By Dr. Melissa Sonners
Getting sick is an important part of being healthy. Our bodies are incredible self-healing, self-regulating organisms when given the proper environment with limited exposures to chemical, physical and balanced emotional stressors.
There are many miraculous processes in our bodies that kick into gear when we get sick, that help us stay healthy. Primary among them: Fevers and glutathione. My hope in writing this is that it empowers you to trust in these and perhaps step back and let the body “do its thing” the next time a fever presents itself.
Fevers are often the solution, not the problem.
From an article in Medical News Today: “Fevers are more than just a symptom of illness or infection,” claim researchers. They found that elevated body temperature sets in motion a series of mechanisms that regulate our immune system and go on to state that “an elevated body temperature triggers cellular mechanisms that ensure the immune system takes appropriate action against the offending virus or bacteria.”
In our home, we have noticed that a fever often means we are going to have a more intense, but quicker period of illness, whereas a cold may linger for days or weeks at a time. To us, fevers mean rest, fluids, movies, snuggles and books. We watch our kids and ensure they are hydrated and resting, but are not quick to give fever reducers just for the sake of “making them comfortable.” We find they do just fine under our watchful eyes without the need of outside interference.
According to an article in the Journal of Thoracic Disease, “treatment of fever is common in the ICU setting and likely related to standard dogma rather than evidence-based practice.”
Although much is still unknown and science is always evolving, in our family we tend to give the body space to heal itself. We also know that giving fever reducers inhibits one of our bodies main regulating antioxidants—glutathione. Glutathione, an antioxidant in plants, animals, fungi, and some bacteria and archaea, has crucial anti-inflammatory and immune regulating properties and, according to Wikipedia, is capable of preventing damage to important cellular components caused by reactive oxygen species such as free radicals, peroxides, lipid peroxides, and heavy metals.
Glutathione Fights Inflammation.
High levels of inflammation are present in virtually every chronic illness including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. However, inflammation in short bursts is also healthy and necessary to fight infectious invaders.
Injury can also incite an inflammatory response. Whether you are talking about trauma, infection, toxins, or allergies, your immune system answers the same way. First, the blood vessels in the injured area begin to expand and open wide to allow your body’s natural healing compounds to reach the injured site as quickly as possible. Because of this increased blood flow, fluid and immune cells flood the area often in overwhelming amounts.
This increase in permeability of the blood and lymph vessels is what causes the physical manifestations of acute inflammation, namely redness, pain, stiffness, and swelling. After the infection or injury is repaired, the acute inflammatory response normally subsides and goes away.
In an ideal world, the inflammatory response comes to your rescue when it’s needed and cools itself off once the healing is complete.
But we don’t live in an ideal world.
In the real world, environmental toxins, your diet, stress, and other lifestyle issues have disabled the checks and balances of this system and inflammation doesn’t subside and go away as it is meant to. As a result, many people suffer from chronic, systemic inflammation.
When this happens, you’re in trouble. You’ll need a lot of extra protection and that’s where glutathione can help.
Glutathione (GSH) controls needed inflammation increases or decreases, by instructing and influencing our immune white cells. This is a completely separate mechanism from glutathione’s antioxidant properties.
Rebalancing glutathione levels reduces chronic inflammation and restores immune function.
Glutathione and the Immune System
Glutathione helps your immune system stay strong and ready to fight infections. While vitamin C seems to get all the accolades when it comes to immunity, glutathione is the under-recognized supporting actor who deserves the starring role.
Research shows that active glutathione (GSH) primes white cells such as natural killer (NK) and t-cells, your body’s front-line infection fighters. GSH-enhanced t-cells are able to produce more infection-fighting substances, controlling both bacterial and viral infections.
One clinical trial in particular found that GSH doubled NK cells’ ability to be cytotoxic (kill invaders) after just six months of use. Glutathione actually has a potent antibacterial effect as it helps the immune cells called macrophages fight the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (mycobacterium tuberculosis).
In another study, researchers found that GSH modulates the behavior of many immune system cells, affecting adaptive immunity and protecting against microbial, viral and parasitic infections.
There are many chronic infections such as EBV, hepatitis, herpes viruses and Lyme, to name a few, which can deregulate and suppress the immune system. Glutathione can modulate and reverse this suppression. Autoimmune diseases also appear to be hallmarked by imbalanced glutathione levels. There are just so many ways in which glutathione levels can support our overall health.
Unfortunately, commonly-used acetaminophen (Tylenol) actually inhibits glutathione, as do many other external factors from artificial sweeteners like aspartame to alcohol and household chemicals.
If fever and glutathione both play an important role in our immune regulation, would giving fever reducers negate that system? Quite possibly so. Letting the fever run and permitting glutathione to do what it does may just be what we all need to effectively fight off viruses and bacterium.
When dealing with a virus that presents a fever or when post-vaccination, it is important to let our glutathione levels remain high for the sake of inflammation, immune regulation and detoxification. Oral levels of glutathione can be taken and levels should be determined by your alternative health practitioner. For further questions or comments feel free to email me at DrMelissa@CoreTherapies.net.