“One Doctor’s Healing Perspective”
Dr. R. B. Kniskern, Ph.D., L. Ac., O.M.D., Ph. D.
San Carlos Medical Center, Inc.
(Specializing In Acupuncture)
1328 El Camino Real
San Carlos, California 94070
The Body Of Evidence.
This presentation is a collection of information I have amassed through my 23 year academic and 25 year professional career. It is a compilation of data and facts meant to inform and stimulate those who would read it. Here, I intend to initiate or re-initiate the “Learning Sense” in all of us where I urge you to do your own research and uncover your own Healthy Life Style information which makes sense to you in creating life long habits for improving and maintaining your health and the health of family & loved ones.
It is my strong belief that the human immune system is the best weapon – – ultimately, perhaps, the only weapon – – against disease. I also feel that an immune system properly nourished can fight disease more readily than an immune system which is not. Accordingly, I strongly espouse the philosophy of Nutritional Immunology – – a study which focuses on the prevention of illness, rather than the cure. It is a discipline which favors strengthening and nourishing over prescription and treatment. With this, however, I wish to make clear that I do not consider our modern medical system hopelessly flawed. Quite to the contrary, medicine plays an absolutely vital role in human health, both today and in the future. What I am saying is that I realize the enormous power the immune system contains; it is an extremely effective weapon that we are only beginning to understand and appreciate. Research performed in the last five years has shown undeniable proof that proper nutrition plays an essential role in strengthening the immune system.
THE INCREDIBLE IMMUNE SYSTEM
A look at the body’s own battlefield: the human immune system. Without the immune system the body would not be able to defend against disease and illness. The immune system consists of monocytes, which act as sentinels; antibodies, natural killer cells and cytotoxic T-cells which act as artillery; helper and suppressor T-cells which sound the alarm; and macrophages which clean up the battlefield.
The components of the human immune system are many and varied. The major constituents are the bone marrow, thymus, lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils, appendix, Peyer’s patches, and lymphatic vessels- all of which protect the body against dangerous toxins and invading microorganisms. Lymph organs, such as the lymph nodes, aid the immune system in cleaning the blood and lymph. Lymph is the fluid that circulates in the body and traps harmful organisms that are floating in the bloodstream. The lymphatic system is something like a drainage system-one of its functions being to remove foreign substances from the blood. Also, as modern drainage systems in cities control the cities’ supply of water, the lymphatic system also controls the body’s tissue fluid balance. The lymphatic system also controls the body’s absorption of fat.
Lymph fluid, which we have noted bathes all the tissues of the body, is transported throughout the body by the lymphatic vessels. Lymph contains cells called macrophages- sometimes referred to as the “garbage men” of the body. They are the clean up crew. If you were to observe a macrophage cell through a microscope you would see that it looked like it had many tiny hands. These hands actually reach out and grab bacteria, allowing the macrophage to engulf the invader and destroy it. Lymph nodes are bean-shaped organs that act as lymph filters. Nearly 99% of bacteria entering a lymph node is trapped in it and destroyed.
When we have an injury- a cut for example- some swelling normally develops around the wound. This is merely an indicator that blood containing lymph and macrophage cells have rushed to the injury site to destroy bacteria entering the cut. The cut becomes swollen and inflamed as the battle to prevent infection rages on. Nearly always, when the immune system is healthy, the lymphoid cells win the battle and destroy all of the bacteria.
Another important member of the immune system response is the natural killer cell. This remarkable cell is the body’s strongest defense against cancer and tumors. Although much smaller than the cancer cells it fights, the natural killer cell has the capability of literally attaching itself to the cancer cell until the cancer cell has been eliminated.
THE “SEEK AND DESTROY” FUNCTION
The immune system is uniquely organized to carry out its functions. The body’s first line of defense against disease and infection is the skin and mucous tissues of the respiratory passages which trap many harmful elements before they can enter the body. The second line of defense lies within the body itself where elements of the immune system are on a constant “seek and destroy” mission. The third line of defense in the immune system is composed of certain organs, such as the lymph nodes and the spleen, which contain a system of passages through which lymph and blood circulate constantly. In this way harmful elements can be removed from the blood and lymph before they have the opportunity to multiply. Each of these lines of defense depend upon an immune system that is nourished and healthy, however.
THE CONSTANT DEFENSE FUNCTION
Microscopic predators constantly invade our bodies in the form of bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other microbes. As we noted, our skin forms the best defense against these invaders, and the natural “pesticides” in our sweat glands, saliva, and tears play an additional defensive role. Some of these foes are expelled with a sneeze or a cough. Stomach acids, mucus, and other internal fluids also aid in thwarting their assault. Nevertheless, because of their numbers and persistence, many organisms are able to reach these fortifications. They then enter the blood stream where they often multiply at an alarming rate. It was recently discovered that the minute dust mites which live in the mattresses and pillows of most homes cause a number of allergic responses among people. It is somewhat alarming to think that even as we sleep, our body is under attack from unseen organisms.
Most people naturally assume that illness develops suddenly- seemingly overnight many times. With few exceptions, however, this is not the case. Most diseases develop gradually over an extended period of time. Some microbes remain in the body for years before actually provoking the first symptoms of infection (an example of this phenomenon is the AIDS virus which has up-to a ten year incubation period). When the initial symptoms finally do surface, most of us naturally search for a “cure” that works immediately. Realistically, of course, such a cure rarely exists. Just as it takes time for the invading bacteria or viruses to multiply to the point where they can overcome the body’s defenses, it takes time for the body’s immune system to fortify itself against their attacks and take measures to fully eliminate them. Time must also be allowed for the body to repair damage that has been done to the tissues and organs by invading microorganisms.
NO CURE FOR THE COMMON COLD
Even with today’s remarkable scientific advancements, most people are aware that we lack a cure for the common cold. Many people believe, nonetheless, that aspirin, expensive cold medications, or their grandmother’s own special remedies are all that is required to cure their cold. What we may not fully appreciate is the fact that all these drugs and medications do is suppress the symptoms of the cold. They do nothing to eliminate the virus that is the cause.
Most of us try to get extra rest when we come down with a cold or flu. It is in fact because of these extra periods of rest, when we give our body’s immune system the extra strength and fuel it requires, that our immune system is completely able to overcome the invading microbes. Even if a single microbe remains, the battle can begin again, giving the virus other opportunities to mutate.
(Thank you for reading Part 1 of “One Doctor’s Healing Perspective”. Stay tuned for more of this informative read, which will be added to on a weekly basis.)