Why nourishing your nervous system is so important for autoimmune recovery
Most chronic illnesses, including autoimmune conditions such as Alopecia Areata, are related to a malfunction somewhere in our extremely complex network of immune system and the vital body systems around it. I recently came across a number of studies that point to a direct link between our nervous system and our immune response, including the mechanism on which our immune system turns against itself, as is the case with autoimmunity and allergies.
I’m also going to share how we support my daughter in nourishing the health of the nervous system as part of the entire big puzzle of her alopecia recovery journey.
The brain is interlinked with the immune system
For a long time, scientists thought of the brain and the central nervous system as being separate from our immune system. This is partly due to a blood-brain barrier that enables the brain to keep away from unwanted invaders like virus and bacteria and viruses, as well as a lack of lymphatic drainage in the brain.
However, there have been discoveries in recent decades that are increasingly shifting this thought.
University of Virginia neuroscience professor Dr. Jonathan Kipnis and his team identified a previously undetected network of lymphatic vessels in the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The team found that T-cells were also present in these vessels, confirming that the brain does in fact have a lymphatic system linking it directly the peripheral immune system.
This new discovery led Dr. Kipnis to think that alteration in these vessels may affect disease progression in neurological disorders that are hugely related to the immune component, such as multiple sclerosis, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease.
University of Pennsylvania neurology professor Dr. Josep Dalmau agrees that these new findings could also help to explain autoimmune disorders that affect the brain.
It is clear from these findings that the brain and body are closely related, and that the brain is not separate from the immunological function as once thought to be.
How the nervous system affects our immune function
Scientists have shown that a chemical signal which allows nerve cells to communicate with each other can also re-direct actions of the immune system.
Cytokines and their receptors, for example, are molecules that mediate communication between cells. These molecules are made by the immune cells to affect the development and function of other cells. But these molecules are also produced by cells of the nervous system, which indicate that the brain also plays an immuno-regulatory role on the immune system.
In other words, there are complex bidirectional interactions between the central nervous system and the immune system, in which the central nervous system may influence the activity and response of our immune system, and likewise, the immune system may interfere with brain function.
Nervous system and autoimmune diseases
Autoimmune occurs when our immune system is out of balance, causing it to think of our own body as the enemy and launch its defense attack by mistake. You can look at the immune function as consisting of two major parts, 1) defense against things like infection and cancer, and 2) recognising what and when to launch the defense attack ‘correctly’.
In the nervous system, VIP (Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide) is a neuropeptide signal that stimulates nerve cell communication and survival, and regulates neural biological clocks. Scientists found that VIP also affects the migration of immune system’s T cells and T cell secretion of protein signals for other immune cells. Both of these are at the core of our body’s normal defense against infection.
VIP also affects the process in which the immune system turns against the body, through its action on T cells.
Researchers showed that the strength of the VIP signal received by the T cells would regulate the balance between two types of immune T cells, Th1 and Th3. This balance is CRUCIAL, as Th1 in excess can lead to autoimmune disorders while Th3 protects our body from infections and autoimmunity, but in excess can lead to allergies.
The researchers also discovered the effect of VIP on the balance of Th1/Th3 balance by looking into the relative production of cytokines.
Edward Goetzl, MD, Professor of Medicine and Immunology at the University of California, San Francisco, said that the research in mice which confirms mounting evidence that the nervous system directly influences the immune system, would provide a “first clue of a pharmacological approach to using the nervous system for improving immune defenses and damping harmful immune responses at their roots” in a wide range of immune-related diseases, such as arthritis and asthma.
The research did not determine if neuropeptide VIP impact alone is sufficient to change the course of infections, inflammation, or autoimmune disease in which T cells are involved, however. Researchers do warn that VIP has very broad effects on the immune function that if we use drugs to merely block and suppress its action may trigger other issues.
These findings confirm that vital body systems, such as the nervous system, are closely interlinked with the function and response of our immune system. The health and balance of our immune system depend on all bodily systems working in harmony.
Researchers and scientists also duly warn that drugs that ‘suppress’ any part of the immune function may improve the symptoms of one issue but trigger a host of other issues.
If drugs are not the solution, what can we do then?
How to nourish the health of our nervous system
While scientists may work on developing drugs that would replicate how things work inside our system as closely as they can, there are always shortcomings with how medicine works, simply because our immune function is so complex that drugs cannot, to this day, do a very good job in changing its course without introducing a host of other issues on other areas of our body, something more commonly known as ‘side effects’.
It wouldn’t make much sense to try and patch a hole while creating numerous others down the road.
A much better way is to nourish the health of our own body systems so that we restore its function over time without introducing other damages.
We do this by using a number of nutrition support products that contain rare and unique plant ingredients targeted for specific areas of our systems. These are plant foods that are hard to come by in our daily groceries, and these products make it really convenient to consume them every day in the amount and combination that have been carefully formulated and tested to have an effect. The company runs thousands of tests to ensure the ultimate safety and quality of every batch of ingredients and final products, so I feel confident in giving these to Little Claire.
They are all merely foods, NOT supplements or herbal medicine, which means that there are no side effects and they are safe for everyone who can take foods.
Wholesome foods that nourish the health of the nervous system
In addition to the nervous system, the immune system may also react to physical or emotional stress by initiating an inflammatory reaction. Regular exposure to such stress puts our body on repeated inflammatory reactions, which can negatively affect the health of other areas of our body, all the way from blood sugar and cholesterol metabolism, heart health, skin appearance, memory, to fat cell production.
The science of Nutritional Immunology, pioneered by immunologist and microbiologist Dr. Jau-Fei Chen, advocates supporting our immune system with a healthy, whole-foods diet.
S•T® is formulated with whole food ingredients and Nutritional Immunology principles to support the immune system and help protect the body from the long-term damaging effects of stress on the nervous system.
The ingredients in S.T are:
1. Chinese privet
2. Knotweed leaf and seed
3. Pearl powder
4. Chinese dodder seed
5. Chrysanthemum flower
6. Panax (Ji-Lin) ginseng root
7. Cassia bark
To buy S.T using my referral link, click here or the image above (US & Canada only).
S•T works to benefit our body both immediately and cumulatively over time.
Pearl powder is a source of calming B-vitamins, amino acids and calcium and has traditionally been used for its calming properties as well as skin and hair health. Ji-Lin ginseng works as an adaptogen to help the body adjust to stress. Other herbs in the formula nourish the kidneys and cardiovascular system.
This unique formulation delivers beneficial polysaccharides, antioxidants and phytochemicals straight from whole plant foods— NOT isolated vitamins and minerals. They contain only premium quality, whole food ingredients, grown and harvested in conditions that yield the highest levels of immune-supporting compounds. Then, the ingredients are prepared with only water, and no harsh chemicals. Freeze-drying is used to help preserve the energy stored as plant enzymes in these ingredients.
SC | Winning Alopecia
All information on this website is meant for informational purposes only. It contains my own personal opinions and interpretation of acquired information. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products and information on this website are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Readers are advised to do their own research and make decisions in partnership with their health care provider. If you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition or are taking any medication, please consult your physician.