Discovered: HOW stress makes you sick – it compromises immune cells, turning their “defense chemicals” on themselves, resulting in inflammation, allergic reactions, increased risk of disease
01/27/2018 // Michelle Simmons // Views

Ever wondered why you get sick whenever you are stressed? A group of scientists from the University of Michigan looked at how stress makes a person sick. The group carried out a rat study in order to determine how the immune cells responded to psychological and allergic stress. There were two groups of rats – one group with stress receptors on their mast cells, and the other with no stress receptors. Stress receptors called corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF1) are responsible for sending signals to certain immune cells called mast cells, which play a role in inflammatory responses. Moreover, they control how they defend the body.

The scientists observed that the group of rats with stress receptors had high levels of disease. On the other hand, the rat group without stress receptors had less disease and were protected from both psychological and allergic stress.

Adam Moeser, an associate professor, explained that mast cells are vulnerable to being controlled by stress receptors when they are triggered during stress. He further explained that this in turn can result to the release of chemical substances that cause inflammatory and allergic diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, life-threatening food allergies, and autoimmune disorders. This means that immune cells turn their defense mechanisms to themselves, causing inflammation and allergic reactions.

The researchers conclude that stress can affect the response of immune cells, which in turn intensifies inflammatory and allergic responses. In addition, they believe that their study is an essential contribution to the better understanding of how stress can make people sick. In addition, they suggest that it can help in the development of new therapies to improve the lives of people with stress-related diseases. The findings of the study were published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.


Manage your stress with these five techniques

Stress is the natural defense of the body against predators and dangers. Short-term stress can be beneficial and serve as a motivator. However, too much of it or chronic stress can already be harmful to a person's mental and physical health. Follow these five tips to help you manage stress.

  • Get moving – There is an increasing evidence that exercise not only provides physical benefits, but also mental one as well. Take a walk, run, swim, or a dance session to relieve stress.

  • Stop frowning – Smiling or laughing can help alleviate stress as the brain is interconnected with emotions and facial expressions. Try watching funny videos or movies or try listening to upbeat music that will put a smile on your face.

  • Socialize – Do not isolate yourself; instead, call or text a friend or someone you trust and whom you feel can understand you. Sharing your concerns or feelings to another person can help relieve stress.

  • Meditate – Meditation and mindfulness can help the mind and body to relax and realign focus. People can release emotions that may have been inducing stress in their bodies.

Find out more about stress and how to manage it at

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