Diseases of the immune system
Antibodies and the lymphatic system
The human body resists infection by means of antibodies and white blood cells. Antibodies are protein substances produced by the lymphoid tissue (spleen, thymus gland and the lymph nodes) that circulate in the blood. They react with their corresponding antigens (foreign bodies that cause antibodies to he formed) and make them harmless. There are a number of immunoglobulins (large protein molecules) that act as antibodies, and each has a particular function. For example, one is responsible for allergic reactions and another is produced to fight bacteria and viruses in the body.
The lymphatic system is also important in the body’s immune response. Lymph nodes are swellings that occur at various points in the system. They are found in the neck, groin and armpit, and their main function is to remove foreign particles from the lymph, and to participate in the immune response. In this latter function they become enlarged and produce lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, which locate and neutralize antigens, or produce antibodies, depending upon their type.
The lymph itself is a colourless, watery fluid. It is derived from blood and is similar to plasma. It contains 95 percent water, with protein, sugar, salt and lymphocytes. It is circulated by muscular action, and pumped through the lymph nodes for filtering.
It is clear that the lymphatic system, and the immune system overall, are very important in maintaining good health. Any disorder or deficiency in this system will lead to illness, which in some cases may be life-threatening. Reflexology may prove useful in restoring the balance although the need for professional medical advice should always be borne in mind.
Reflex points for the immune system
A number of reflexes to the lymph glands can be worked, on the back of the hands, located over the wrists and on the top of the foot . The spleen is also an important reflex because the spleen itself produces lymphocytes (amongst other things). Associated reflexes that should be worked are those for the endocrine glands, circulation and liver.
In the case of infectious diseases, many of which occur in childhood 9such as measles, mumps and chickenpox), the infection will normally run its course and as a result confer immunity to further bouts. To minimize discomfort and aid the recovery, the reflexes for the brain, solar plexus, circulation, endocrine glands and liver should be massaged.
The same applies to most infectious conditions, even autoimmune diseases where the antibodies attack their own body cells. Here, the lymph gland reflexes are particularly important.