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Chronic stress

Chronic stress depletes your immune system

Friday, August 09, 2013 by: Dr. David Jockers
Tags: chronic stress, immune system, inflammation

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(NaturalNews) Many experts have hypothesized that increased stress cycles in the body produce the environment for disease development within the body. Stress can come from a variety of sources in the mental/emotional form, chemical nature and physical realm. When the body is under increased stress, it responds by increasing its sympathetic tone. This means the body shunts itself into "fight or flight" survival-based mode by altering cardiovascular & hormonal function to get itself ready for dynamic activity.

When the body is under chronic stress it releases a signal to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. When the HPA axis is triggered it fires out glucocorticoid hormones (cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine) that among other things, increase circulating glucose. These hormones typically terminate an inflammatory response following infection or injury.

Chronic stress creates chronic inflammatory conditions

When the body has chronically elevated cortisol levels due to prolonged stresses it creates a significant decrease in sensitivity to these stress hormones. This is similar to how the body becomes insulin resistant when it frequently has to deal with bouts of elevated blood sugar. It is a classic example of a vicious cycle. Chronic stress creates chronic inflammation which damages cellular receptors for the same stress hormones that would turn off the inflammatory response.

Due to the decreased sensitivity, the body doesn't respond to the stress hormone the way that it should. This state of glucocorticoid resistance (GCR) causes an increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1 beta, interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor. When the body is under chronic stress it is unable to effectively regulate these pro-inflammatory mediators leading to states of chronic inflammation.

Chronic stress makes one vulnerable to acute illness and chronic disease

Elevated pro-inflammatory cytokines are linked with autoimmune conditions and chronic inflammatory conditions. This includes chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. They are also related to anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, insomnia, fibromyalgia, dementia, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, among others.

A large study done by Texas A&M University demonstrated this relationship between chronic stress and immune dysfunction. "People exposed to chronic social conflict experience high levels of stress and consequent dysregulation of the immune system, thereby increasing vulnerability to infectious and autoimmune disease," said lead author Mary Meagher. "The cytokine response during chronic stress appears to play a key role in exacerbating the acute CNS infection and the development of subsequent autoimmune responses."

Another study looked at dental students who had a small wound on the roof of their mouths. The students tested showed they took 40% longer to heal when under the stress of exams. A critical protein, interleukin-1, which signals other immune cells, was found to be more than 60% lower during exam week than during the students summer break.

A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry showed that couples who rated their relationship as "hostile" had a wound healing rate that was only 60% that of couples who had more peaceful relationships. Studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine have confirmed that higher stress levels increase the likelihood of getting the common cold, fever and flu.

Chronic stress creates alterations in normalized and optimal immune patterns

Chronic stress induced GCR is associated with higher levels of neutrophils and lower levels of leukocytes. This shows that the innate immune system upregulates, but the adaptive response lowers when the body is exposed to chronic stress. The body is running inefficiently when it is under chronic stress and this results in energy being diverted towards immediate survival while compromising long-term health and quality of life.

Sources for this article include:





"Severe or Traumatic Stress and Inflammation in Multiple Sclerosis," Mary W. Meagher, PhD, Texas A&M University, Session 1157 -- Symposium: Traumatic Stress, Cardiovascular Disease, Metabolic Syndrome, and Neurodegenerative Disease, August 17, 2007

Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser et al. "Hostile Marital Interactions, Proinflammatory Cytokine Production, and Wound Healing." Archives of General Psychology, Vol. 62, Dec. 2005.

Bruce S. McEwen. "Protective and Damaging Effects of Stress Mediators." The New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 338:171-179.

About the author:
Dr David Jockers is a Maximized Living doctor and owns and operates Exodus Health Center in Kennesaw, Georgia where he specializes in functional nutrition, functional medicine and corrective chiropractic care to get to the underlying cause of major health problems.

His website features great articles on natural health and incredible recipes. He is the author of the best-selling book SuperCharge Your Brain - the complete guide to radically improve your mood, memory and mindset. He has over 50,000 active followers on his social media and email newsletter and is a big influencer in the Primal Health movement.

Dr. Jockers is also available for long distance consultations and health coaching to help you beat disease and reach your health goals. For more information got to www.drjockers.com

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