Stimulation of Immunity by Natural Products

The immune system, including pulmonary immunity, can be nonspecifically stimulated in an antigen- independent manner by natural immunostimulators studied extensively in pre-clinical and clinical investigations. For example, nonspecific immunostimulators for treatment of bacterial infections have been reported but not extensively studied for therapeutic effects vs. traditional antibacterial therapy with antibiotics or specific protective vaccines. Nevertheless, it seems likely that stimulation of nonspecific innate immunity may be prophylactic and enhance resistance to pulmonary infections. Relatively nontoxic microbial components, as well as synthetic compounds, nonspecifically stimulate a protective antimicrobial immune system. For example, studies in the last few decades with natural products from plants resulted in nonspecific enhancement of both cellular and humoral immune responses to many microorganisms, especially innate immunity (Masihi, 2000). Additionally, various nutritional substances also have been studied in regards to increasing resistance to various microbes. Substances as diverse as those obtained from chili peppers, garlic and even honey extracts have been used for centuries as traditional remedies for infectious diseases. Similarly, a high resinous "propolis" product collected by honey bees from various plant sources has been a popular folk medicine and evinces a broad spectrum of biologic activities, including antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties (Banskota et al., 2001; Khalil, 2006).

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