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The most common cause of death for all sickle variants and for all age groups in Sub Saharan Africa is infection. Infections are the precipitating factor for crises in many parts of Africa, as opposed to the United States.
Question: Does having SCD (HbSS) protect against malaria? Answer: Not in our experience.
In fact, if anything, they seem to be even more susceptible, and with infection comes the increased risk of developing crises, be they hemolytic or infarctive (vaso-occlsive).
There’s no question SCD sufferers have weakened immune systems, and there are at least three main reasons for that…but let’s just leave it at that for now.
The standard medical approach towards infection is the use of prophylactic anti-malarials and anti-biotics. There’s even talk of vaccines.
As one who is all too familiar with the devastating effects the indiscriminate use of antibiotics can have on brain development and function (not to mention the ongoing risk of developing drug resistance), I would be inclined to sound a cautionary note.
Our Solution? Strengthen the Immune System…
In other words, “Make the Immune System Large and Strong, and bacteria, viruses, malaria parasites, yeasts, and other harmful organisms will ‘bankrupt’ themselves in trying to cause illness in the individual.”
The last two or so decades have brought increased understanding of the immune system: how it works; how it responds to threats from within and without the body, how the different cells within it communicate, and what they need to keep them functioning well.
Here’s what we know: Certain bioactive substances have been found to safely boost the activity and strength of immune cells. Many of these are made up of polysaccharides, or sugars, which have shown great promise, both in research and practice…as demonstrated in the two videos here.
I particularly like this example (a special thank you to Nathaniel and his mother for giving us permission to share their story) because you can actually see the difference, both in the physical appearance and in the attitude of the young man (he certainly seems more positive).
I’m very happy to report that the success continues, as Nathaniel and his brother have kept in touch with us while they’ve been away in college. Neither has had a crisis since.