Thursday, February 9, 2012

Psychological Stress, the Adrenals, and the Immune System

What kind of person are you?
Are you the kind of person who just rolls with the punches, doesn’t get upset much by life’s ups and downs? Or you do you find yourself reacting and overreacting to the slightest thing? That would make you either a “low reactor” or a “high reactor”, two distinct types of people, who are affected by “stressors” very differently. High reactors are significantly affected by stress, as shown by a significant increase in heart rate, blood pressure, catecholamines, and CD8 cells which are cells that occur in response to infection.

Catecholamines are hormones produced by the adrenal glands, which are found on top of the kidneys.
Catecholamines are released into the blood during times of physical or emotional stress. The major catecholamines are dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine (which used to be called adrenalin). Low reactors show little or no change in those areas during times of stress (Manuck, et al, 1991). Additionally, studies on monkeys have shown that ulceration showed up most severely during the rest and recovery periods, rather than during the stress period itself (McEwen & Stellar, 1993). Studies by Manuck, et al in 1991 showed that psychological stressors induced cell division among CD8 cells, thereby increasing the number of CD8 cells and suppressing immune function. However, this response was only seen in those subjects who also showed high heart rate change and catecholamine change during the stressors. In conclusion, psychological stress does have a significant effect on the immune system. It raises catecholamine and CD8 levels, which suppresses the immune system. This suppression, in turn, raises the risk of viral infection and illness.

Using natural ways to increase stamina and to stimulate the immune system is a good way to go. Of course, the basics are always a good place to start. Check your diet to make sure you are eating enough fruits and vegetables, especially leaf greens. Monitor your exercise program to make sure is it appropriate for your age, physical condition and the time of year. Make sure you are getting at last 8 hours of deep restful sleep. Adequate sleep is very restorative to the body. Additionally, herbs can really help the body deal with physically and mentally stressful exposures, such as heat, cold, physical exhaustion, viruses, bacteria, chemicals, extreme working conditions, noise, and pollution.

In Health,
Naturally Botanicals, Inc.