Infection — something that we hear much of in the media but do we really understand what it is. Essentially, an infection results when a microorganism or virus invades the body and creates an unfavourable reaction. This may include swelling, pain, heat, redness and/or disordered function. The reaction may be local or more generalized.

The symptoms of infection are the direct result of your body’s immune system changing the environment and making the body inhospitable to the invading organism. Temperature elevates in order to kill off the organism, increased blood flow to area allows the white blood cells to flood into the area and destroy the offender, resulting in swelling and redness and heat. You may also notice a decrease in appetite as your body focuses its attention on the matter at hand. Expending energy to digest food may be too much to handle at the moment.

A common treatment for infection is the use of anti-biotics. It should be noted that while effective on bacteria, these drugs are of no value for viruses. In fact, use of antibiotics should be restricted to those times when an infection is of a serious nature, as they tend to deplete adrenal function and upset the delicate colonies of beneficial bacteria that reside in our guts, resulting in increased susceptibility to future infections.

Some people are prone to frequent infections, they may have taken many courses of anti-biotics but the infections continue to re-occur and in fact seem to be more severe with each relapse. These people have weakened immune systems. With good supportive therapies, this trend can be reversed.

Consider a person with frequent lung infections. During a flare-up, they may wish to use herbs like Viburnum latana or Rosa canina. Once the illness is under control they may need Acer campestris or Platanus orientalis to control a latent virus or Juglans regia to completely eradicate any bacteria or parasites that may be lingering.

Long term and repeated illnesses invariably weaken the adrenal glands and therefore any supportive therapy must incorporate some form of adrenal support. A beautiful Chinese herb therapy for this is Liu Wei di Huang Wan, or Cordyceps mushroom.

The choices are limitless and sometimes mind-boggling. Yet, it cannot be stressed enough the importance of support and tonification of the immune system during and after each illness. You wouldn’t dream of driving your car without changing the oil and filters after a long haul. Treat you body with an equal degree of care and it will serve you well for many years to come.