Immune System

The immune system is the body’s way of defending itself against bacteria and other ‘foreign’ substances. The fundamental protective actions involve neutrophils, macrophages, killer cells, and T and B cells. The specific actions of these cells, and how glyconutrients can support their function is explained below.

Other terms we often hear are immunodeficient and autoimmune, but what do they mean?

Immune dysfunction can result in the immune system being either overactive or underactive. An underactive immune system shows itself in such conditions as cancer and AIDS. If the immune system seems to be doing nothing to fight viruses, bacteria, and cancers it is called immunodeficient. Whatever the dysfunction, whether overactive or underactive, glyconutrients have been shown to help, acting as immunomodulators. Immunomodulators down-regulate the overactive system and up-regulate the underactive system. In fact, the glyconutrients are not the primary immunomodulators – they cause the DNA and the cells themselves to immunomodulate.

On the other hand autoimmunity is the opposite of immunodeficiency and is evidenced in the body seemingly attacking itself as if it is confused as to how to respond. Autoimmune conditions can be either systemic or localised:

Systemic Autoimmune Diseases Localised Autoimmune diseases
Rheumatoid arthritis (joints, less commonly lung, skin) Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (pancreas islets)
Lupus [Systemic Lupus Erythematosus] (skin, joints, kidneys, heart, brain, red blood cells, other) Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves’ disease (thyroid)
Scleroderma (skin, intestine, less commonly lung) Coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis (gastro-intestinal tract)
Sjogren’s syndrome (salivary glands, tear glands, joints) Multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome (central nervous system)
Goodpasture’s syndrome (lungs, kidneys) Addison’s disease (adrenal)
Wegener’s granulomatosis (sinuses, lungs, kidneys) Primary biliary sclerosis, Sclerosing cholangitis, Autoimmune hepatitis (liver)
Polymyalgia Rheumatica (large muscle groups) Raynaud’s phenomenon (fingers, toes, nose, ears)
Temporal Arteritis / Giant Cell Arteritis (arteries of the head and neck)

There is still some debate whether MS, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia are autoimmune conditions.

In some cases, a person may have more than one autoimmune disease, for example, people with Addison’s disease often have type 1 diabetes, while people with sclerosing cholangitis often have either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.