Recurrent infection; slow or incomplete recovery from illness or injury; slow or poor response to proven treatments; fatigue; lethargy; extended sleep requirements; susceptibility to colds, flu, or cancer. All of these illness stem from weakness of the immune system. Diseases that stem from an overactive immune system include allergies (see the section on Allergies for symptoms) and immune disorders in which the immune system attacks the tissues of the body, such as multiple sclerosis (see the section on Multiple Sclerosis). Symptoms that occur when the immune system attacks healthy tissues include fatigue, lethargy, weakness, tingling in the finger tips, numbness, heavy extremities, spastic muscle activity, stiffness, and incontinence.  

What are Immune Disorders?

From Modern Western Medicine

There are two types of immune disorders, which have very different sets of symptoms. One set stems from immune deficiency in which the body’s defense fail to respond adequately to a pathogen, toxic agent, or cancer, and therefore allows the disease-causing agent to proliferate. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) weakens immune response by destroying macrophages and CD4 cells (the immune system’s governing cells). As the number of macrophages and CD4 cells decline, the number of CD8 cells—the cells that turn off the immune response—increase, thus causing the system to shut down. Meanwhile, opportunistic diseases, such as pneumonia, Candida albicans, or certain types of cancer gain a foothold within the body, either causing further illness or death.

The second group of immune disorders arises from an overreaction of the immune system, in which the immune system is hypersensitive to antigens, as in the case of multiple sclerosis. Science does not know why the immune system attacks the body’s tissues.

From Traditional Medicine

In general, immune deficiency arises out of exhaustion, which itself occurs from excessive amounts of work, irregular hours, inadequate sleep, the intake of drugs, promiscuity, and a nutrient-deprived diet.

An overactive immune response occurs when the toxins build up within the tissue fluid, cells, and blood-cleansing organs, especially the liver and spleen. When toxins build up, the immune system reacts to ordinary harmless antigens, such as pollen, dust, and a multitude of other substances. As for cases in which the immune system attacks tissues, one theory posed suggests that the cells of those tissues themselves may well have degenerated and now appear to immune cells as foreign substances and are therefore attacked by the body’s defenses. (See the sections on Allergies and Multiple Sclerosis for an explanation of causes of specific immune disorders.)


General Recommendations

  • Eat a diet rich in whole grains; green, leafy vegetables; roots; sea vegetables; and low-fat white fish.
  • Follow instructions in Part IV for healing liver, spleen, large intestine, and immune system.
  • Adhere to a balanced lifestyle, including ample time to work, play, meditate, and enjoy social activity.


Foods to Eat

  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables, especially green, orange, and yellow vegetables and roots, all of which boost immunity
  • Beans, especially soybeans and soybean products, such as tempeh, tofu, tamari, and miso
  • Seaweeds: small amounts daily to increase trace mineral consumption
  • Nuts and seeds in very small amounts
  • Shiitake and reishi mushrooms are powerful immune boosters
  • Chlorophyll-rich foods, such as microalgae and cereal grasses, are anti-inflammatory and immune-enhancing


Foods to Avoid

In addition to avoiding the following foods, do not eat too much food, do not eat late at night, and eat simple food combinations:

  • Meat
  • Dairy products
  • Alcohol
  • Refined food
  • Chemicalized food
  • Processed food
  • Oils and fats (minimized)
  • Recreational drugs


Herbs to Treat Immune Disorders

  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Garlic
  • Cumin
  • Turmeric
  • Green tea
  • Cinnamon
  • Mint
  • Chamomile


For the more robust individual, decoct equal parts of:

  • Chaparral leaf
  • Pau d’arco (inner bark)
  • Suma root
  • Dried ling zhi (reishi) or shiitake mushroom
  • Peach seed


For someone who is more deficient or debilitated, combine equal parts of:

  • Suma root
  • Dried ling zhi (reishi) or shiitake mushroom
  • Job’s tears seeds
  • American ginseng root
  • Astragalus root



  • Beta-carotene: 15 – 50 mg per day
  • Vitamin B complex

Thiamine: 1.5 mg per day

Riboflavin: 1.8 mg per day

Vitamin B6: 2 – 10 mg per day

Vitamin B12: 2 – 10 mg per day

Niacin: 20 mg per day

  • Vitamin C: 100 – 500 mg per day
  • Vitamin E: 100 – 400 IU per day
  • Magnesium: 400 mg per day
  • Selenium: 20 mg per day
  • Zinc: 15 mg per day



  • Light aerobic exercise four or five times a week; walking, jogging, bicycling
  • Yoga and stretching



  • Meditation, prayer, chanting; daily
  • Social support (see recommendations for the Immune System in Part IV)
  • Journal writing: studies have shown that confessing painful memories, shame, and guilt to a journal can be immune-enhancing
  • Confessing to a friend or counselor painful memories, shame, or guilt can boost immune function and help resolve long-standing conflicts that impair immunity
  • Seek professional counseling