Your immune system is a beautifully complex system that is consistently stimulated by a variety of factors.
Understanding the various factors that enhance or inhibit your immune function is therefore essential.
Supporting your immune system is not only critical to ‘optimum health’, but paradoxically ‘optimum health’ is critical to the immune system. Over the next month, I plan to focus on ways that you can enhance/ support your immune function and will also list the BIG NO NOS to avoid (which can inhibit it).
Today I want to focus on the importance of stress management and how it can affect your immune system.
Many people fail to realise how vital their minds and attitudes are to the functioning of their immune systems. This is why I’ve listed it as the first step in supporting your immune system. psychoneuroimmunology is the term used to describe the interactions between the emotional state, nervous system function, and the immune system.
Many clinical and experimental studies have shown that the mind and body play a significant role when it comes to our immune system. In fact, personality, attitude, and emotion are etiologic/contributory in suppressing the immune system as well as leading to the development of many diverse diseases. This is why we focus on a personalised and participatory approach at Nature’s Physician because every individual is unique and biochemically different which makes their response to life events different. It a bit like the glass ‘half full’ or glass ‘half empty’ concept. Essentially, it is these differences in response that accounts for the wide range of stress-induced illness. From a basic scientific perspective, stress-induced increases in corticosteroids and catecholamine levels lead to an immunosuppressed state, leaving you susceptible to infectious and carcinogenic illnesses. In fact, 150 clinical studies have shown that stress can alter immune function and contribute to the development of significant disease and poor health.
To help demonstrate the relationship between psychosocial stressors and the development of infectious illness, investigators inoculated subjects with several different types of vaccines to demonstrate clinically relevant alterations in an immunologic response to challenge under well-controlled conditions. For example, the chronic stress associated with caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease or, for younger people, experiencing stressful life events was associated with a poorer antibody response to an influenza virus vaccine than in well-matched control subjects . The premise was a weaker immune response to a vaccine would be equivalent to impaired immune responses to other pathogens (bacterium, virus, or other microorganisms that can cause disease.). Consistent with this concept, subjects who showed poorer responses to vaccines also experienced higher rates of clinical illness as well as a longer-lasting infectious episode.
SO WHAT NEXT? HOW DO I REDUCE STRESS-INDUCED ILLNESSES AND SUPPORT MY IMMUNE SYSTEM
Thankfully, the implementation of stress management techniques, such as humor, laughter, and positive mood have all been seen to be effective in helping to overcome the effects of stress on the immune system.
I love the way one writer puts it “courage, hope, faith, sympathy, love, promote healing and prolong life. A contented mind, a cheerful spirit, is health to the body and strength to the soul”.
The bible also weighs in on this topic with the following wise proverb“a merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).
So what simple steps can you implement today:
One important thing is to try to identify what may be causing the stress and replace any negative coping patterns with positive ones. Some typical negative copying patterns can be:
too much television
dependence on chemicals: legal & illicit drugs.
2. Implement calming techniques that promote a parasympathetic tone. I find this to be hugely successful with clients (we will discuss this in a later blog post)
3. Taking a daily walk outside.
If you are affected by any of the issues above and would like to discuss this further. Contact us today for a free 15 minute discovery call so that we can explore how we can support you.
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 Campeau S, Day HE, Helmreich DL, et al. Principles of psychoneuroendocrinology. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 1998;21: 259-276  1. Campeau S, Day HE, Helmreich DL, et al. Principles of psychoneuroendocrinology. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 1998;21: 259-276. 2. Olff M. Stress, depression and immunity: the role of defense and coping styles. Psychiatry Res. 1999;85:7-15. 3. Padgett DA, Glaser R. How stress inﬂuences the immune response. Trends Immunol. 2003;24:444-448.  ( Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Glaser R, Gravenstein S, et al. Chronic stress alters the immune response to inﬂuenza virus vaccine in older adults. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996;93:3043-3047. 8. Burns VE, Carroll D, Drayson M, et al. Life events, perceived stress and antibody response to inﬂuenza vaccination in young, healthy adults. J Psychosom Res. 2003;55:569-572  MacDonald CM. A chuckle a day keeps the doctor away: therapeutic humor and laughter. J Psychosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv. 2004;42:18-25 add 1. Campeau S, Day HE, Helmreich DL, et al. Principles of psychoneuroendocrinology. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 1998;21: 259-276).  Page 241, Ellen G white ‘The ministry of healing’ The Stanborough Press ltd
 (Textbook of natural medicine, Joseph E. Pizzorno and Michael T Murray, p 574) (Textbook of natural medicine, Joseph E. Pizzorno and Michael T Murray, p 574).