The Immune System in Herpes Infections
R.H. Keller M.D., FACP, AAHIVs
Human Immune System
The human immune system is an elegant, extremely complex molecularly intricate system but can be viewed simply as the main component of the body's defense system which includes the cells, the electrochemical circuits of the brain, the endocrine glands and the immune system. Although these have been named and investigated as if each was independent, each of the components is integrally and intricately intertwined. In fact, viewed from a molecular level, each is part of a singular control system. If this sounds unbelievable, just think about getting a cold, where the immune system creates fever, aches, and increased sleep; the brain causes sadness and/or depression and the endocrine glands cause a decreased appetite and increased fatigue and sleep. There are, of course, many other symptoms associated with each part of the control circuit, but they are all initiated by the intrusion of a foreign invader, the cold virus (which includes rhinoviruses and adenoviruses, one of which has now been implicated in obesity in animals), into the body and its recognition of something that is foreign.
One might ask, why are some people prone to infections with viruses and other foreign invaders? The answers are both legion and complex but can be simplified by the oft quoted phrase, "nature and nurture". In fact, the groundwork for protection from susceptibility to invasion resides in your genes. The immune response genes provide an obstacle against invasion but each obstacle is defective and will allow some invaders to breach the barrier untouched. Were that not enough, a major aspect of our defenses against invasion resides in our lifestyle choices. Adequate sleep, exercise, enjoying life, eating well, and not "sweating the small stuff" empower the defense. The converse including inadequate sleep, a sedentary lifestyle, overeating, troubled relationships and family life, including loss and any form of stress, as well as recreational drugs including alcohol, among others, weaken your defense circuit(s).
Consider your defense circuits as a scale:
All aspects of life that empower the circuits (+) increase the obstacles to invasion.
All aspects or choices which weaken the circuits (-) decrease the obstacles to invasion.
Herpes as the Invader
There are two things to consider when discussing all Herpes Viruses which include HSV1 (cold sores) and HSV2 (genital), although 20% of mouth sores are HSV2 and an equal percentage of genital lesions are HSV1, Chickenpox, Epstein-Barr Virus, HHV6, called Roseola (the initial infection) and HHV8 which causes Kaposi's Sarcomas, a form of skin cancer, among others. The first is that human defense circuits cannot eradicate the herpes virus due to a defect in human response genes. SO, ONCE IS FOREVER! The second relates to lifestyle such that strengthening the circuit(s) protects against, while weakening the circuit(s) promotes invasion. With Herpes Simplex 1 and 2, the elements that promote rather than protect against invasion also are the cornerstones of recurrences. At first, this may appear as a black cloud, but there is a silver lining. YOU can do many things to protect yourself even if you, as most, were caught unaware by this unwelcome invader. These include living a healthy lifestyle, having your physician check your hormone balance including thyroid function with Triodothionine (T3), DHEA, testosterone, and estrogen levels in both women and men. WHAT! Yes, testosterone in all of us empowers while estrogen weakens the defense circuit(s). There are different levels in male and female, which are age dependent, but with similar functions regardless of sex! These are but simple guidelines and further information can be found on the website.
Well, if you have done all of the above but still want to tip the scale further, congratulations! There is more that everyone can do. We live in a stressful polluted environment and must counteract these potential enemy (virus) collaborators; this can be achieved by various supplements. Below, I will list a few of the more important supplements which empower the defense circuit(s).
A wealth of information is found within this website. Reference is made to increasing the amino acid, Lysine, and limiting, but not eliminating, Arginine. These are both amino acids, which function as building blocks for cells and empower the defense circuits, in a balanced hormonal environment but, WAIT, THERE'S MORE!!
Vitamins, Antioxidants, and Minerals
- Increasing glutathione, the most prevalent antioxidant in human, empowers all the defense circuit(s)
- Replacing the sleeping hormone, melatonin, which is used up by age thirty-five and faster if you are stressed
- Adding 5 HTP (5 hydroxytryptophane) as the two combined will not only promote restful sleep, but increase levels of serotonin and prevent depression
- A quality multivitamin, multi mineral, antioxidant, which is in conformity with the IOM (Institute of Medicine) not the RDA (recommended daily allowance) standards to replace all the things we do not get from over processed or fast food
- A quality probiotic, to replace the normal bacteria in the intestines where 30% of the entire immune system resides, to prevent the overgrowth of yeast, promote proper absorption of food and supplements, and limit yeast production- especially when taking antibiotics from your physician and/or food market
- A quality source of calcium and magnesium (2:1) containing vitamin D3, boron and vitamin K to strengthen your bones AND your defense circuit(s)
- If you are allergic, and 15%-20% of us are, avoid the problems and seek treatment, as allergies cripple your defense circuit.