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For more than 100 years we have become accustomed to viewing the immune system merely as a defense mechanism. This description, however, does not explain the many immune issues we face today. On the contrary, this mindset almost dismisses the avenues to new therapeutic approaches.
The activity state of the immune system, be it low or high, is involved in a diverse array of bodily conditions such as pain, appetite, sleep, fatigue, motivation, fever, inflammations, healing, metabolism, allergies, asthma, multiple sclerosis, chronic inflammatory bowel diseases and many more. All of these symptoms and diagnoses cannot be clearly understood if we use the analogy of a defense system for the immune system. This model is only effective in explaining how the immune system reacts to infections. But the immune system is far more than a defensive device that is only taking action when encountering a bug. Immunity is an activity state of our body—a physiological phenomenon tightly connected with our well-being. Imbalanced immunity can result in feelings of discomfort in many ways.
After birth, we pass through several critical phases that are important for the development of immunity and the body’s biological response to stress. (Although much of the body’s immunity and stress response is already set while still inside our mother’s womb.) The first massive trauma we are exposed to is birth, which includes swallowing huge amounts of bacteria. From that first moment in the world we are entangled with our environment. From that point, it’s all about getting into a balanced communication process with our environment. This is a very challenging task for the body (including the brain). This topic can fill the pages of a book and I only want to give you a brief idea from my perspective of why immunity has become such an enormous issue.
Immune development starts before birth
The mother’s immune system greatly affects the fetus. The stress factors the mother is exposed to during her pregnancy also affect development. The consequences of these influences may become apparent immediately after birth or later in life. Genetic disposition plays a role, but it may be less important than we thought until now. We have a lot more control over our lives than we think and parents have less influence on the development than many think.
The first months of life are critical
Encountering the diverse universe of molecules of our environment very early in life seems to be essential, when the organs and organ systems are still highly adaptive. The body has to learn the communication strategies that keep it well—one may call early exposure a training process. Many studies prove that avoidance of certain allergens makes things worse, be it the cat in the house or the dust mite in the pillow.
Microbes in our bodies are essential
We need bugs to be well. Immune balance needs them. Our flora contributes to the equilibrium along all the epithelial linings of the body. Very recent studies show that not only bacteria but also viruses make up the physiological environment of the gut. Breast milk contains bacteria and thus contributes to the emergence of a proper microbial environment in the whole gastrointestinal tract.
Avoidance isn’t the key
Hygiene is overrated. Antibiotics are used far too early and too often. They have both a negative impact on our immunity state and our ability to tolerate stress.
Proper self-regulation and stress management make the difference
Immunity and stress response control the inflammatory conditions in our body. If the two are not functioning well, the body is vulnerable to the various chronic illnesses suffered by many without a cure.
For example the wide-spread phenomenon of allergies is not caused by pollen, cat’s hair or the house dust mite. It is the deregulated immune system that is not able to cope with the substances we by mistake identified as the causes. They trigger the allergy.
Autoimmunity is part of the same cycle
Similar thinking applies to the condition of autoimmunity, which is a physiological phenomenon. Autoimmunity per se doesn’t make you sick, it only turns against you when deregulated. Under healthy conditions, autoimmunity maintains the balance on the inside of the body and immunity does it on the outside. If autoimmunity is disturbed then we call the illnesses autoimmune diseases (e.g. Multiple sclerosis, chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, rheumatic diseases, the list is endless).
Be aware that the stress response is always involved in creating and maintaining the homeostasis (equilibrium) in our body. They are a not to be separated pair.
If this regulatory network of immunity, autoimmunity and stress response is deregulated, you may just feel uncomfortable and uneasy, or distressed, depressed, depleted and fearful. Or you may suffer from the symptoms of irritable bowl syndrome, burnout syndrome, chronic fatigue, or overtraining. Colostrum, also called beestings, is a nutritional supplement that can strengthen, appease and push the immunity depending on its basic activity state. Beestings helps balancing the autonomous nervous system. In allergies, for example, it helps to limit inflammation. In the acute situation of an illness beestings applies its inflammation modulating properties. Chronic conditions ask for regular intake, sometimes over a lifetime. When taken regularly beestings supports our body’s homeostasis, and thus influences the way we age and the course of the chronic disease we may suffer from eventually.
Susann Kraeftner, MD, the founder and scientist behind Biestmilch, has worked in intensive care and the pharmaceutical industry. For many years she was looking to escape medicine and find a way to get involved with a more creative way of working. Since 2000 she has pursued her life experiment to resuscitate beestings as sports nutrition—she calls it Biestmilch. Go to Biestmilch.com to learn more.