Keeping Your Immune System Strong
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 9:05AM
Dr. Emily Chan

1. Hot and Cool Showers: You have heard the old wives tale about catching a cold when you get chilled. Even though western medicine says that it is a myth, it may have some truth to it. While you do not necesarrily "get" a virus from the cold, energy may be diverted away from your immune system when you are chilled in efforts of keeping your body temperature stable.

Hot and Cool showers are different because you are exposing yourself to about two rounds of 15-30 seconds of cool water when your body is already warm from the hot shower. That burst of cold actually trains and stimulates your vascular system to constrict faster in response to cold, thus better preserving the heat in your body. You may notice that after taking hot and cool showers for a while that you feel warmer and retain heat better in the cold months. Also brief cold water exposure increases your white blood cells, interleukin-4 and gamma interferon which help fight viruses.

2. Laugh: Laughing and enjoying company can raise endorphin levels (happy hormones), which have a possitive effect on decreasing your stress hormones such as cortisol, and balance your immune system. If your family is stressing you out, try cracking some jokes. You may find that even if you force yourself to laugh, pretty soon, you truly feel happier.

A field of medicine called psychoneuroimmunology studies the relationship of your mood with your nervous sytem and immune system. A research article titled, Sociability and Suceptibility to the common cold showed that people who were more sociable had a lower probability of developing the common cold. Sociability in this study was associated with extraversion, agreeableness and positive relationship style.

3. Vitamin C: When it comes to the immune system, we always think about Vitamin C. Yes, taking 1000-3000mg of vitamin C with bioflavonoids daily during the winter months is a great way to give your immune system a boost. I find that if you feel run down, immediately taking 500-1000mg of vitamin C every hour can in some cases prevent you from geting sick. If your stools get loose, decrease your dosage of vitamin C, but many people can easily tolerate 10,000mg of vitamin C a day.

It is important to recognize the beginning signs of fighting an infection and learn be in tune with your body. Once you come down with a cold, you will still have to go through it, so it is easier to prevent one. Sometimes people will only feel more tired as a sign that they are fighting a virus, and will have no cold symtpoms. Other symptoms that you are possibly fighting a virus may be back pain, headache, feeling more moody, sneezing, or a light tickle in the throat. If you can learn to feel and quickly take action when you have a virus coming on, you've now learned a new tool to increase your chances of eleminating the bug before you even get sick.

Article originally appeared on Naturopathic Doctor San Diego, NET San Diego, Neuro Emotional Technique, Craniosacral Therapy, Stress Reduction (
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