same time that the other driver was sneezing, our two cars passed by each other and my friend was the surprised receiver of that sneeze. We’re talking right in his face, eyes and mouth! This was at the same time, both completely disgusting and hilarious from my point of view. If I had been on the receiving end of that sneeze, I don’t think I would have been laughing so much. Without getting into the mathematical description of the odds of this happening, let’s just say it happened. And still he didn’t get sick with anything.
The immune system’s first line of defence is the skin and the lining of the airways. This is where first contact is made by airborne particles. If we for example touch an infected surface and then we rub our eyes or lick our fingers, we will introduce that pathogen into our bodies. We can also introduce pathogens into our bodies by breathing.
At this first line of defence (on the skin and on the lining of the airways) are immune cells that stand ready to fight off any invaders that happen to be introduced into the body. If the immune cells are overwhelmed, there is a secondary line of defence in the blood and lymph throughout the body always on standby.
If we were like the “Boy in the bubble” and didn’t have an immune system to speak of, then we wouldn’t survive very long at all. We are constantly mingling with various bacteria and viruses on a daily basis and the immune system is constantly learning from these interactions. We are constantly developing an immunity to what’s in our environment. Our health depends on our immune system being challenged. If we were to live in a bubble that was completely void of any bacteria or viruses, we would die. Our bodies depend on interacting with microbes of all kinds. We are an ecosystem. If you eliminate just one or two things from this balanced equation, the whole system gets thrown off, stressed and it becomes more and more challenging to find balance again. In other words, disease is able to take hold.
When looking at how the immune system works, we must look at the two main theories of disease, namely the germ theory and the terrain theory. In short the germ theory states that pathogens like bacteria and viruses cause disease. Their mere presence indicates sickness. The terrain theory says that the health of the “soil” is what determines the susceptibility of the body to disease. In other words, if the terrain is healthy and working well, you either won’t get sick or if you do get sick, you’ll recover and adapt.
We have what’s referred to as the Human Microbiome. “Large and diverse populations of bacteria, viruses, and fungi occupy almost every surface of the human body.1It is estimated that there are nearly 30 trillion bacterial cells living in or on each human.2” (https://bit.ly/3dauolb) and part of that is the Human Virome. “The composition of the human virome includes viruses that infect human cells, ancient virus-derived elements inserted in our chromosomes, and bacteriophages that infect a broad array of bacteria that inhabit us.” (Microbiome. 2016; 4: 32.)
When the germ theory became the predominant theory in medicine, the focus became to identify and eliminate germs altogether, the theory being that if we eliminate germs, we’ll eliminate disease. This was the thinking behind antibiotics. And now we have super bugs. (https://bit.ly/2zTTZka)
By not taking into account the terrain and existing microbiome, we risk creating imbalances that will lead to more disease through more virulent strains of pathogens and weaker immune systems in people.
Another example of an ecosystem is any garden. You’ll find plants that have been planted and weeds that have found their way into the soil. You’ll also find certain bugs taking hold.
You can choose to throw various herbicides or pesticides onto your garden and this will typically eradicate the pests or weeds. And if that’s all you do, you’re not getting to the root of the problem. It starts with making sure that the soil is clean and that the pH (the relative acidity or alkalinity) of the soil is the main determinant of the health of your plants. If the pH is too high (alkaline) then certain nutrients won’t be available to your plants. If the soil is too acidic (low pH), the same is true. If your plants can’t access nutrients in the soil, guess what happens? It turns out that if your plants have a healthy soil to start with, they’ll be able to resist most pests and weeds. What’s more is that the pests and weeds are less likely to even be an issue if the soil that you’re starting with is healthy.
It’s the same thing when it comes to the human body. If you maintain a healthy body (alignment, nutrition, sleep, etc.), you’ll be able to resist most disease processes including viruses and bacteria and you’ll be able to maintain balance. With this pandemic, now that we are moving towards the other side of it, there are numbers to see that all over the world, depending on the region, that between 90-96% or the population that was infected with Covid-19 have recovered and now have immunity.
Usually the body can handle anything that’s introduced to it through its lines of defence. If you are driving along and a stranger sneezes in your eyes and mouth, your body will have more to deal with and maybe could get overwhelmed. But what are the chances?:)