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Lactoferrin and the Immune System

Fortunately New Zealand and Australia have two excellent home grown products to boost immune function and help keep you healthy.

Fortunately New Zealand and Australia have two excellent home grown products to boost immune function and help keep you healthy.

Lactoferrin has over 1295 published and peer reviewed scientific and medical papers on its positive effects on immune function – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=bovine%20lactoferrin

As a first line defensive protein already utilised by the immune system, it is extremely well tolerated with no toxicity or side effects. Whilst it is found in the mucosal linings of the body, this is very useful in guarding against upper respiratory tract infections (URTI’s), as it is these airway mucosal linings in which the viruses lodge. There are two types of Lactoferrin – regular or halo-lactoferrin, and a stronger type, apo-lactoferrin. Immunecare produces both types. There is an advantage of convenience in taking the stronger version, as the therapeutic dose is one capsule per day as compared with three a day for regular lactoferrin. Some people think that lactoferrin contains lactose because of its name, but it is lactose free. Because Lactoferrin is also a good antifungal supplement, it is a good choice for maiantainance once you have got a candida overgrowth under control.

The human immune system is an amazingly complex organisation. The most important function of this vital system takes place at the cellular level of the blood and tissues. The lymphatic and blood circulation systems are highways for specialised white blood cells to travel round the body. White blood cells include B cells, T cells, natural killer cells,and macrophages. Each has a different responsibility, but all function together with the primary objective of recognising, attacking and destroying bacteria, viruses, cancer cells, and all substances seen as foreign. Without this coordinated effort, a person would not be able to survive more than a few days before succumbing to overwhelming infection.

Infections set off an alarm that alerts the immune system to bring out its defensive weapons. Natural killer cells and macrophages rush to the scene to gobble up and digest infected cells. If the first line of defence fails to control the threat, antibodies, produced by the B cells, upon the order of T helper cells, are custom-designed to hone in on the invader. If the immune system weakens, its ability to defend the body also weakens, allowing pathogens, including viruses that cause common colds and flu, to grow and flourish in the body.

The immune system also performs surveillance of tumour cells, and immune suppression has been reported to increase the risk of certain types of cancer. The immune system is often divided into two sections:- innate immunity, encompasses unchanging mechanisms that are continuously in force to ward off harmful influences; adaptive immunity, responds to new influences by mounting an immune response.

The immune system defends the body by learning to recognise things that are ‘non-self’, and then attacking and neutralising them. For instance, the plasma membrane of every ‘nucleated’ cell contains molecules of a large glycoprotein, called the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). These proteins have configurations and amino acid sequences that are unique to every individual. Cytotoxic T cells (T cells that directly destroy cells) contain surface-mounted receptors that are used to determine if a given cell is virally-infected by reading the peptides displayed on its MHC molecules. During their development, T cells are selected for self-reactivity. If a given cell contains receptors that bind strongly to an existing molecule in the body, it is destroyed by forced apoptosis (cell death), leaving behind T cells that can be safely released into the body. A variety of disorders linked to automimmunity can ensue if this recognition goes wrong.

The adaptive immune system may take days or weeks, after an initial infection, to have an effect. However, most organisms are under constant assault from pathogens, which must be kept in check by the faster-acting innate immune system. Innate immunity fights pathogens using defences that are quickly mobilised and triggered by receptors that recognise a wide range of pathogens.

The first-line defence includes barriers to infection, such as skin and the mucus coating of the gut and airways, which physically prevent the interaction between the host and the pathogen. This is the area where Lactoferrin works particularly well, as it naturally occurs in these mucosal linings. Studies have shown that Lactoferrin can stop viruses entering human cells, thereby stopping them in their tracks.

The second-line defence includes phagocytic cells that can engulf foreign substances. The phagocytic cells envelop and ingest the bacterium by means of the enzymes in the lysosome, involving proteases. In addition, antimicrobial proteins may be activated if a pathogen passes through the barrier offered by skin. A cascade of protein activity may follow resulting in a variety of effects, including inflammation. The adaptive immune system is the part of the immune system that people are most familiar with. Also called the “acquired immune system”, this ensures that the body survives an initial infection by a pathogen, and is generally immune to further illness caused by that same pathogen.

The adaptive immune system is based on dedicated immune cells termed leukocytes (white blood cells) that are produced by stem cells in the bone marrow, and mature in the thymus and/or lymph nodes. It is worth noting at this point that the thymus gland shrinks in size and effectiveness as one ages. The thymus of a typical 60 year old will be smaller and less effective than that of a 20 year old. It is no coincidence that the immune systems of our more senior citizens are much less effective than our younger citizens, and that they are much more prone to infections. T cell production, one of the mainstays of the immune function, becomes impaired with advancing years. It has been noted by doctors in America, however, that reversal of this atrophy can take place with Colostrum supplementation.

Colostrum contains 37 different immune factors that the body uses to fight infection, and as such is an ideal broad spectrum support for the immune system.

Many factors can also contribute to the general weakening of the immune system:
• Poor eating habits, including a moderate sugar diet, and alcohol abuse

• Medications (particularly the use of anti-cancer drugs, corticosteroids and retroviral drugs)

• Antibiotics (studies have shown that you are between two and six times more likely to suffer a reinfection after taking antibiotics, than if you do not take them).

• Radiation

• Exposure to environmental and chemical toxins, cigarette smoke,and polluted air

• Stress (research shows that psychological stress can greatly increase your susceptibility to colds, and other viral diseases).