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Why You Shouldn’t Boost Your Immune System

toddler girl looking distressingly at a piece of broccoli on a fork

By Lorna R. Vanderhaeghe, M.Sc.

A common misconception is that boosting your immune system is always beneficial. When the immune system is not functioning as it should, it can be underactive or overactive— and you should not boost an overactive immune system. If an immune system is underactive, the body cannot fight off infections and you can suffer from frequent colds and flus. If an immune system is in overdrive, it can overreact to normally harmless substances like pollen, dust, or certain foods, which can cause conditions like allergies, eczema, or asthma.

A BALANCED immune system is a strong one.

How the Immune System Works

The immune system is your powerful internal army, seeking, recognizing, and destroying invaders to keep us free of illness and disease. When the immune system is functioning optimally, few viruses, bacteria, cancer, or parasites are allowed to set up house in the body. Two main parts of the immune system are the innate immune system you are born with and the adaptive immune system.

Innate Immune System

You are born with an innate immune system made up of different cells with specialized functions. For example, macrophages are white blood cells that engulf and devour invaders. You also have physical structures like nose hairs, and fluids like tears and mucous, to keep invaders out of your body.

Adaptive Immune System

The adaptive immune system develops over time as it is exposed to viruses and other microbes. This is also called natural immunity. Memory cells create antibodies for each invader so that when you are exposed to the same pathogen again, the immune system recognizes it for immediate destruction. For example, if you got mumps as a child, you would have developed natural immunity to the mumps virus to make you immune from getting mumps again. Autoimmune diseases occur when the adaptive immune system mistakes your own body as an invader and attacks it.

Balanced Immune Response

An optimally functioning immune system responds to invaders with the right amount of strength, not too much and not too little. If the immune response is not strong enough, it cannot get rid of the invader. If the immune response is too strong, it can damage your own body.

Discovering the Immune-Balancing Properties of Plants

Plant sterols and sterolins were discovered to have immune-modulating (balancing) properties. The immune-modulating properties of plant sterols and sterolins were first observed in 1958, by a South African boy named R.W. Liebenberg. He witnessed a neighbor treat a man who was dying of prostate cancer. He used a folk remedy from a wild plant in the veldt. The man’s health improved within a week’s time and he lived for another 10 years. When he passed, his cause of death was unrelated to cancer. This observation led R.W. to further research how plant sterols and sterolins can affect the immune system.

Research and Clinical Trials

In 1989, R.W. worked with Professor Patrick Bouic and his colleagues at the Medical School of University of Stellenbosch in Capetown, South Africa, to further research the immune-balancing properties of plant sterols and sterolins. They conducted clinical trials to study the effects of plant sterols and sterolins on different immune conditions such as tuberculosis, immunosuppression in marathon runners, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, and benign prostatic hyperplasia. Their research found that participants who took the plant sterols and sterolins in a 100:1 ratio, 2-3 times orally every day, experienced an improvement in symptoms compared to the placebo.

Moducare® Daily Immune Support

Out of this research, the proprietary blend of plant sterols and sterolins in a 100:1 ratio was made into a natural supplement called Moducare®. Moducare is available in seven countries and has been sold in Canada for over 30 years. Moducare comes in a vegetarian capsule as well as a tasty grape-flavoured chewable tablet for kids and for those who have trouble swallowing pills. Moducare is a vegan and is free from artificial colours, flavours, and sweeteners. Take 2 to 3 tablets or capsules per day to help support a healthy immune system balance.

Note: Moducare should not be taken if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It should not be used by organ and tissue transplant recipients or individuals with a history of diabetes or multiple sclerosis, unless on the advice of and under the direct supervision of a health care provider.

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Lorna R. Vanderhaeghe

Lorna R. Vanderhaeghe, M.Sc., is a women’s natural health expert who has been researching, writing, and lecturing on the subject of nutritional medicine for over 35 years. She has 4 children and 10 grandchildren, and during her career created and sold a successful line of supplement products that helped change women’s lives. Her expertise spans women’s health and immune health specialties. She has written 13 books, including A Smart Woman’s Guide to Hormones and Healthy Immunity. She is also co-author of The Immune System Cure and Healthy Fats for Life. 

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