Substantial research has clearly demonstrated that a wide range of stress can deplete immune system resources and adversely affect neurological and biological communication. This results in abnormal levels of B and T cells, decreased responsiveness of natural killer cells, and fewer IgA antibodies to be secreted in the saliva.
Stress can be defined as “a State of disharmony or threatened homeostasis provoked by psychololgical, environmental, and physiological stressors.” It is invoked as an important part of the normal response to stimuli. Stress should not be thought of as an abnormal reaction since it involves the “fight or flight” principle.
Much of this response is mediated through the hypothalamic-pituitary pathway. It is integrated in the hypothalamus to monitor and control certain functions such as the sympathetic nervous system and endocrine system.
Although stress is generally associated with negative connotations, it is a double-edged phenomenon. The body would not be able to survive without the acute stress response, as it prepares the body for short, emergency responses to potentially life threatening situations.
However, a lingering stress response to non-emergency situations is bad and can lead to chronic health conditions. Stress becomes a hazard to the body when the communication systems of the body are interrrupted or overwhelmed by a variety of physical, chemical, or emotional stressors.
Types and Causes of Stress:
Physical: The primary cause of communication breakdown is nerve interference in the spinal column. When the spine is in it’s proper, structural position, it protects the nerve pathways and allows the nervous system to send and receive information. However, because the spine is moveable, it is also susceptible to various physical stresses and forces which can cause the spinal vertebra to lose their proper, structural position. These spinal misalignments cause abnormal reflexes, loss of normal mechanoreceptor function, and nerve interference, which reduces the overall effectiveness of the communication of the body.
Chemical: There are more drugs designed to suppress components of the inflammatory response than any other single category in the world. In fact, there are more drugs whose primary purpose is to inhibit the normal communication of the nervous and immune system than all other drugs COMBINED. Drugs may result in a temporary reduction of symptoms, but they do little to improve and optimize the actual healing process and often lead to dangerous side effects and immune system system disorders.
Antibiotics have become a popular weapon in the medical arsenal against disease. Although no one would argue with the appropriate use of antibiotics, there is a tremendous volume of research which clearly demonstrates that antibiotics have been grossly overused. Thus, this has resulted in weakened immune systems and stronger bacteria and foreign microbes.
Emotional: There is an abundant body of scientific research to support the concept that emotional stress has a negative impact on the immune system. Thoughts and emotions can trigger complex chemical reactions that affect multiple body systems, particularily the immune system. Periods of intense emotional stress can result in decreased levels of natural killer cells, sluggish killer T cells, and diminished macrophage activity.
At all biological levels (molecular, cellular, organ,) communication between elements is essential for the proper functioning of the system. This communication process is essential to the homeostasis of the body. The foundation of health begins with a properly functioning nervous system to send and receive information. The trend in immunological research clearly demonstrates that restoring, balancing, facilitating and maximizing the communication systems of the body is the key to optimal health and immune function.
If you would like to see where your body’s stress levels are at, contact our office to schedule an appointment.