Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Boosting the Immune System
Name: Hehs
Status: Educator
Grade:  9-12
Location: IL
Country: United States
Date: July 2008


Question:
As a biology teacher at Hoffman Estates High School I asked my junior and senior students to fashion a question for the Ask A Scientist board. We are presently studying the immune system and my students want to know if there is any artificial or natural way in which to boost their immune systems? Can you help us with this concept?



Replies:
Antioxidants like vitamin C & E would offer protection. Vitamin A strengthens mucus membranes to thwart invaders and enhance total resistance (not necessarily immunity). Being generally physically fit is a huge factor, but studies with professional athletes suggest a faster spread of viruses and other agents through their system. Ginseng, mineral springs (hormesis - low ionizing radiation stimulation), and other agents have not been proven beneficial scientifically. In general, if you minimize damage via UV and other radiation to the immune system, minimize the aging process, you will maximize your immune response. Since Louis Pasteur, we should not forget targeting specific immunity via vaccines. Also, bone marrow transplants will help those that are immunodeficient. It is hoped that biotechnology will produce antibodies and other agents to order, that will be the magic bullets against any immunoinvader.

Lou Harnisch


I was looking at the response to boosting one's immune system and I wonder if you would consider a couple of other options. The first is that there are some new biotechnology medicines coming out on market which are called Colony Stimulating Factors. These compounds will cause the bone marrow to produce more of certain kinds of white cells. White Blood Cells of course are the specific component of blood which fights infection. The second is perhaps irrelevant. When one takes antibiotics one is in effect boosting one's immune system, this applies whether the antibiotic is prophylactic or if the med is for an existing infection. Remember, an antibiotic cannot eliminate and infection without the aid of the bodies own immune system.

Vanhoeck



Click here to return to the Molecular Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory