If you open your mouth and look into the back of your throat, you’ll see a lump of tissue on each side that make up your tonsils, assuming you didn’t have your tonsils removed as a child, as was a common practice until the 1970s. Before the early 1970s, tonsil removal was so commonplace that it was almost universal, and kids didn’t complain because they got to eat ice cream afterwards! At the same time, adenoids, patches of tissue that reside in the back of the nasal cavity, were also surgically removed, a procedure referred to as a “T&A” for tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy.
Tonsils Have a Function
The way we look at tonsils has changed dramatically since those times. No longer do doctors rush to yank a child’s tonsils. That’s because tonsils have a useful function – they’re part of your immune system. Far from being “useless” tissue, tonsils are your body’s first defense against bacteria and viruses that enter the back of your throat. This tissue acts as a “gatekeeper” and filter, helping to keep bacteria and viruses that cause infection from gaining a foothold in your body.
How did doctors get it so wrong about tonsils? Tonsillar tissue can swell and become enlarged when doing its job of fighting off infection, and doctors assumed this swelling meant they needed to be eradicated. Unfortunately, if your tonsils were removed as a child, a portion of your lymph tissue went right along with them.
So are kids and adults who have had their tonsils removed more predisposed to infection? A Dutch study compared kids with tonsils and without tonsils, excluding those who had had their tonsils taken out for frequent throat infections or other medical reasons. When the two groups were compared, kids who still had their tonsils experienced fewer respiratory and throat infections. Why might this be?
Although most T cells, immune cells that protect against foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses, are “born” in the thymus, a tiny gland located just above your heart, recent research suggests that T cells may be made outside the thymus gland, by none other than the tonsils. In fact, a study identified 5 different populations of maturing T cells in tonsillar tissue. If that’s the case, tonsils may be even more important for immune health than originally thought.
Sometimes Tonsils Need to Come Out
Tonsillectomy, the removal of tonsils, may be necessary in some cases. Stones can develop in tonsillar tissue and sometimes they can enlarge to the point that they obstruct normal breathing during sleep, a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea. In this case, tonsils need to come out to prevent other problems. As far as infection goes, most doctors don’t push for removing tonsils unless a child experiences strep throat at least 4 times a year. Although not well defined at this point, doctors are more aware that tonsils play a role in infection prevention and shouldn’t be removed unless absolutely necessary.
The Bottom Line
The tissue that makes up your tonsils may produce T-cells just like the master T-cell maker, the thymus, although more research is needed. Whether you have your tonsils or not, make sure you’re supporting the health of your immune system with good nutrition and supplements. Give your immune system the foundation it needs to keep you healthy! The one supplement you must learn more about is BioPro-Plus™. It simply is the supplement you need to take to supercharge your immune system. Check it out here to learn more and get started on this amazing supplement, BioPro-Plus™!
-By Alternative Health Concepts
Acta Otolaryngol. 2006 Dec;126(11):1164-70.
PreventDisease.com. “Removing Tonsils Not Best for Kids”
The Journal of Clinical Investigation. “Evidence for a stepwise program of extra thymic T cell development within the human tonsil” March 1, 2012.