A walk through any “health” store , Supermarket or High Street Pharmacy and you will find a range of products claiming to
“Boost your Immunity!
It’s on vitamin pills, on supplements and even in food advertising.
It’s all bollocks.
Even if these products worked to “boost”- by which we can assume they mean make stronger- it would be a very bad thing.
A very bad thing.
There are people, you see, whose immune systems ARE boosted.
People with Rheumatoid Arthritis for instance. People with AIDS. People with Lupus. People with Psoriasis.
People with MS.
And me. I have an immunological condition too. It’s not nice.
And even if these products don’t boost the immune system quite that much then just think about what it’s like to have even a SLIGHT boost to the immune system :
A common immune response is inflammation- and trust me I can testify to this- and you DO NOT want to boost inflammation!. I hope I don’t really have to explain why.
When you catch a cold the most obvious effects are coughing and sneezing, sweating, itchiness in some people, and the secretion of mucus. Your immune system is “boosting” itself! It’s not the cold that causes you to cough, sneeze and exude gallons of sticky green and yellow lung butter!
You want to boost this? Really?
Being healthy isn’t having a super, mega-powerful immune system. Health is simply the absence of disease.
I’ll avoid going into T cells, B Cells and GammaDelta cells but any change in the immune system- whether that’s getting “stronger” or weaker is a deviation from the norm and is demonstrably bad.
If these immunity boosting products worked it would be pretty easy to demonstrate. The immune system is very complex and is situated throughout your whole body, regulating processes that try to keep you free from disease or build up defenses against future attacks. Much of the evidence these processes leave can be found in the blood.
Any product claiming immunity boosting powers should be able to show an increase in these markers in a blood test.
Unfortunately this would be a highly unethical test as the researchers would need to give someone an imbalance that could result in an autoimmune disease.
In such trials that have been done it is the immune response that has been measured and these products failed to show any clinically significant level of efficacy.
Just like all other quackery thus far.
Hall, H. “Boost My Immune System? No Thanks!” Skeptic. 22 Mar. 2010
Schindler, L. Understanding the Immune System. , 1988: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health.
Singh, S., Ernst, E. Trick or Treatment. 2008,New York: W. W. Norton.