4 Immune-Boosters That Make You Germ-Proof
Cold and flu season has officially arrived. And if you’re smart, you’ve probably already started preventative measures to keep a nasty virus from taking hold.
Vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, garlic and Echinacea are all effective ways to stay one step ahead of the latest viral strain (and don’t forget these foods that keep you from a cough, cold, runny nose and more).
But, when it comes to helping your immune system in its most taxing months, sometimes it’s good to think outside of the box.
Keep taking your immune-boosting vitamins, herbs and supplements, of course. But this season, consider combining them with bodywork — alternative therapies that involve touching or manipulating the body.
They can do wonders for your immune system… plus they feel good too.
Massage is the most popular type of bodywork to turn to when you want an immune boost. It’s also the most well-researched. Over the years, scientific studies have shown that massage enhances the immune function of people with serious diseases like HIV and chest cancer, as well as healthy people too. Massage is good for your immune system because it improves circulation and lymphatic drainage and reduces stress. These things combined keep you from becoming a germ magnet.
Osteopathic manipulation has been around a long time. It was started in the late 1800s by a doctor named Taylor Still who believed that the muskoskeletal system held the key to health and disease. He believed that by fixing problems in your body’s structure, he could help the body restore itself to health. It’s a different thought process than we’re used to hearing from doctors nowadays, but there’s something to it. A recent study found that osteopathic therapy helped older adults with pneumonia recover more quickly and made them less likely to die from the illness. It’s also been shown to improve immune function in animals and boost the immune marker immunoglobulin A (IgA) in humans. If you go see a Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) for an osteopathic manipulation he or she will use stretching, gentle pressure and resistance to move your muscles and joints.
Myofascial release was created in the 1980s by physical therapist John Barnes and is based on the teachings of osteopathic medicine developed by Taylor Still. In myofascial release, a bodywork practitioner (usually a massage therapist or physical therapist) applies gentle pressure to your connective tissue (known as fascia) to open up any restrictions and restore proper flow throughout your body. A 2012 study found that myofascial release improved immune function in chest cancer survivors.
Chiropractic Care is similar to osteopathic manipulation in its focus on the muskoskeletal system. But chiropractic care hones in on one specific body part— the spine. Through spinal manipulation, chiropractors are able to ease back and neck pain. But this type of manipulation also gives your immune system a hand by boosting the number of natural killer T cells in your body. These cells have an important job—they get rid of any cells in your body that have been infected by viruses. They also eradicate tumors. So having more of these guys around is a win-win.