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Can 'boosting' your immune system protect you?

Bizarre Claims

  • Antioxidant pills do kill bacteria and viruses but also damage healthy cells, leading to wearing out of the immune system and even cancer. No study so far has given compelling results in favor of antioxidants boosting the immune system or treating viral infections.
  • Stuff with live microorganisms like probiotics and kombucha is doing the rounds in the news with claims of curing the new virus, cancer, and AIDS. One study did show that probiotics reduce upper-respiratory-tract infections, but more evidence is needed.
  • Claims of masturbation improving our immunity or protecting us from the new virus are untrue.

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Can 'boosting' your immune system protect you?

Can 'boosting' your immune system protect you?

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200408-covid-19-can-boosting-your-immune-system-protect-you

bbc.com

6

Key Ideas

False Remedies

Much like a hundred years ago when Spanish Flu killed millions, questionable medicinal concoctions and folk remedies have surfaced across the world, claiming to boost the immune system.

Social media is super quick to spread nutritional advice, home remedies, and bizarre ideas. Some are straightforward like seeking out foods rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants, many pseudoscientists are peddling products like probiotics, cayenne pepper, and green tea as ways to protect us from the virus, which they cannot.

Immunity-Boosting Is A Myth

Pills, superfoods, and other wellness habits do not boost our immunity as the 'symptoms' which we get when infected are in fact measures taken by our immune system to respond to the foreign pathogen.

Many allergies that people have are a misguided response from the immune system that treat harmless foreign bodies as harmful pathogens.

The Symptomatic Treatment

While over-the-counter medicines provide us with a so-called ‘relief’ by suppressing our fever, runny nose and other ‘symptoms’, these are in fact necessary for the body to get well. The symptoms we want to be stopped are not our enemy:

  • The mucus is helping flush out the pathogen.
  • The fever(heat) makes the body impalpable for it to survive and replicate.
  • The body pain is actually the inflammatory chemicals in your veins, guiding the immune cells like an air traffic controller.
  • The brain is provided with a signal to slow down and let the body recover.

Vitamin Supplements

Common knowledge tells us that Vitamin C boosts our system's ability to fight the common cold, but extensive studies debunked this as well. 

Vitamins aren’t really beneficial for our bodies unless we are deficient in them. Only Vitamin D is beneficial to be taken as a supplement form if we are not able to get it from the sun due to some reason.

Bizarre Claims

  • Antioxidant pills do kill bacteria and viruses but also damage healthy cells, leading to wearing out of the immune system and even cancer. No study so far has given compelling results in favor of antioxidants boosting the immune system or treating viral infections.
  • Stuff with live microorganisms like probiotics and kombucha is doing the rounds in the news with claims of curing the new virus, cancer, and AIDS. One study did show that probiotics reduce upper-respiratory-tract infections, but more evidence is needed.
  • Claims of masturbation improving our immunity or protecting us from the new virus are untrue.

The Stuff That Does Work

Basic lifestyle adjustments to suit the ongoing pandemic: Social distancing, covering your face with a mask, and staying at home at all times, will work.

The time-tested approaches to improving our well being, like getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, not taking stress and eating a balanced diet will also work.

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Vitamin C

It’s a popular practice to take Vitamin C tablets or drink orange juice to boost immunity and ward off the common cold. However, Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, does not prevent or cure the common col...

Shorter Cold

Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling had some studies published which were claiming that large doses of Vitamin C can cure illnesses like cancer and heart disease, along with the flu, but so far the claims have been largely inaccurate, though a few studies reported a shorter duration of the illness in some people.

Vitamin C is Good For You

Vitamin C activates key enzymes in our bodies and acts as an antioxidant. It protects the organs (like lungs) from pathogens. This Vitamin is crucial for the body to launch an effective immune response. All the more reason to consume citrus fruits, and vegetables like the Indian Gooseberry.

Supplements don’t work as effectively and extremely large doses have side effects like nausea, diarrhea and stomach ache.

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Vitamins and free radicals

In the 90s, vitamins were touted as treatments for cardiovascular diseases, cataracts, and even cancer. Sales in multivitamins and other dietary supplements boomed.

But over...

Added antioxidants

In the 1970s and into the 80s, research was done where mice were given a variety of supplementary antioxidants in their diet or via an injection straight into the bloodstream.

The result showed that an excess of antioxidants didn't stop the onset of disease or extended lifespan.

Antioxidant supplementation

  • In 1994, one trial followed the lives of 29,133 Finish people in their 50s who all smoked. Some were given beta-carotene supplements. The group that supplemented with Beta-carotene had a 16% increase in lung cancer.
  • Another study shows a breast cancer increase of 20% for postmenopausal women who supplemented with folic acid.
  • One study with 100 heavy smokers had a 28% increase in lung cancer after just four years of beta-carotene and vitamin A supplementation.

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Smoking cannabis

Experts warn that smoking or vaping cannabis or anything else is not good for the lungs, regardless if it's during a pandemic or not.

Smoking specifically damages type 2 pneumocyte cells in ...

Effects on the immune system

There are over 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Most interact with the immune system, but research on the effects of cannabinoids on the immune system is contradictory.

While some of these compounds do appear to have anti-inflammatory properties in preclinical studies, it has not been proven to be effective against the new virus or other viral infections.

Your options

Edibles, like gummies, candies, mints, cookies, and even some drinks are excellent choices that won't affect the lugs.

With ingestion methods, start low and see how it affects you. Wait two hours before taking more. Go slow if you are new to it.

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