THE IMMUNE SYSTEM ENHANCING DIET
adapted from writings of Gary Null, Ph.D., found on NET
After the Vietnam War, hundreds of thousands of our veterans suffered toxic reactions, neurological damage, and rare cancers. Gulf veterans' ailments include auto immune conditions, ranging from full-blown chronic fatigue syndrome. But the truth is, ever since the bomb testing of the last half of the 20th century, Americans have been born with a huge degree of compromised immune systems. This is always characteristic of radiation bombardment. How best can those suffering from radiation, Gulf War illness or Chronic Fatigue regain their health?
Treatment A nutritional approach to Gulf War syndrome is identical to that you would need for chronic fatigue syndrome, or for AIDS or even for cancer.
Detoxification Whenever immune system augmentation is the goal, the first strategy to take is one of detoxification. That is, people must make dietary changes that will enable their bodies to get rid of poisons that have accumulated over the years and that prevent their systems from operating optimally. To begin detoxifying, some people, depending upon their condition, can benefit greatly from going on a supervised fresh, organic vegetable juice fast for several days.
Foods that are particularly good detoxifiers include pears, blueberries, strawberries, papaya, and apples, and these are all recommended. Other recommendations for detoxification are actually measures that should ideally be continued for a lifetime. These include - in addition to eating a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables - eliminating alcohol and caffeine, as well as refined sugar, from the diet. Meat should, ideally, be eliminated, and dairy products should be eliminated.
Intake of pure water should be increased; water facilitates detoxification and many people go through life consuming a sub optimal amount without realizing it. Water is particularly important for chronic fatigue patients and others who are trying to maximize their immune function. Since cold liquids tend to shock chronic fatigue sufferers, body temp ones are preferable.
General Dietary Guidelines- In general, when one is not tailoring a protocol to a specific patient, dietary recommendations for people with Gulf War syndrome are similar to those that chronic fatigue sufferers have found helpful. Complex carbohydrates, in the form of organic whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, are the mainstay of the diet, which should be low in fat, as high fat diets depress immunocompetence.1
In addition, juices, especially juices containing dark vegetables, such as collards and dandelion, are essential for the chronic fatigue or Gulf War illness patient because they provide an ample supply of immune system boosting enzymes. Other green juices that can be rotated into the diet include cabbage, kale, broccoli, mustard, Swiss chard, spinach, watercress, parsley, and wheat grass. All of these can be juiced together with carrot, beet, garlic, or apple. Also, aloe vera, as well as celery, cucumber, and lemon, can be a valuable component of these juices. These green, chlorophyll rich juices should be taken liberally - six 10 ounce glasses per day are not too much.
Purification and stimulation of the spleen and lymphatic system can be enhanced by consuming fresh dandelions, sprouts, asparagus, mustard greens, radishes, and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower. Sea vegetables, including kombu, wakame, hijiki, arame, and dulse, are beneficial for the maintenance of bone marrow and the thymus gland. Sea vegetables contain trace minerals that are now diminished in foods grown on land.
It is important to incorporate high-quality protein derived from vegetarian sources into the diet. Examples of such sources are tofu, tempeh, fortified soy milk, and legumes. Since fish contain a rich supply of omega-3 fatty acids, small quantities of fresh fish may also be advantageous, but the fish consumed should be obtained from an unpolluted source and should not have been submerged into chlorine during preparation. If a person eats animal protein, consumption of this type of food should not exceed 8 ounces daily. Note that since many animals raised in factory farm conditions are exposed to harmful hormones and pesticides, organic supplies of animal protein are recommended. Also, the body thinks that this protein is a foreign invader, hence deploys immune system and tires itself FIGHTING the protein with anti-bodies.
There is an immune-enhancing soup created by the Chinese that can help weakened individuals regain energy. The recipe consists of a mixture of a whole astragalus root with onions, garlic, ginger, and either organic poultry, fish, tofu, or tempeh. Brown rice and fresh green vegetables can also be added. After the soup reaches the boiling point, it should be allowed to simmer. Finally, miso is added to further boost nutrition, and enhance flavor.
If calorie consumption needs to be increased, recommended foods include avocado, nut butters, balanced, soaked, peeled almonds, and sunflower seeds.
Small quantities of fat are important, but these should come from high-quality sources. A tablespoon of unrefined olive or canola oil can be added to salads. Flaxseed oil and fatty fish, like salmon, are also excellent. Fish oils may be helpful in auto immune conditions. Remember that oils need refrigeration to prevent rancidity.
Oriental mushrooms, like shiitake and maitake, boost the immune system. Shiitake mushrooms contain lentinen, a substance that stimulates the body's interferon and helps to fight viruses. Maitake mushrooms have been shown to be effective against cancer.3,4 Soups and teas can be made from these mushrooms and taken daily.
Garlic is another valuable food. It contains allicin, a potent antibacterial and antiviral agent. When garlic is cooked, allicin is diminished, so this herb is best taken raw or in capsules. Garlic also contains vitamins A and C, thiamine, calcium, potassium, copper, and selenium. Note that garlic can be juiced along with other vegetables.
Supplements- Many chronic fatigue and Gulf War syndrome sufferers have deficiencies of magnesium, chromium, zinc, and other nutrients. Thus, a multivitamin/ multimineral supplement is important.
Beyond this, consuming between 5000 and 10,000 mg of vitamin C daily is beneficial. Numerous studies have demonstrated ascorbic acid's ability to inactivate a variety of viruses, from the common cold to herpes to hepatitis to the AIDS virus. Since this antioxidant tends to be discharged from the body during excretion, distributing the dose over the course of a day is recommended. Also, it should be noted that smoking, among its other drawbacks, cuts the effectiveness of this important nutrient. (As easy as taking three C capsules with every meal.)
Higher doses of vitamin C can be administered through intravenous drips under the supervision of a physician. Intravenous supplements have proven to be quite successful in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as hepatitis, AIDS, and cancer. Often 150,000 to 200,000 mg of vitamin C is dispensed intravenously, while the patient continues to consume quantities of oral supplements to bowel tolerance. (These high I.V. dosages of therapeutic vitamin C are gradually built up to-and then stepped down from - over the course of many weeks.)
It is a good idea to take vitamin C together with bioflavonoids because the latter enhance the vitamin's absorption and further aid immune function.
Another important antioxidant, vitamin E, should be supplemented in quantities of 400 to 800 units per day, while 100 mg of vitamin B complex should be consumed three times daily. It's been shown that vitamins E and B6 are required to maintain the immune response, and supplementation at higher than RDA levels may be necessary for optimal immune function.6 Beta carotene may also prove useful for raising immune competence.7
Zinc picolinate can substantially augment the body's supply of zinc when it's taken in quantities of 35-50 mg daily. The picolinate element of the supplement aids in transporting this vital element into the cell. Note, though, that excessive quantities of zinc are harmful; amounts over 100 mg have been found to have an adverse effect on the immune system.
Chromium supplements, in either the GTF form or the picolinate form, may be helpful in that they enable the body's supply of insulin to carry blood sugar into the cells. The mineral magnesium is also crucial to the production of energy, as it aids in the synthesis of ATP. Unfortunately the presence of a magnesium deficiency is difficult to ascertain, as standard blood tests fail to take into account actual mineral levels within the cells.
NADH, commonly known as coenzyme 1, is a relatively new therapy that has demonstrated an ability to alleviate chronic fatigue without harmful side effects. Coenzyme 1 is a natural substance that can be found in every cell within the human body; it's essential in the production of energy. Supplementing it on a daily basis can naturally augment the energy supply. The amino acid tyrosine also enhances the production of energy by aiding functioning of neurotransmitters. Tyrosine is not recommended, though, for those suffering from melanoma or schizophrenia.
Co-enzyme Q10 acts as an energy stimulant and can be effectively supplemented in quantities of 75 to 300 mg per day, while the amino acid glutamine can further increase energy.
New research shows striking improvement from evening primrose oil. The oil's active ingredient, gamma linoleic acid (GLA), has been shown to help patients overcome severe fatigue, muscle pain, depression, and confusion in six months' time.
If antibiotics have destroyed the balance of a patient's intestinal flora, lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus bulgaris, and bifido bacteria may be essential supplements.
Herbs As complements of a dietary and vitamin/mineral supplementation program, herbal therapies have proven helpful. Many of the plants that have been useful in treating illness and that are referred to as tonics, belong to the category of herbs known as adaptogens. That is, they work through a wide variety of actions to help create homeostasis. So, for example, if the blood pressure is too high, adaptogens help the body lower it; if it is too low, the body responds by raising it. Adaptogens help normalize the system regardless of the pathology.
Studies demonstrate that adaptogenic plants are especially good at stimulating the body's own natural immune functions. For example, they have been shown to increase CD4 counts, interferon production, macrophage activity, and natural killer cell action. Adaptogens are often combined for a more potent synergistic effect. An example is astragalus and legustrum; the combination is more effective than either plant used alone.8
Astragalus membranaceous root has a centuries-long history of use, in China. Today, we know that this herb is able to foster normal immune response in cancer and AIDS patients, to correct T-cell deficiency, and to promote antiviral action.9-11 Combined with legustrum, it is available in extract and capsule form. These two herbs can also be bought whole, then crushed, and then simmered in a small amount of water for several hours. The Chinese prepare herbs in this way and consume them daily.
Often used in conjunction with astragalus and legustrum is the ganoderma, or reishi mushroom. This is a general energy stimulant, as well as a cancer-fighter. Reishi mushroom has long been used in the Orient to help those recovering from chronic illness, especially general weakness.
Another valuable adaptogen originally used by the Chinese is ginseng. Siberian ginseng has been shown to protect the body against environmental pollution and radiation, regulate blood sugar levels, protect the liver, and improve adrenal function, among other benefits.8 Both the Siberian and panax varieties stabilize energy levels by heightening vitality during the day and promoting relaxation at night. Furthermore, ginseng strengthens the immune system by increasing the quantity and performance of disease-fighting cells. The recommended dosage of Siberian ginseng is 200-300 mg/day, while the suggested dosage of panax is slightly less. Ginseng can be consumed either as a tea or as an extract.
Basil is another adaptogen, one shown to increase physical endurance and body resistance. Considered a sacred plant in India, it has traditionally been used as an expectorant, diaphoretic, antiemetic, antiseptic, and analgesic. This tonic herb also has antiparasitic action.
Tulip poplar bark, which Western cultures have borrowed from traditional Native American medicine, is yet another energy stimulant.
Garlic is an immunosupportive substance useful in combating infectious organisms by aiding the body's natural killer cells. It's been proven effective against herpes and candida, and also has antitumor and antiparasitic properties,12 and has the advantages of being easy to absorb through the gastrointestinal system and being of low toxicity. When garlic is taken in tablet form, two capsules should be consumed with every meal.
Fresh oats (not to be confused with rolled or Quaker oats) are a nervous system rejuvenator used in the treatment of chronic fatigue. This herb is of particular value in lessening nicotine, caffeine, and recreational drug withdrawal symptoms.
Another recommended herb is licorice root, which aids in arousing adrenal energy and has powerful antiviral qualities. Licorice root, or glycyrrhizin, is effective against herpes and other viruses, including HIV,13 and is a good detoxifier.
A fungus commonly used by Asians, poria cocos, is used to purify the blood and can aid in increasing stamina. Usnea and lomacium have antiviral characteristics and have also demonstrated their ability to quell chronic fatigue.
Finally, stinging nettle and common burdock root have proven useful in fortifying the immune system. Burdock, a close relative of echinacea, dandelion and feverfew, has chemical constituents proven to be antibacterial, antifungal, and protective against tumors.14
Sample Program Specific protocols are of course tailored to the individual patient, with consideration given to the symptoms being manifested and the toxic factors to which the person was exposed. Following is an example of one program that has been successfully used under the supervision of a physician:
1. Discussion - Lifestyle changes:
* No smoking, drug use, caffeine, or alcohol
* Plant-food-centered diet
2. Intravenous therapy (infused 2-3 hours, 1-2 times weekly):
* Vitamin C-15-30 g
* B complex
* Glutathione or precursor N-Acetyl Cysteine
3. Intramuscular therapy (1x week):
* Gamma globulin
* Iron/B12 injection
* Magnesium sulfate
4. Oral nutrients:
- Multivitamin (B complex, A, beta carotene) 4x daily
- Buffered vitamin C 3x daily (10-15 g)
- Digestive enzymes 1-3x daily
- NAC (precursor to glutathione) 1500 mg daily
- Garlic capsules 3x daily
* Herbs: St. John's Wort (Hypericum) 5 drops 2x daily
- Astragalus/ legustrum.
Gary Null, Ph.D. 139-141 Franklin Street New York, New York 10013 USA 212-334-0167 Fax 212-334-0813, reprinted (and cut/edited) from article on Townsend Letter for Doctors Physicians at http://tldp.com/ the best holistic magazine anywhere.