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better immunity w/ disease? - Page 2

post #21 of 84
Interesting responses - especially the ones from people who say that being exposed to pathogens does not strengthen the immune system.

FTR, I'm not stating an opinion one way or the other.

To the OP, I'm not really sure that the flu example is valid, since having the flu one year doesn't seem to offer any protection from the flu the next year. If it worked that way, then the more times someone caught the flu, the milder it would get, which doesn't actually seem to be the case. The question in your title is generally true - which is that being vaccinated against something tends to provide a stronger, longer-lasting immunity to that particular disease. We are all individuals, though. One person may be immune to chickenpox for 15 years after getting the 2 recommended shots. Another person may get chickenpox again 3 years after she caught it the first time. We're all different, but generally speaking, vaccine-induced immunity is less reliable and of shorter duration.

LOL - just noticed DAYS later, that I said being vaccinated provides stronger immunity, which is not what I meant to say. Having wild infection provides longer, stronger immunity in general, not being vaccinated. Sorry 'bout that.
post #22 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by happy1nluv View Post
...
Does that make any sense? Am i oversimplifying it? Thoughts?
makes total sense! I think, for the most part, our bodies allow certain things to proliferate in order to keep other more deadly bugs down.
post #23 of 84
Quote:
"The hygiene hypothesis suggests that the more hygienic one becomes, the more susceptible one is to various autoimmune diseases. The autoimmune diseases, the diseases that result from all the activation of your immune system, are increasing. The hygiene hypothesis - and we don't yet have a proof of it - acknowledges that the maturation of the immune system needs some kind of hardening, some kind of resistance. Put another way, you cannot really build up good muscles without doing exercise."
Quote:
It's important that a child go through normal childhood illness, for example, notes Dr. Kugathasan. "When we visit the doctor to suppress a lot of things like colds, rather than, in effect, letting nature run its course, we're making immediate treatment the priority rather than long-term prevention, using the analogy of immunological 'muscle-building.'
http://healthlink.mcw.edu/article/1031002421.html

A liiiiittle bit OT but I think it applies.

Take the hygiene hypothesis one step further and apply to the theory of how vaccines are supposed to work.
post #24 of 84
I think the argument is over whether exposure to a pathogen strengthens the immune system in a general way, or only in a very specific (and hence limited) way. It is intuitively compelling to regard the situation as analogous to the strengthening of muscles through exercise. It's also intuitively compelling to view the sun as revolving around the earth. That's the problem with intuition: it may be fast, but it's also very often wrong.

Quote:
I'm not really sure that the flu example is valid, since having the flu one year doesn't seem to offer any protection from the flu the next year. If it worked that way, then the more times someone caught the flu, the milder it would get, which doesn't actually seem to be the case.
It's interesting that upon noticing that the flu example seems to contradict the idea that infection strengthens immunity in a general way, rather than question the validity of that idea itself, your first response is to question whether the flu example is valid.
post #25 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by dymanic View Post
I think the argument is over whether exposure to a pathogen strengthens the immune system in a general way, or only in a very specific (and hence limited) way. It is intuitively compelling to regard the situation as analogous to the strengthening of muscles through exercise. It's also intuitively compelling to view the sun as revolving around the earth. That's the problem with intuition: it may be fast, but it's also very often wrong.

It's interesting that upon noticing that the flu example seems to contradict the idea that infection strengthens immunity in a general way, rather than question the validity of that idea itself, your first response is to question whether the flu example is valid.
I couldn't have said this better myself so I hope this considers me weighed in (if not a bit of a cheat).

SM
post #26 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Science Mom View Post
I couldn't have said this better myself so I hope this considers me weighed in (if not a bit of a cheat).

SM
So if it is not true that exposure strengthens the immune system in a general way, then it is also not true that a child living in a sterile environment, then suddenly exposed to disease would become more ill than a person not living in a sterile environment, also exeriencing his first exposure to the same disease? (Just to use an example I heard somewhere...) What we've been told before on this board by some who choose to vaccinate is that exposure to pathogens strengthens the immune system in such a way that completely preventing said exposure (through sterile environment) would result in a child with an immune system unable to mount a defense to even the most benign cold virus, a virus that a child raised in a normal environment would have no trouble dealing with. Please explain how that is not claiming that exposure strengthens the immune system in a general way. OBVIOUSLY previous exposure to a specific cold virus would strengthen the immune system's response to that particular virus, but that wasn't what we were discussing at the time. IIRC, I even pointed out how unusual it was for a vaxer to claim an immune strengthening effect from exposure to pathogens, but I seem to recall being told no one had noticed anyone ever claiming otherwise.
post #27 of 84
A sterile environment is not the same as a vaccination. With a vaccination you are exposing the immune system to the disease. In a sterile environment you aren't exposing the immune system to anything. Thus you haven't trained the immune system for anything. As you get older your body changes in what it fights against. This actually relates more to allergies. But current theory is when you basically sterilize an infants space and what they come in contact with you're actually training the body to overreact to everything and thus allergies later in life when your immune system really kicks in. You're sort of comparing apples to oranges.
post #28 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by dymanic View Post
It's interesting that upon noticing that the flu example seems to contradict the idea that infection strengthens immunity in a general way, rather than question the validity of that idea itself, your first response is to question whether the flu example is valid.

Dymanic, if you'll notice, I specifically said that I was NOT discussing my personal opinion on whether exposure to pathogens strengthens the immune system. I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other, so there's no reason for me to contradict that particular idea. It's a fact that frequent exposure to influenza viruses doesn't reduce severity of illness when you contract another, different influenza virus. Just like getting the flu vaccine this year won't protect you from the flu if the strains don't match up or next year if the strains are different. That idea is completely separate from the argument that disease strengthens the immune system, one which I personally don't feel strongly about either way.
post #29 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by lisalou View Post
A sterile environment is not the same as a vaccination. With a vaccination you are exposing the immune system to the disease. In a sterile environment you aren't exposing the immune system to anything.
I'm not comparing the two. In fact, what I said had nothing to do with vaccinations at all. The idea is that if exposure - which could actually be by vaccination OR natural infection, based on previous conversations I've had here - doesn't strengthen the immune system in a general way, then complete lack of exposure shouldn't make ANY difference, other than that the individual won't have immunity to any specific disease. If their immune system is functional, though, they should be able to mount just as effective a response as an individual raised in a normal environment is when first exposed to a novel pathogen. Either exposure strengthens the immune system in a general way or it doesn't. If it doesn't, then lack of exposure will have no effect other than to prevent the development of immunity to specific diseases. One cannot argue both that exposure does not strengthen the immune system AND that lack of exposure makes one more vulnerable to novel pathogens than others exposed to novel pathogens.

You edited while I was posting. I'm not comparing apples and oranges. I'm not comparing sterile environment to immunity through vaccination. You are reading things into my post that simply aren't there. Furthermore, the example I put forth is actually borrowed, not my own and it has nothing to do with allergies or autoimmune disease. It has ONLY to do with exposure to pathogens and how well the immune system deals with that.

Err, adding a smile because it sounded like I was mad at ya, but I'm not. Just explaining.
post #30 of 84
If one insists on looking at it that way, I suppose it could. It is advantageous in a general way to have an extensive library of specific antibodies.

Quote:
It's a fact that frequent exposure to influenza viruses doesn't reduce severity of illness when you contract another, different influenza virus.
I don't accept that as a fact. It's a bifurcated system; up to a point, antibody specificity grades off in fine increments, and cross-reactivity results in "partial immunity", which may indeed reduce the severity of illness. Beyond a point, cross-reactivity may rather suddenly cease altogether -- but even then, competition between lineages of B-cell clones, which will lead to production of new antibodies with better binding properties through a process known as "affinity maturation", benefits from having a more advanced starting point from which to proceed. So a lot depends on just how much different the "different virus" is.

If mamakay weren't so busy with the new little one, she'd quickly point out that the system's tendency to gravitate quickly toward a high degree of specificity can go wrong under certain circumstances, resulting in "original antigenic sin", wherein cross-reactivity leads to a preference for production of antibodies that don't work against the pathogen that triggered it because they bind to the wrong epitope. I'm not sure if either of us has determined how common this phenomenon is, and I've yet to be persuaded that it is more likely to occur with vaccination than with infection.
post #31 of 84
I understand better what you're talking about now and am not offended. I do think you're not taking into account how the immune system works and develops. It's not static and behaves differently at different stages in our life. The immunity and ability to fight disease builds over the course of our childhood. If the immune system doesn't get the first exposure at the right times then the immune system can end up improperly trained hence allergies or at least some allergies, etc. There's a difference between fighting pathogens from birth and not having to and 10 years later suddenly have to, if that makes sense.
post #32 of 84
Read this somewhere and I don't remember where so don't ask me cause I'm not going to waste my time finding it but the body has a certain amount of "memory" cells that get used when it encounters an illness. That's how it builds "immunity". If a person were to naturally encounter all the vpd's only 2% of the memory cells of the body would get used up. Vaccinating for the same diseases uses up 70%. This actually makes people more prone to getting sick as they get older because they don't have the resources to fight illness that they are supposed to.

Anyone remember where I read that?

I think it was in one of the many 200-300 page transcripts I have on my hard drive...
post #33 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by lisalou View Post
I understand better what you're talking about now and am not offended. I do think you're not taking into account how the immune system works and develops. It's not static and behaves differently at different stages in our life. The immunity and ability to fight disease builds over the course of our childhood. If the immune system doesn't get the first exposure at the right times then the immune system can end up improperly trained hence allergies or at least some allergies, etc. There's a difference between fighting pathogens from birth and not having to and 10 years later suddenly have to, if that makes sense.
But I'm not talking about allergies at all. My example has nothing to do with allergies. My example is about the idea that the immune system can be "strengthened" in a general way. If it can't be, then the individual from the sterile environment is no more likely to be harmed upon exposure to a new virus than is an individual from a normal environment, since his immune system will also not recognize that virus. Specific immunity builds as a result of exposure to pathogens. If a person isn't exposed to a specific pathogen, they aren't going to be immune to it and they aren't going to be any more able to fight off that pathogen than the hypothetical sterile environment child - UNLESS there is a general strengthening of the immune system that occurs as a result of challenge.

Again, I don't have a strong opinion about this either way. I'm merely pointing out that we can't accept two mutually exclusive views as equally valid.
post #34 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plummeting View Post
So if it is not true that exposure strengthens the immune system in a general way, then it is also not true that a child living in a sterile environment, then suddenly exposed to disease would become more ill than a person not living in a sterile environment, also exeriencing his first exposure to the same disease? (Just to use an example I heard somewhere...) What we've been told before on this board by some who choose to vaccinate is that exposure to pathogens strengthens the immune system in such a way that completely preventing said exposure (through sterile environment) would result in a child with an immune system unable to mount a defense to even the most benign cold virus, a virus that a child raised in a normal environment would have no trouble dealing with. Please explain how that is not claiming that exposure strengthens the immune system in a general way. OBVIOUSLY previous exposure to a specific cold virus would strengthen the immune system's response to that particular virus, but that wasn't what we were discussing at the time. IIRC, I even pointed out how unusual it was for a vaxer to claim an immune strengthening effect from exposure to pathogens, but I seem to recall being told no one had noticed anyone ever claiming otherwise.
I think the use of the term 'strengthening' is what has led some to intuitively equate immune challenge with muscle strengthening. I suppose that the term 'teaching' or 'instructing' may invoke a more accurate mental picture. Even more so, thinking of immune function as analogous to branches of the military and special forces that has received specific training and has an arsenal of specialised weaponry.

Let's use our sterile environment child example. Why would they be more susceptible to challenge with an environmental organism? And you bring up a good point here. First, a child living in a normal environment will be challenged with numerous antigens leading to both specific and non-specific humoral and cellular immunity. We are constantly exposed to non-pathogenic or lowly pathogenic organisms that are closely related to more pathogenic strains so we will have acquired some antibody maturation that will be protective. Next, exposure to environmental antigens will produce non-specific, cell-mediated immune responses that will theoretically assist in the immune response to a subsequent challenge. So, by that account, one could argue that infections and (like it or not) vaccines do 'instruct' or assist immune function as a whole. I would be very careful as to the interpretation of my statements though for such non-specific cell-mediated immunity may be/is short-lived and the innate response can do much damage to tissue as non-specific immunity is the release of toxins afterall.

SM
post #35 of 84
I am not equating immune challenge with muscle strengthening. I'm asking for an explanation that is not equivocal - that does not allow one to play both sides of argument.

Quote:
We are constantly exposed to non-pathogenic or lowly pathogenic organisms that are closely related to more pathogenic strains so we will have acquired some antibody maturation that will be protective. Next, exposure to environmental antigens will produce non-specific, cell-mediated immune responses that will theoretically assist in the immune response to a subsequent challenge. So, by that account, one could argue that infections and (like it or not) vaccines do 'instruct' or assist immune function as a whole. I would be very careful as to the interpretation of my statements though for such non-specific cell-mediated immunity may be/is short-lived and the innate response can do much damage to tissue as non-specific immunity is the release of toxins afterall.
So what you are saying is that, under certain circumstances, exposure to one pathogen will offer some protection from another pathogen, presumably because they are similar enough that the body will recognize the new pathogen - as is the case with vaccinia and variola. I'm aware of that. Could you explain how cell-mediated immune responses could (theoretically) assist in a subsequent challenge? Because your above statement was that cell-mediated immunity "may be/is" short-lived. Are you saying it could assist in a subsequent challenge if that challenged happened almost immediately, but not later?

At any rate, that answers my question. Apparently, the idea that exposure to pathogens can strengthen the immune system is scientifically sound, if you are careful in how you apply the term "strengthen". Basically, the idea in the OP may not be accurate, but it is not false to say that exposure to disease can have a positive impact on the immune system as a whole...if it doesn't kill you. lol
post #36 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plummeting View Post
Apparently, the idea that exposure to pathogens can strengthen the immune system is scientifically sound, if you are careful in how you apply the term "strengthen".
I agree with that.

It would be nice if "optimal immune fitness" could be described and measured in crisp terms, but I don't think it would be easy to do that. An example of the difficulty is the point raised above by cloak: "the body has a certain amount of memory cells that get used when it encounters an illness". One aspect of immunosenescence is a decrease in thymic output of virgin T cells, and encounters with foreign antigen are what depletes the existing supply. So you end up with a system capable of marshalling a robust response to a pathogen antigenically similar to what it has encountered previously, but less able to do so when faced with something new. Is it better to be inexperienced but extremely flexible, or to be very experienced but limited in the ability to learn new things?
post #37 of 84
I am not sure, but I have noticed one strange contradiction on the forum. On the one hand, lots of folks talk about how healthy their unvaxed kids are and that they have never been sick, and then at other times, talk about how immunizations interfere with the body "learning" to fight diseases. SO it's kind of incongruous. No one wants their kid/baby sick, but if part of the picture of good health IS in fact having chances to fight childhood diseases, then somewhat logically, a child that has never been ill might seem perfectly healthy but might not be as healthy as the next child that has gotten sick simply because the other child has had opportunities to practice illness because their immune system is so good. But where is the proof of that? I always wonder just how people know that an immune system is good and if the only criteria is "never been sick." The assumption seems to be that the healthy child has been exposed to and fought off disease before affecting the body. Or that they have a strong immune system. Might not be any of those cases though. But this ties in to the whole germ theory concept, just what the immune system needs and what it does or doesn't do... hard to piece it apart I think.

Is a child who has never been sick before necessarily healthier than a child that has been sick and recovered successfully from illness?
post #38 of 84
The theory described in the first post is very much akin to what Rudolph Steiner wrote about. It is old science. Disproven years ago. I do believe in the idea that our immune systems are not getting enough "practice" and are freaking out, but I think antibacterials and hypercompulsive cleanliness and urban living are more at fault than vaccines.

I also just spoke to my naturopath about this idea today and she said that I am correct. She also said that vaccines do less to the immune system than a VPD because they are specific whereas a disease can affect many systems. Of course, a serious reaction could also affect many bodily systems but those are very rare.

She also agreed that while it is not wise to give meds to a minor fever, that it is best to let it run its course unless the child is in serious pain and/or the fever gets worse, it is also not true that a fever is beneficial or does some good for the body. Fever indicates the body is working hard on something that is wrong. Therefore, avoidance of fever, and avoidance of illness, is best. The idea that you NEED illness in order to have a healthy immune system is false because you cannot say beforehand how the body is going to deal with that illness and you cannot know for certain if your immune system is strong enough to fight it. Many of us feel we are strong but we may, in fact, not be. Also, illness weakens the immune system, making us susceptible to other illnesses at the same time or immediately afterward. It is best, she said, to strengthen the immune system through a healthy lifestyle and nutrition.
post #39 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by anewmama View Post
I am not sure, but I have noticed one strange contradiction on the forum. On the one hand, lots of folks talk about how healthy their unvaxed kids are and that they have never been sick, and then at other times, talk about how immunizations interfere with the body "learning" to fight diseases. SO it's kind of incongruous. No one wants their kid/baby sick, but if part of the picture of good health IS in fact having chances to fight childhood diseases, then somewhat logically, a child that has never been ill might seem perfectly healthy but might not be as healthy as the next child that has gotten sick simply because the other child has had opportunities to practice illness because their immune system is so good. But where is the proof of that? I always wonder just how people know that an immune system is good and if the only criteria is "never been sick." The assumption seems to be that the healthy child has been exposed to and fought off disease before affecting the body. Or that they have a strong immune system. Might not be any of those cases though. But this ties in to the whole germ theory concept, just what the immune system needs and what it does or doesn't do... hard to piece it apart I think.

Is a child who has never been sick before necessarily healthier than a child that has been sick and recovered successfully from illness?
nak

Not every person who contracts a VPD shows signs of that VPD or illness. Some people can be carriers, some show symptoms and some are asymptomatic (no symptoms) and yet still have come into contact and contracted the illness(es).

Sheal
post #40 of 84
..n/m OT
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