Here in this post, I dig into Th-2 dominance – what it is, and why and how to move out of it. I see many many patients whose immune expression is weighted towards, or dominant in a Th-2 response. The conditions they suffer from are not likely to improve if Th-2 dominance is not addressed. I cannot stress this enough.
When I talk about this, I get blank looks – to be expected because what layperson is versed in cellular immunology? Plus, our scientific and medical understanding of immunology develops every single year, especially this century. Things we discovered even less than 10 years ago are outdated. It’s no surprise that most doctors who aren’t immunologists (which is not even a medical field) may not fully understand Th-2 dominance, how to recognize it, and how important it is to treat. Meanwhile, not addressing Th-2 dominance may foil treatment of conditions in the functional realm such as gut infections, chronic Lyme, mold toxins, and allergies, among others.
Here I break it down to simple basics so that practitioners and laypeople alike can get a basic understanding of Th-2 dominance.
What is Th2 dominance?
Th-2 cells are a normal immune response needed to mount an allergic response to antigens and extracellular pathogens. For allergic responses think IgE antibodies, histamine, mast cells, basophils, and eosinophils. For extracellular pathogens think infections like Lyme or worms. A Th-2 response naturally ramps up inflammation in “hollow space” organs and cavities where immune surveillance is high, including your lungs, nose, sinuses, gut, bladder, and vagina. This response is normal and necessary.
Th2 cells produce inflammatory messengers called cytokines, the predominant one being interleukin 4 (IL4). Ideally, you can mount a Th-2 response temporarily when needed. The problem is that the presence of IL4 directs your immune T helper cells to keep maturing into Th-2 cells, which easily creates a perpetual feedback loop that can make you stuck in a Th-2 response. This is Th-2 dominance.
how to know if th-2 dominance is present
Chronic infections or inflammation in these hollow spaces signify Th-2 dominance:
- Lungs: asthma, wheezing, pleuritis, bronchitis, frequent respiratory infections
- Nose and sinus: congestion, runny nose, allergies, frequent colds or sinus infections
- Gut: food intolerances, colitis, Crohn’s, frequent small bowel bacteria or fungal (as in candida) overgrowth, leaky gut, dysbiosis, amoebic parasites like Giardia
- Bladder: frequent infections, irritation, urge to urinate frequently, interstitial cystitis
- Vagina: irritation, frequent bacterial or yeast infections, vulvodynia
You can test and look for:
- Histamine back up
- High eosinophil count (higher than 1% of your white blood cells)
- High basophil count (should be 0)
You can also take inventory of other factors that create Th-1 cells….
Things that push Th-2 dominance
There are many factors that drive Th-2 expression, including:
- Mold toxins
- Expanded viral load – think herpes, cold sores, shingles, Epstein Barr virus (EBV).
- Chronic infections like Lyme
- Stress chemistry
- Allergies & histamine
another big problem with Th-2 dominance
If you are primarily making Th-2 cells then you can’t make Th-1 cells. This is a BIG problem. To back up for a moment, this post introduced T helper cells and the four ways that naive T cells (CD4+ T cells) can mature: Th-1, Th-2, Th-17, and T-reg cells. Here is a visual review:
One very important thing to wrap your mind around is that Th-1 and Th-2 are oppositional. You can’t express both at once. Th-1 cells suppress Th-2 cells and vice versa.
and Why is a Th-1 response important?
The next post is about Th-1, but in brief, you absolutely need to make Th-1 cells in order to fight all microscopic infections – think all bacteria and viruses. In addition, Th-1 cells can help suppress autoimmunity.
This means that another indicator of Th-2 dominance is the inability to fight infections and pathogens. This means you may:
- Get colds and the flu often
- Not easily recover from colds, flu, or sinus infections
- Experience colds quickly turning into lung infections
- Have deeper chronic viral infections – shingles, herpes, EBV
- Not be able to clear small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, candida, or other microscopic gut infections
- Get frequent vaginal or bladder infections
another reason to address Th-2 dominance
If you are trying to combat generalized inflammation, or quell an autoimmune flare, you must get yourself out of Th-2 dominance first and foremost, else your anti-inflammatory protocol may not work.
Furthermore, if you take natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric, before shifting out of Th-2 dominance, you run the risk of making your inflammation worse! Does curcumin or turmeric do nothing for your inflammation or even make it worse? This may be why.
What to do about Th-2 dominance?
Evaluate the things that push Th-2 cells, and mitigate them. This may mean managing stress, clearing toxic burdens, lowering your antigen load from pathogens or from the environment – get help with this!
Use natural things that down-regulate the Th-2 response. These includes:
- The herbs Perilla and Astragalus
- The supplements NAC and quercetin
- This supplement called Th-2 Modulator
- The supplement Oxymatrine
Promote Th-1 cells, which is especially desirable in cases of infections. This is the subject of the next post.
I welcome your input below,