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How to support your immune system & reduce stress-induced illnesses

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[1].

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[2].

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 [3]. 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.


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[4].