Immune Response To Bacterial & Viral Antigens & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Viruses, such as Epstien-Barr (mononucleosis) and several strains of herpes, have long been associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. This article will explain the connection between viruses and CFS.

T-helper cells

T-helper cells are white blood cells that find and annihilate foreign organisms in the body. The "T" stands for Thymus, which is the gland in the neck where the cells mature. T-helper cells are essential to keeping your body healthy and fighting off disease. Doctors measure T-cells in HIV/AIDS patients to assess their health. There are two different kinds of T-helper cells that defend your body against invaders. T-helper 1 cells seek out organisms that invade cells, like viruses. T-helper 2 cells seek out organisms outside of cells, like bacteria, parasites, allergens and toxins. The T-helper cells are each activated by different types of a protein called cytokine.

The immune system response to viral and bacterial antigens

When you are healthy, the levels of T-helper cells in your body are balanced. When you have an acute, or viral, infection, T-helper 1 cells take over and T-helper 2 cells are suppressed. When you have a chronic, or bacterial, infection, T-helper 2 takes over and the T-helper 1 cells are suppressed. Viruses, like Epstien-Barr, human herpes virus 6 and cytomegalovirus, trick the body by imitating cytokines. This keeps the immune system from activating the right T-helper cells to fight the intruders.

Chronic fatigue syndrome and T-helper cells

Some doctors have observed that patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome have an imbalance in the levels of T-helper cells. The T-helper 2 cells suppress the T-helper 1 cells, which keeps the body from defending itself against viruses. To fix the T-helper cell imbalance and relieve the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, the doctor must try to suppress the T-helper 2 activation. Certain supplements can help restore the balance:

  • Essential fatty acids
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin A
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEa, a steroid hormone similar to testosterone)
  • Melatonin (a hormone that regulates waking and sleeping cycles)
  • Ginseng
  • Echinacea

Other supplements to improve your chronic fatigue syndrome

  • Magnesium, for energy metabolism
  • Licorice and sodium, for adrenal support
  • Glutamine, for stress
  • Tyrosine, for brain hormones and neurotransmitters

Fighting mononucleosis with plant extracts

Several plant extracts have proven useful in fighting the Epstein-barr virus, which causes mononuclieosis and has been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome:

  • Bilberry extract
  • Curcumin (an herbal supplement made from curry spices)
  • Carotenoids (found in fruits and vegetables, converted to vitamin A)
  • Chlorophylls (antioxidant related to vitamin B12 found in plant leaves)

Scientists believe that people with chronic fatigue syndrome are susceptible because their bodies aren't able make to fight off the viruses. Adding supplements to your diet, like ginseng, essential fatty acids and vitamin A, can help to restore balance in your immune system and relieve your symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.


Photo Credit: frozenfloridians

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