Immunomodulators and immunostimulants: truth and myths about magic pills
If earlier it was said that all diseases are from nerves, now weakened immunity is blamed for everything. In order to strengthen it, a large number of various means are proposed – immunomodulators (regulating the immune system) and immunostimulants (enhancing immunity). Advertising promises that as soon as you start taking these miracle pills, your immunity will strengthen and all diseases will recede. Is it so?
In fact, doctors have no consensus on the benefits of drugs that affect the immune system. But they agree on one thing: immunomodulators and immunostimulants should be taken only as directed by a doctor. These drugs are not as harmless as the advertisement claims. They can cause significant harm to health if you take them just like that, just in case. Each drug has its own indications, and they must be taken into account. If this is not done, the consequences can be very serious.
Immunity and immune system
Immunity is the body’s ability to fight various foreign substances, microorganisms that can interfere with its work. Immunity is innate, laid down at the genetic level, and acquired, which develops throughout a person’s life. Immunity is realized through the immune system, which is represented by the red bone marrow, thymus, spleen, lymph nodes, lymph, tonsils. Immediate “fighters” with pathological and foreign elements are immunocompetent cells – lymphocytes, white blood cells, phagocytes, basophils, eosinophils, etc.
Imbalance in the immune system
The human immune system is a very complex mechanism in which many organs, tissues, and cells are involved. If we begin to interfere with the functioning of the immune system even at the level of one of its links, all its components are subject to change. This threatens to fail, the imbalance of this unique mechanism and the development of allergic reactions.
The risk of developing autoimmune diseases
With a constant increase in immunity with the help of immunostimulants, you can get excessive activity of the immune system. The result may be that the immune system begins to perceive its own cells and tissues as foreign and begins to destroy them. Thus, an organ or even several organs suffers – the body begins to self-destruct. Such conditions are called autoimmune diseases. These include, in particular, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus. The trouble is that a cure for these diseases is impossible. Fortunately, if a person has no predisposing factors, such as a hereditary predisposition, then the risk of an autoimmune disease is very small.
Oddly enough, but the unreasonable reception of immunostimulants leads to the opposite effect. The immune system gets used to the constant stimulation of drugs and begins to work weaker. As a result, in order to maintain immunity, the body needs to receive new doses of immunostimulants all the time. It turns out a vicious circle, from which it is very difficult to get out.
Universal immunomodulator does not exist
Immunomodulators include a wide range of different drugs: interferons, interleukins, etc., which act on different components of the immune system. There is no one remedy that would magically enhance immunity. It should be understood which component of the immune system needs to be strengthened, and depending on this, choose a drug. In addition, some drugs act at the very beginning of the disease, others at its peak, and others – during the period of remission. Therefore, it makes no sense to prescribe a medicine for yourself – there will be no effect from it, but undesirable consequences are quite possible.
Is there an effect?
A large number of widely advertised anti-respiratory immunomodulators have not been clinically tested. And this means that their effectiveness and safety of use are not scientifically proven. Many doctors find most of the base drugs and placebo available. It is interesting that in the USA and Europe immunomodulators are used only for immunodeficiency conditions, and only as directed and under the supervision of a doctor.
When immunomodulators are needed
Many immunologists believe that it is necessary to take such drugs only according to the indications after examining the patient and performing an immunogram for him – a blood test for the components of the immune system. Indications for receiving immunostimulants are immunodeficiency states, which are characterized by:
frequent respiratory infections, viral and bacterial infections with complications, relapses of herpes, the occurrence of boils;
enlarged spleen and lymph nodes;
the development of autoimmune diseases.
The use of immunomodulators in such conditions should be combined with other therapeutic agents.
Do not run to the pharmacy and ask for “something for immunity” at the slightest ailment or a cold.