What are Viruses?
By Dr. S. Abayomi Meeks D.Ac., L.Ac., B.S.
Viruses are medically defined as microscopic pathogens consisting of genetic material (RNA or DNA) surrounded by a protein, fat, or glycoprotein coat. Viruses are not cells. They don’t have the components of living cells; therefore, they are not living. Without a host cell, viruses cannot make their own energy or reproduce – they don’t metabolize or respond to stimuli.
Seen through the view of a microscope, a virus will insert genetic material into a host cell and take over its energy and biochemical operations. The cell can – and many times will – lose its ability to function normally. Viruses usually spread by simple contact from person to person or animal/insect to person. Some require sexual contact, others from contaminated food or water. Since a virus is a bundle of chemicals harboring the ability to live by parasitizing a host cell, the variables are immense and almost unknown. So, medically, much is interpreted and assumed. Researching viruses is very complex, using high tech equipment and techniques. And even with all of this viable data about how viruses multiply, who carries it, how it makes people sick or whether (and what type) of antibodies to other viruses may protect against or not – there are still many unknowns about viruses.
On the other hand, if the body’s immune system detects an undue viral invasion, it responds dramatically. First, there is RNA or DNA interference to degrade the viral genetic material. Specific antibodies are produced that bind to the virus to neutralize it. T-cells come to get rid of the virus. Viruses infect specific cell types, for instance, influenza viruses infect respiratory cells; poliomyelitis virus infects nerve cells, etc.
There are many viruses in our environment – some are harmless, slow, rare, latent and active. It’s been known by the medical community since the 1950’s that a myriad of harmless viruses exist in humans and animals. Dr. Louis Pasteur, the “Father of modern genetics,” admitted that a microbe is not entirely responsible for illness but instead it is the biological terrain and the immune system function of the individual that determines disease. In general, viruses must quickly multiply to cause illness since the host’s immune defenses usually rapidly neutralizes the virus and prevents disease when functioning normally. A “slow” virus like HIV can lie dormant in a host’s body for years before activated, but a healthy immune system will not allow it to be reactivated and multiply to cause illness.
There is no way to avoid viruses. We live among them all the time. Just because a virus is found in a human or animal doesn’t mean the virus will definitely be transmitted. For a virus to live, it has to be transmitted to new, susceptible hosts by births or waning immunity. For example, illness such as measles, mumps, and rubella must wait for births to accumulate before they can spread to susceptible children and people with lowered immune function are more susceptible to viral invasion.
To conclude part one of this article, I want you to not panic when you hear about a new virus and a potential epidemic, since fear and stress will also suppress immune function. During these times, you need your body to function at optimum levels with an efficient, quick-responding immune system. Information is power, so stay tuned for part two where I will discuss beneficial viruses and nutrition, herbs, etc. to use to boost your immune system.
Editor’s Note: Dr. Meeks is the owner of the Moyo Health Associates Clinic located at 3515 S. Tamarac St. in Denver, Colorado, Suite #102. He can be reached by calling 303-377-2511 or by emailing Dr.Meeks@netzero.com.