IMMUNE SYSTEM ENHANCEMENT
"Health is more than the absence of disease," said Russell M. Jaffe, MD, PhD, when he gave a day-long professional seminar, "Clinical Management of the Immune System," followed by an evening presentation, "Facts, Fads, and Nutritional Fallacies," for NOHA on April 22. "We always have more to learn if we remain open and do not get overwhelmed by the pressure of helping those in need."
With regard to the causes of chronic disease, Jaffe emphasized the concept of "the hospitable host," the person whose immune system has been compromised. The good news is that there is no evidence on the molecular level that the immune system declines with age; however, we usually have problems with an accumulating load of toxic substances and nutrient deficiencies. Also, Jaffe contrasted biological and chronological age and pointed out that with increasing age, there is more individual variation in terms of function. He mentioned an active 102-year-old man who, when tested in his 90s, had a performance level approximately that of a 30-year-old. This man was very ill at an early age and changed his lifestyle: "he practiced the abuse of life for 35 years and the use of life for 65 years."
For a properly functioning immune system, according to Jaffe, two important balances need to be maintained in our bodies. First, acid-base chemistry. For health, we need a balance, with small circadian oscillations, between too much acid (acidosis) and too much alkali (alkalosis) in our veins. Metabolic acidosis is usually caused by immunologic reactions, which can be induced by foods and chemicals. These reactions result in organic acids that need buffering in order to be safely eliminated. This buffering, however, decreases mineral reserves, which, when gone, leave us with the acidosis, which can cause pain and damage tissues. [For many years, NOHA Professional Advisory Board member Theron G. Randolph, MD, has prescribed alkali salts for the acute phase of an allergic reaction in order to reduce the acidosis and thus the pain and damage.]
The second important balance that we need to maintain in our bodies concerns oxidation-reduction (redox). Oxidation is needed throughout our bodies for energy production. However, it must be controlled. Ascorbate (from vitamin C) is needed in all our cells for this control. An ascorbate test of urine, which can be monitored by a person at home, has a reasonably good correlation with the cell levels.
At times of distress, with both systems out of balance, we have a high use for and need of ascorbate and a high disposition for acidosis. An abundance of cortisol, the major natural hormone produced by the adrenal cortex, is an indication of this imbalance. A number of lifestyle changes can help. With biofeedback, we can learn internal relaxation. We can change a diet with many acid metabolites to a more balanced one with alkaline metabolites. (Interestingly, the acid in citrus fruit is completely metabolized by our bodies so that citrus fruit contributes to an alkaline balance.) However, Jaffe emphasized that 90 percent of metabolic acidosis caused by immumologic reactions and distress, so it is imperative to learn what one’s body is reacting to and to reduce one’s load of whatever substances they might be. In recent years, Jaffe has developed the first method of measuring cell-mediated immunity. Our immune systems also consist of antibody-mediated immunity – the antibodies being a vast number of immunoglobulins developed from blood plasma cells ("B-cells"). Of the principal kinds, immunoglobulin E (IgE) produces the familiar immediate allergic reactions, such as runny nose, coughing, wheezing, or itching. Allergists regularly test for these immediate IgE-mediated reactions – so-called "Type 1" immune responses. Reactions involving the other categories of immunoglobulins, such as IgA, IgG, and IgM, are called "Type 2" responses, and are delayed.
Antibodies ordinarily protect us. However, in autoimmune diseases our antibodies are attacking our own cells. Jaffe theorizes,
Immunoglobulins (antibodies) can join with an antigen and inactivate it, preparing it for destruction by macrophages, which are part of our cell-mediated immune system. "Type 3" reactions occur when immune complexes (antigen plus antibodies) accumulate beyond our body’s capacity to deal with them. "Type 4" responses – cell-mediated immunity include (1) the macrophages that can eat antigens and can kill and consume immune complexes and (2) various kinds of T-lymphocites ("T" for thymus, from which they originate).
Jaffe has developed a single test, ELISA/ACT (Enzyme-Linked Immuno-Sorbent Assay/Activated Cell Test), for Type 2, Type 3, and Type 4 kinds of reactions. He anticipates that soon it will be expanded to include reactions to natural gas, pollens, danders, dust, mites, and many kinds of mold. At that time the one test would also include Type 1 reactions and thus all kinds of immediate and delayed immune responses. From a single blood sample, ELISA/ACT now tests the live cell reactions to 235 different foods and chemicals, including the three most commonly used classes of pesticides. Once one learns which antigens one’s body is reacting to, one can learn how to avoid them: "The immune system is a high amplification environment. Once [one is] sensitized, tiny amounts of a compound can incite an amplified response. . . . In order for the immune system to loose its reactivity to a given antigen, it must have no direct exposure to that substance for an extended period of time," generally six months or longer, according to Jaffe.
Immune function is the primary control system for the health of our bodies. Available laboratory tests include:
The more complete the avoidance of foods and chemicals implicated by the ELISA/ACT procedure, the more quickly the immune system can recover. Jaffe also recommends certain supplements during the recovery period, including buffered vitamin C, "to bowel tolerance." Also, evening primrose oil (gamma linolenic acid, GLA) can be balanced with omega-3 fish oil (eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA) to change a metabolic pathway and reduce inflammation.
The body does have an ongoing healing response. The patient’s physician needs to build up enough trust for the patient to follow through with recommendations. In addition to the reduction of exposure to individually deleterious foods and chemicals and the stimulation of the immune system by appropriate dietary changes, Jaffe recommends reading Active Meditation, by Robert Leichtman; exercise; low-temperature saunas; therapeutic biofeedback; photobiology; videofeedback (a person may look "depressed" of be hunched over without realizing it); peer counseling with a buddy system for immediate response and then group counseling; purpose and goal clarification: from one’s disease one should derive the full measure of learning.
Stay away from processed foods, not only because they make avoidance of certain widely used, commonly reactive foods virtually impossible, but also because of their additives and manufacturing processes. For instance, many processed foods contain "partially hydrogenated oils." These contain "trans" fatty acids. Quoting from Dr. Jaffe’s Information Handbook,2
Using five years of ELISA/ACT test data on immune system reactions of over 8,000 patients to the three classes of pesticides (carbamates, organophosphates,3 and halogenated pesticides) that account for over 90 percent of all pesticide use, Jaffe has estimated the number of Americans reacting to pesticides. The estimates are derived by weighting the subsamples of his patients having particular characteristics in the U.S. population:
Overall conclusions are familiar to NOHA members: eat moderate amounts of whole, unprocessed foods, uncontaminated with pesticides; chew the food thoroughly to enhance digestion; exercise with deep breathing; discover congenital goals and pursue them with friends. And, as with NOHA Professional Advisory Board member Dr. Thomas Stone’s admonition, be very careful about what you put in your body, on your body, and near your body.
1Mastering Food Allergies, No. 44, interview by NOHA former president Marjorie Hurt Jones, RN, with Russell M. Jaffe, MD, PhD, 5(4); 3-6, April, 1990.
2Health Studies Collegium, Information Handbook for use with your Immune Enhancement Program, Eleventh Edition, Activity Appendix 11: 73, 1990.
3See Manifestations of Organophosphate Insecticide Poisoning diagram.
Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XV, No. 3, Summer 1990, pages 1-3.