The immune system is one of the most complex and amazing systems in the human body. Its primary role is to protect the body against infection and prevent the development of disease and cancer. It is designed to isolate or destroy cancerous cells, which exist in each person’s body from time to time. Suppression of the body’s immune system over a long period of time can result in cancerous growths.
Support and enhancement of the body’s immune system is one of the most important keys in achieving resistance to disease and preventing and treating cancer. It is our first line of defense against tumour formation and cancer development.
The immune system is composed of lymphatic vessels and organs (lymph nodes, thymus, spleen, adenoids, appendix and tonsils), bone marrow, white blood cells (neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, phagocytes), specialized cells residing in various tissues (macrophages, mast cells etc.) and specialized chemical factors. Following is a basic description of the immune system’s important components:
Lymphatic System – Lymph, Lymphatic Vessels, Lymphatic Tissue and Lymph Nodes
The lymphatic system produces white blood cells that fight disease and help the body to detoxify wastes. The space in between the cells is called the interstitium and the fluid contained within these spaces is called the interstitial fluid. This fluid flows into the lymphatic vessels and becomes the lymph – the fluid that flows through the body in lymphatic vessels. Lymphatic vessels transport lymphocytes and lymph around the body and drain waste products from the tissues. The lymphatic vessels transport the lymph to the lymph nodes, which filter the lymph. The lymph nodes serve two functions:
1. They remove foreign materials from lymph fluid before it enters the blood stream.
2. They are centres for the production of immune cells, particularly lymphocytes.
The cells responsible for filtering the lymph are called macrophages. These cells engulf and destroy foreign bacteria, old red blood cells and cellular debris. The lymph nodes also contain B-lymphocytes, the white blood cells that initiate antibody production in response to disease producing organisms.
We should consider our body’s lymph system as the ‘rubbish removal’ company. Put simply, the macrophages are the ‘garbage workers’ that collect and break down the wastes and employ other staff to make your internal city clean and disease free, the lymphatic vessels are the body’s ‘rubbish removal highways’ and the lymph nodes are ‘the garbage sorting dumps that remove the bad rubbish, keeps the goodies found in the rubbish and act as the hub for garbage workers (immune cells) waiting for a suitable job in the body’s rubbish removal company’.
The adenoids are an organ of the immune system that is found at the rear of the nose. It is made up primarily of lymphatic tissue. B-Lymphocytes are stored here in preparation to attack antigens (the enemy).
The appendix is made up mostly of lymphatic tissue and helps the immune system by beginning some defense actions.