Author: Dr Faeeza Abdullatief (Unani Tibb Practitioner)
Over the past 2 years our daily lives have somewhat shifted dramatically to a new norm of wearing masks, sanitising at every public place and social distancing given the time and current state of the world. "Prevention is better than cure" as the saying goes, so let's look at some simple ways to keep us healthy and support our immunity.
Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. Go for walks in the outdoors when weather permits, eat fresh fruit and vegetables often and stay away from processed foods as well as food with high saturated fats and sugar which can suppress immunity (1). Vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections (2). Food high in antioxidants and vitamin C include berries, guava and citrus.
Manage your stress levels. Psychological stress has a significant impact on our body's vitality and immune system which can increase your susceptibility to infections (3). Speak to a professional and take up a hobby perhaps like gardening, sewing or something that you find brings you joy. You can also try alternative treatments to help with managing stress like meditation and breathing exercises, massage and cupping therapy. There are herbs that would also help control symptoms of stress (4). Speak to a practitioner about which of these treatments are suitable for you.
Manage existing illnesses. If you are a diabetic or suffer from immune deficiency disorders or asthma you are likely more susceptible to succumbing to acute illnesses like cold and flu (5). Speak to a practitioner about how you can get your health under control and more stable to improve your body's natural defence mechanisms.
Find a balance with microbes. Microbes are a normal and essential part of our everyday lives. With the excessive use of alcohol based sanitisers there is also now an increase in skin conditions like Eczema and fungal infections. Where it is possible to wash your hands with soap and water, opt for that instead of alcohol based sanitiser.
Remember your gut has a natural balance of microbes and this is also disturbed with excessive intake of sugar and other processed foods as well as with use of antibiotic treatment (6). Restore your gut flora with intake of prebiotic and probiotic foods.
Consult with a practitioner about supplements and herbal medication that can assist with regulating immune function (7)
Cupping therapy has been used since c. 400 BC by the Egyptians, Greeks and widely practiced in Unani Tibb. It has immune modulating effects particularly on the innate (NK %) and adaptive cellular (SIL-2R conc.) immune responses (8).
Yu S, Zhang G, Jin LH. A high-sugar diet affects cellular and humoral immune responses in Drosophila. Exp Cell Res. 2018 Jul 15;368(2):215-224. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2018.04.032. Epub 2018 May 1. PMID: 29727694.
Carr, A. C., & Maggini, S. (2017). Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients, 9(11), 1211. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9111211
Pedersen, Anette PhD; Zachariae, Robert DMSci; Bovbjerg, Dana H. PhD Influence of Psychological Stress on Upper Respiratory Infection—A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies, Psychosomatic Medicine: October 2010 - Volume 72 - Issue 8 - p 823-832 doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181f1d003
Mohamad H. Shahrajabian,Wenli Sun,Ali Soleymani,Qi Cheng. Traditional herbal medicines to overcome stress, anxiety and improve mental health in outbreaks of human coronaviruses (2020). Phytotherapy research Volume35, Issue3 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/10991573/2021/35/3 https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.6888
Berbudi, A., Rahmadika, N., Tjahjadi, A. I., & Ruslami, R. (2020). Type 2 Diabetes and its Impact on the Immune System. Current diabetes reviews, 16(5), 442–449. https://doi.org/10.2174/1573399815666191024085838
Lazar Veronica, Ditu Lia-Mara, Pircalabioru Gratiela Gradisteanu, Gheorghe Irina, Curutiu Carmen, Holban Alina Maria, Picu Ariana, Petcu Laura, Chifiriuc Mariana Carmen (2018). Aspects of Gut Microbiota and Immune System Interactions in Infectious Diseases, Immunopathology, and Cancer . Frontiers in Immunology, Vol 9 p1830. https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fimmu.2018.01830 DOI=10.3389/fimmu.2018.01830. ISSN=1664-3224
Mora, J. R., Iwata, M., & von Andrian, U. H. (2008). Vitamin effects on the immune system: vitamins A and D take centre stage. Nature reviews. Immunology, 8(9), 685–698. https://doi.org/10.1038/nri2378
Ahmed, S.M., Madbouly, N.H., Maklad, S.S., & Abu-Shady, E.A. (2005). Immunomodulatory effects of blood letting cupping therapy in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The Egyptian journal of immunology, 12 2, 39-51 .
The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. Please consult a qualified practitioner if you suffer from any of the conditions mentioned.
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