What is immunosuppression? I know it is used in cancer patients, but why would one want to suppress the immune system?

Do homeopathic physicians ever use immunosuppression, or do only allopathic doctors practice this?

  • $\begingroup$ Have you read the Widipedia article or done a simple Google search? Please read up on the vast array of publicly available data, then either edit your question to make it more specific, or ask a new question. $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Feb 25 '14 at 15:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You should edit your question and delete the reference to homoepath as this is not medicine but pseudomedicine (or add a real reference for that). Than remove "allopathic" as this is also homeopathic terminology. There is simply medicine (which is all that works) and pseudomedicine (all that claims to work but fails to proof it). $\endgroup$ – Chris Feb 25 '14 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ Please look up on immunosuppressants.. you'll find all the reasons on why they are used $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Feb 26 '14 at 12:41
  • $\begingroup$ This question appears to be off-topic because the answer is readily available by simple web search. $\endgroup$ – user560 Feb 27 '14 at 2:40

Immunosuppression is not used in cancer, in fact it is typically harmful unless of course the cancer is a immune or white blood cell cancer where suppressing their growth may be helpful. What you are perhaps alluding to is that an adverse effect of cytotoxic chemotherapy used in the medical treatment of cancer can cause immunosuppression.

Immunosuppression is helpful when it is causing more harm than good. The immune system is powerful and sometimes when its fighting an infection it can go a little overboard and cause enough damage to harm someone in the long term. In this case immunosuppression is helpful in preventing too high a response. For example in an organ transplant the recipient's immune system may destroy the new organ, but immunosuppression can prevent rejection.

Another case is when there is an autoimmune or inflammatory condition occurring. Rheumatoid arthritis being an example of the former and asthma being an example of the latter. In these diseases inflammation due to the immune system perhaps targeting our own body cells causes damage to our organs or cells and causes the disease. Immunosuppression here can limit or prevent further degradation or sometimes even reverse damage due to inappropriate immune responses.

Interestingly the human body must keep a good balance between being under and overactive. Certain individuals with better ability to control HIV infections or other infections are genetically more likely to also get autoimmune conditions.

  • $\begingroup$ Referring to immunosuppression in cancer, I would expect him to be thinking of leukaemias or lymphomas. Immunosuppression is actually quite common there firstly because the cancerous cells are most often (in lymphomas always) themselves immune cells and directly affected by immunosuppressive treatment - on the other hand it is a typical part of bone marrow transplantation procedures, which are sometimes the best or only treatment for these conditions. $\endgroup$ – Armatus Feb 25 '14 at 23:59
  • $\begingroup$ Excellent point Armatus. That's what I was referring to in my first sentence but thank you for elaborating it. $\endgroup$ – AndroidPenguin Feb 26 '14 at 0:10

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.