Are you Th1 or Th2 dominant and why is this so important to know?
To help us understand what’s happening on the outside, we first have to look on the inside. For this exercise lets split your immune system into two. We’ll call the first half Th1 and the second half Th2. We’ll then look deeper at the one that applies to YOU.
But first, let's simplify what Th actually means …
Th, is an abbreviation for T-helper cells which form part of the immune system. Their job is to recognize and destroy any foreign microorganism that can cause disease. Th1 cells typically deal with infections by viruses and certain bacteria.
They are the body’s first line of defense against any pathogen that gets inside our cells. Th1 cells tend to be pro-inflammatory. Th2 cells on the other hand typically deal with bacteria, toxins, and allergens. They are responsible for stimulating the production of antibodies. Th2 cells tend not to be inflammatory.
But what does that mean and why is this so important to know?
While it may sound complicated on the surface, it’s really not. Both work sides of the immune system are working together, think of them as a kind of tag-team. Depending on the threat level, sometimes Th1 does more of the work and Th2 may play a lesser role. As the threat changes, roles are quickly switched. Once the threat has been neutralized the two stand down and return to equal balance. This is how a well-balanced immune system should work. But there’s a problem, can you see it?
In an ideal situation, neither Th1 or Th2 is displaying a more dominant position. However, in some people, a prolonged pattern of either Th1 or Th2 dominance occurs and this is where health problems begin.
Knowing whether your immune system is Th1 or Th2 dominant plays an important part in the wellness puzzle. Not least because it allows you to figure out which is the best course of action to take (and which you should avoid!).
Perhaps now it makes sense why that cupboard full of natural supplements always makes you feel worse. Anything that boosts one side of the immune system tips the balance. Remember, balance is your body's preferred state.
SO HOW DO WE KNOW?
So how do we know if we are Th1 or Th2 dominant? That’s a great question and the answer is relatively straightforward. For starters, there is a Th1, Th2 cytokine blood panel test. Your primary healthcare giver should be able to hook you up with the test, failing that, functional doctors usually have a pretty good handle on things.
Th1 cells are part of what’s called cell-mediated immunity, which is an immune response that does not involve antibodies. It does, however, involve the release of various cytokines in response to foreign proteins. Let’s simplify -if this problem was a basic image, this is how Th1 dominance might look.
People who are typically Th1 dominant (but not all) may have delayed food sensitivities, increased brain fog, fatigue, increased likelihood of Type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis (although MS can be found in both Th1 and Th2 dominant types), Hashimoto’s, Grave’s disease, Crohn’s Disease, psoriasis, Sjogren’s syndrome, celiac disease, lichen planus, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic viral infections. Again, these are generalizations and as with any autoimmune condition, it can easily manifest itself in multiple ways.
Being Th1 dominant means the immune system is constantly amped up. A telltale sign of the Th1 dominant person may be a tendency to catch fewer colds. Some reports even suggest lower cancer rates. But the devil is always in the details and as we mentioned earlier balance is super important. The downside of being Th1 dominant is a higher incidence of autoimmune conditions.
Th1 types should beware of any supplement that has the potential to boost the immune system. Why?
Supplements that increase Th1 also increase the problem. For example, natural supplements like Echinacea, astragalus, olive leaf, elderberry, and any medicinal mushrooms that are immune-boosting. Be vigilant, because this is by no means a complete list!
NOW LET’S TAKE A CLOSER AT Th2 DOMINANCE
Having an immune system that is Th1 dominant is one thing but what happens when things swing the other way? Better hold onto your hat for a second, this is where it gets a little bumpy. Ready?
Functionally, Th2 cytokines have effects on many cell types in the body because the cytokine receptors are widely expressed in numerous cell types. Th2 cells stimulate and recruit specialized subsets of immune cells, such as eosinophils and basophils, to the site of infection or in response to allergens or toxins leading to tissue eosinophilia and mast cell hyperplasia. I know, right? Who thinks this way?
Let’s look at an image of this instead. Ahhh, isn’t that better?
If we break this down into plain English, Th2 has some pretty beefy weapons called B cells and antibodies. These B cells are great to use in battle as they help produce more antibodies when needed.
Essentially, this means they just keep on going and never run out of ammo — pretty cool, right?
This is done to ensure there is always enough ammo on hand should any foreign invader ever try to sneak into the body. Also, keep in mind that Th2 cells are anti-inflammatory.
Now, can you see the importance of a well balanced immune system?
Once a foreign invader enters the body it becomes locked in battle with BOTH elements of Th1 and Th2. As the battle rages, the pro-inflammatory process needs to be “cooled down” using anti-inflammatory cytokines; hence it’s a team effort. It’s really not helpful having one side do all the work because left unchecked, systemic inflammation causes untold damage. When this form of inflammation is allowed to run rampant it can manifest itself in just ANY illness from headaches to cancer. It’s the driving force behind every illness known to man.
When Th2 gets to be the dominant one, we may be more inclined to get seasonal allergies, asthma, food and drug allergies, and anaphylactic reactions rather than systemic inflammation. Th2 dominance can also be caused by a variety of issues such as heavy metals such as aluminum, mercury, and lead which are known to lower immune function. When heavy metals are purged from the body, a stronger, clearer-thinking version of YOU comes to the surface. As an added bonus, heavy metal detoxification helps protects against accelerated aging and sickness.
Okay, what else do we need to know?
When the immune system is shifted too much to the Th2 system, people generally have less inflammation but their potential to develop allergies to pretty much everything increases. It’s the allergens that then begin causing problems.
Other possible diseases linked to Th2 dominant conditions may include Lupus, allergic dermatitis, atopic eczema, sinusitis, inflammatory bowel diseases, asthma, allergies, colitis, and multi-chemical sensitivities. Some reports even suggest an elevated Th2 may increase the risk of certain cancers. Either way, once the immune system gets stuck out of balance, we lose.
Interestingly, Lyme disease has the ability to throw Th1 out of balance because Lyme disease creates a state of perpetual Th1 dominance; this, unfortunately, results in constant inflammation, causing an ongoing downward spiral of damage in the body. I know, right? Let’s not go there, instead, let’s focus on solutions.
Because Th1 dominance is pro-inflammatory, we can now see the importance of eliminating all those foods that create inflammation. Foods loaded with preservatives, refined and fried foods, and fast foods all contribute to complicating the problem. But let’s not forget our old friend sugar that can weaken the immune system and tip it out of balance.
Do you see how food keeps linking all this together? Spices like curcumin, turmeric, and ginger along with omega 3 oils are thought to be helpful because they may help counteract inflammation imbalance.
We seem to have covered a lot of ground here in one short read. In doing so I’ve attempted to keep the complex simple; this is what I love to do. However, the immune system is a vast subject and we didn’t even get a chance to talk about Th17 cells. In case you are wondering why it’s because they are a subset of activated CD4+ T cells that are responsive to IL-1R1 and IL-23R signaling. I know, right? Just thinking about it gave me a headache too.
However, if the whole Th1, Th2, Th17 concept has piqued your interest then continue reading. Autoimmune conditions are a tricky beast but I find them all rather interesting. If you would like to know more, please check out my book in today’s homework section below.
Before we end I’d like to briefly mention the lymphatic system. As many may already know it’s a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste, and other unwanted materials.
The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body. Under each of your armpits (hello again) are more than twenty tiny lymph nodes. These small but highly sensitive lumps that act like tiny checkpoints. But there’s a problem, can you see it?
The job of the lymphatic system is an important one as it helps to fight infection. So you have to question the logic of squirting antiperspirant in such a delicate area. Especially when we stop and look at the loooong list of toxic ingredients (which usually includes aluminum). This can cause some people to sleepwalk into illness.
As the name suggests, antiperspirant stops your skin from perspiring by literally clogging it up. Seeing how the skin is the body’s third kidney, it is alive and needs to breathe. With that in mind, perhaps applying an antiperspirant isn’t a smart idea for anyone looking to overcome illness. The irony is the more we overload the lymphatic system the worse B.O becomes.
Unlike the heart, the lymphatic system has no pump and requires movement to push lymphatic fluid around the body. This fluid moves best when we move, which is more bad news if we happen to be sitting still most of the day squirting toxic chemicals under our armpits. The good news is, you don’t need a gym membership to get the lymph moving. Hippocrates said it this way: “Walking is man’s best medicine.”
If walking isn’t your thang, then my final tip for the day is to take a James Bond shower. This is effective at moving lymph and super easy to do. I just know you are going to love this one!
First, hop into a hot shower and relax — feels good, right?
Now at some point simply turn the water all the way to cold and count to thirty, longer if you can stand it. Repeat this three times between hot and cold. This will help push the lymphatic fluid around the body. Doing it every day is no guarantee that you will live longer, but by the end of the week, it may seem like it, lol.
What did we learn from this?
The immune system works best when it is in balance. As for the impact on each individual? It really depends on the complex makeup of each person. That said, the body is pretty good at sending out clues. If you have an autoimmune condition, your body will usually let you know about it. If you aren’t experiencing any noticeable symptoms then the chances are, your immune system hasn’t gone haywire. If in doubt, it’s always best to get yourself checked out with an informed healthcare provider.
Like to know more? Check out this book
This book will show you …
- Proven techniques that boost energy
- How to tackle pain without popping pills
- What to eat without feeling overwhelmed or confused
- How to find the root cause of symptoms
- The importance of sleep and how to do it right
- How to curb unhealthy food cravings
- Why parasites and fungi prevent healing
- Effective techniques that detoxify heavy metals
- Where to find the cleanest foods (spoiler alert, they aren’t in the organic section)
- Five essential supplements that promote health
- How to increase mental clarity
One book, everything you need to know, explained step-by-step. It’s the Swiss Army knife of health books!