Author Julie Casper, L. Ac., is a hTMA clinician and educator, she works with patients across the U.S. and internationally. In addition, she supports health professionals who are interested in adding clinical hTMA to their practice. Contact:

Immune Response Ability

Author: Julie Casper, L. Ac.

The immune system is not one specific thing. It involves the interaction of specific molecular, chemical and cellular processes, along with psychological and neurological affects. About 80% of all the immunologically active cells are located in the Gut-Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT).


  1. Robust Immune Function
  2. Immunology Overview
  3. Disease Manifestations and Immune Responses
  4. Immune Function and Digestion
  5. Importance of Intestinal Bacteria
  6. Determining Immune System Competence

Robust Immune Function

The research of Dr. George Solomon (UCLA professor and pioneer in the field of psychoneuroimmunology) has found that people with balanced and resilient immune systems have the following personality traits. These traits are signs that the individual has an effective ability to respond to stressors.

Psychological Indicators of a Healthy Immune Function

Immunology Overview

A nice, short, introduction to immunology, created by Armando Hasudungan (a student). For more on the role of phagocytes in innate or nonspecific immunity, please visit the Kahn Academy

Cellular and Humoral Systems

The immune system is generally recognized as having two main controlling systems, cellular and humoral. The cell-mediated immune response involves specific cells that detect and destroy invading viral and bacterial organisms. This parasympathetic system is the primary defense against viral and fungal infections, tumor antigens and intracellular organisms. The humoral-mediated immune response involves macromolecules found in extracellular fluids (humours, or body fluids). This sympathetic system is the primary defense against bacterial infection.

Disease Manifestations and Immune Responses

Sympathetic Parasympathetic
(Increased Humoral Response) (Increased Cellular Response)
Rheumatoid Arthritis Osteoarthritis
Allergies (Histamine) Allergies (Low Histamine)
Hyperthyroidism Hypothyroidism
Cushing's Disease Addison's disease
Juvenile Diabetes Adult Onset Diabetes
Bacterial Infections Viral Infections
Hypoparathyroidism Hyperparathyroidism
Multiple Sclerosis (true) Multiple Sclerosis (False)
Parkinson's Disease Yeast and Fungus
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis AIDS
Anxiety Depression
Malignancies (fast growing, metastatic) Malignancies (slow growing tumors)

Immune Function and Digestion

About 80% of all the immunologically active cells are located in the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). Microbes in the gut are crucial in contributing to the immunological development of the GALT. It is necessary for the body to establish an efficient microbe-gut immune system interaction because there are trillions of prokaryotic organisms that are harbored in an infant's intestine. And some are potentially pathogenic.1

Studies have been done to examine the gut tissues of germ-free mice and found that the absence of microbes gave rise to an underdeveloped and sparse mucosal immune system. Characteristics of this underdeveloped mucosal immune system include a gut lining that does not have immune cells such as IgA plasma cells, CD4 cells, and intraepithelial lymphocytes. This indicates that the mucosal immune system is dependent on gut bacteria. Since newborn infants do not show an underdeveloped and sparse mucosal immune system, it explains how microbes harbored in an infant's intestine are crucial for the development of a proper mucosal immune system.

Intestinal bacteria affect epithelium cell functions through signaling receptors. The function of the epithelium cell is to regulate immune gut response by controlling T cell differentiation and antibody responses to T cell-dependent antigens. Another immune function that microbial colonization of the gut provides is the ability to reduce the possibility of immune hyperreactivity such as allergies and other autoimmune disorders through inducing modulation of the ratio of T-cells.

One way to help improve your gut bacteria population is to eat plenty of leafy green vegetables. The beneficial bacteria have a special affinity for the sulfoquinovose which is abundant in these plants.

Importance of Intestinal Bacteria

Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are the two of the main types of bacteria that reside in the small intestine. Some commercial strains of these groups of bacteria are used as probiotics. These bacterial groups may play a role in both local and systemic immune function of the intestine. Aside from providing a gut defense barrier against harmful bacteria, viruses and toxins, some strains of these two types of bacteria may secrete antimicrobial substrates to inhibit the growth of pathogens.

Intestinal bacteria are also shown to improve the secretory immune function and the intestinal flora such as influencing secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) synthesis and sIgA precursors. sIgA is an immunoglobulin that is present in mucosal surfaces. Its function is mainly to protect against the attack of antigens, pathogens, toxins and viruses.

Researchers have shown that high bacteroid and clostridium counts, accompanied by low bifidobacterium counts, can lead to a compromised immune response in infants. The importance of balanced gut flora and effective digestive function cannot be overstated in providing robust immune response ability.

Determining Immune System Competence

A fully functioning and resilient immune response requires that there is a balance between these two main controlling immune responses. If one is dominant over the other, the body becomes susceptible to infection. The nutritional status of the body determines the competence of the immune system. This balance is achieved largely through optimum nutrition. hTMA, when properly performed and interpreted, can substantially contribute to the assessment and maintenance of optimum nutritional status of the individual. hTMA may also contribute to the determination of sympathetic or parasympathetic dominance, thereby, providing an easily obtained and economic test for determining individual susceptibility to disease, reaction to xenobiotics, and immune regulation.

  1. Saavedra, Jose M. (2007). Use of Probiotics in Pediatrics: Rationale, Mechanisms of Action, and Practical Aspects. Nutrition in Clinical Practice 22(3), 351-365
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