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Stress and immunity – What You Should Know and Do

Stress and immunity – What You Should Know and Do

How exactly does stress from the mind end up affecting the immune system?

“Some kinds of stress — very short-term, that last only a matter of minutes — actually redistribute cells in the bloodstream in a way that could be helpful,” says Suzanne Segerstrom, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky who has conducted studies on stress and the immune system. “But once stress starts to last a matter of days, there are changes in the immune system that aren’t so helpful. And the longer that stress lasts, the more potentially harmful those changes are.”

The fight-or-flight response (short-term stress) goes something like this: When a villager in Africa sees a lion charging at him, for example, the brain sends a signal to the adrenal gland to create hormones called cortisol and adrenaline, which have many different effects on the body, from increasing heart rate and breathing to dilating blood vessels so that blood can flow quickly to the muscles in the legs. Besides helping him run away, this type of acute stress also boosts the immune response for three to five days (presumably to help him heal after the lion takes a swipe at him).

When humans experience stress, our bodies react the same way that animals’ bodies do. Once the lion is gone, a zebra or gazelle’s stress level will return to normal, but humans have more trouble getting back to our routines after a stressful event, whether it’s a car accident or a divorce. We’ll think about it, dream about it, and worry about it for a long time, and that sets us up for long-term problems, says Robert M. Sapolsky, a Stanford University stress expert and author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.

Over time, continually activating the stress response may interfere with the immune system. How this affects your disease risk, Sapolsky suggests, depends partly on your risk factors and your lifestyle, including your degree of social support.

Was Grandma right?

immunity-boost-MINIAs we have seen, many studies show that stress can impact different facets of the immune system. Some suggest that stress slows recovery from illness or makes us more likely to catch colds. But can stress actually make us sick, or shorten our lifespans? Our immune systems are so complicated, and a person’s immune response affected by so many factors, it’s understandably a difficult area of study. In addition, it’s hard to find stressed-out volunteers willing to expose themselves to viruses to see if they’ll get sick or not.

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In the meantime, there is enough evidence to convince us that we should find healthy ways to keep our stress levels down, which is advice we got from our grandmothers: Eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep. Start boosting your immunity with this easy guide.  In addition, we now have ample evidence that methods of avoiding or decreasing stress promote cardiovascular health and wellness. Breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, socialization, Qi-gong and Tai-Chi are just a few of the methods that have been proven to enhance quantity of life by managing stress. Try alternative therapies such as Reiki to help you restore calmness into your life.  Create a positive energy space with this unique Healing Lavender Spray and be in harmony with the art of zen living.

“Stress is inevitable,” Spiegel says. “The trick is to learn to manage it, to find some aspect of our stress and do something about it. Don’t think in terms of ‘all or nothing’ but in terms of ‘more or less.’ ”

References

Full Article from Consumer Health Today

Immunity Boosting Guide

Mind Body Green

Interview with David Spiegel, MD, Stanford University

Interview with Suzanne Segerstrom, PhD, University of Kentucky

Suzanne C. Segerstrom et al. “Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry.” Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 130, No. 4, 2004.

Ronald Glaser et al. “Stress-induced immune dysfunction: implications for health,” Nature Reviews: Immunology, Vol. 5, March 2005.

Robert M. Sapolsky. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Third Edition. Owl Books, New York, NY. 2004.

Sephton SE, et al. “Diurnal Cortisol Rhythm as a Predictor of Breast Cancer Survival,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI), Vol 92; No. 12. June 21, 2000.

Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser et al. “Chronic stress and age-related increases in the proinflammatory cytokine IL-6,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Vol. 100; No. 15. July 22, 2003.

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

Ronald Glaser et al. “Chronic stress modulates the immune response to a pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine,” Psychosomatic Medicine, 62:804-807 (2000).

Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser et al. “Chronic stress alters the immune response to influenza virus vaccine in older adults,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Vol. 93. April 1996.

Julie M. Turner-Cobb et al. “Social Support and Salivary Cortisol in Women With Metastatic Breast Cancer,” Psychosomatic Medicine, 62:337-345 (2000).

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

S. Cohen, D.A. Tyrrell, and A.P. Smith. “Psychological stress and susceptibility to the common cold.” The New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 325:606-612

Tim Lee, PhD and Angela McGibbon, MD. Immunology Bookcase: Immunology for Medical Students. Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada.

The Mayo Clinic. Stress: Constant stress puts your health at risk. September 11, 2010.

Graham JE, et al. Hostility and pain are related to inflammation in older adults. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 2006 Jul;20(4):389-400.

Alzheimers Association. Fact sheet: Anti-inflammatory therapy.

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Holistic Healing Team – helps Dying Dog

Healing can take many forms, from a physical cure to an emotional recovery to a step away from struggles and toward peace, wholeness, and freedom. Sometimes healing can also be about letting go.  The journey of letting go can be filled with support in various ways.  The key to healing is how accepting and willing you are.

I come to realize that mind is no other than mountains and rivers and the great wide earth, the sun, and the moon and stars – Dogen

Take a look at the story below, “Jones’s Healing Team”, to see how medical and holistic care come together in healing the last month’s of a Dog’s journey in life.  Healing is not only for Jones the dog, but also for everyone that is involved.  While healing Jones, they have healed themselves too.

When you have done everything, it is because of hope.

The holistic healing team provides the best care possible for healing Jones, a 12 and a half year old cattle dog mix diagnosed with tumors attached to his spleen and at the base of his heart.

The healing Team consists of:

– His veterinarian

– a holistic veterinarian

– an acupuncturist

– an animal communicator

– a Reiki Practitioner

 

Holistic Team Helps Dog’s Last Month – Baltimore Area

By Kathleen Lester, Michelle Dana-Christian, DVM, Theresa Deramo, & Terri Diener

Jones’ Healing Team

Jones, a 12 ½ year old cattle dog mix, was diagnosed with tumors attached to his spleen and at the base of his heart by our veterinarian.  Jones’ only symptom was a cough, and an Xray revealed the terrible news. Knowing that all beings are healed on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels, I tapped into his existing healing team of practitioners and reached out to new ones to create a healing team that would address all levels of his being at this particular stage of his life.  My goal was to provide the best care for Jones that I could, not knowing if the healing was going to turn the cancer around or help him on his journey. Jones’ team included his veterinarian, a holistic veterinarian, an acupuncturist, an animal communicator, and Reiki practitioners.

Biopuncture/ Homotoxicology

Dr. Michelle Danna Christian: During the first visit, I reviewed Jones’ Xrays, realizing the reason for the consistent deep cough was from many metastatic tumors wrapped around his main stem bronchi at the base of his trachea. My physical exam revealed internal bleeding within his abdomen, which indicated that that this was primary tumor,  most likely a hemangiosarcoma, with a risk of rupturing.  Jones also had tumors on his left front leg up to his shoulder.

The allopathic side of me imagined I would be back tomorrow to euthanize Jones; however the holistic side of me was hopeful. Heroics were not an option with Jones’ age and diagnosis, the goal was to give Jones a higher quality of life for a longer period of time. We charted out a treatment of Homotoxicology and Biopuncture, to support his immune system, stop the internal bleeding, and attempt to stop the growth of the tumors, hoping to reduce their size.

I saw Jones 72 hours after the first visit and what a different dog – the tumors on his left leg were 95% reduced, the fluid in his belly was significantly reduced, no longer bleeding, and the entire time I was there, he only coughed once. Jones continued to improve over the next few weeks, the only bad news was that once the fluid was gone from his belly, we could palpate the tumor confirming that it was attached to his spleen and the size of a small football. Regardless, we continued to treat Jones and see amazing results – the tumors on his legs had all but disappeared and the tumor in his abdomen also reduced. Unfortunately the tumor around his trachea was persistent and in week four, Jones’ cough started to get worse.

Acupuncture

Theresa Deramo: I had been treating Jones with acupuncture for his arthritis and general health and well being for over a  year. Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles along an energy pathway or meridian to access and change the flow of qi (energy), increase the blood flow and energy as a way to help the body maintain homeostatic balance. After the diagnosis, I believe it was important to continue with acupuncture to help keep Jones moving, his energy high and his spirit connected.

During our treatments, I offered more palliative care to aid in reducing the cough and keep Jones comfortable. I treated the lung, heart and pericardium meridians to open his chest and calm the cough. I treated the kidney meridian to aid the lung meridian in treating the cough and I treated the pericardium meridian because of its connection to the chest, wanting to unbind the chest as a way to help keep Jones comfortable.  The heart meridian was treated from a spirit or constitutional level to calm the shen or the part of the heart and spirit that allows us to stay settled and connected to our hearts path or journey throughout our life. During my last visit, it was clear that Jones was running out of energy. During this session, I treated the heart one more time as a way to allow Jones to help figure out if he needed to stay or if it was getting near time to say goodbye.

Animal Communication

Terri Diener: I was new to Jones’ healing team, but it was very important to the family that they asked him what he knew about his health, how he was doing and what he wanted for treatment. I find it interesting that so often animals keep their illnesses from their pet parents, as was the case with Jones. During our conversations, Jones said he was very receptive to the biopuncture and homotoxicology and he mentioned that although he had pain now and then, the acupuncture and Reiki were managing his pain.

Jones knew that the cancer was going to cause his death, but as long as he still had joy in each day, he wanted to continue his life. As time went on, even though the tumors were reducing in size, the cancer was tiring him, his cough returned  and he was losing energy. I encouraged the family to do a life review with Jones to let him know how much he has meant to them, as a way of letting him know it was okay if he wanted to go. On the last day, Jones’ had communicated to his family and his team that he was ready, and I confirmed his wishes and said my good byes.

Reiki

Kathleen Lester: As a Reiki Practitioner and Teacher, I wanted to offer as much healing on all levels of his being. When I first heard the news, I put in a request to my healing team of Reiki practitioners, who lovingly sent Jones much Reiki over the last month of his life. In addition, I attuned my husband and stepdaughter to Reiki, so they too could be part of Jones’ healing team.

Jones left us on his own terms, in his own way, because we were willing to hear what he had to say and what he wanted – no machines, no poisons, just natural remedies and as much time to experience joy in every moment. On his last day, Jones went for a walk and played a few rounds of ball in the yard (his absolute favorite sport). As Jones chewed on his marrow bone, we all gathered around him to say our good bye’s, including our dog, Althea, who came over and offered Jones’ one of his “stuffies” and said good bye too.

Jone’s team worked together with our family to offer him the care that he sought, not the care we desperately wanted -a cure. Sometimes the healing we seek, is not the healing we receive. In the case of Jones, I know he affected each member of his healing team, and we are all grateful that he shared his “joy” with us and we in turn will find our own joy in each day.

The Team

Michelle Dana-Christian, DVM— Relief Veterinary Services  & Boston Street Animal Hospital. www.reliefveterinarianservices.com
Theresa Deramo, LAC— Human & Animal Acupuncturist. Essence of Wellness.www.essenceofwellness.net.
Terri Diener, M.S. Animal Communicator & Teacher —Pet Speak. www.petspeak.com.
Kathleen Lester, M.S. Animal Reiki Practitioner & Teacher. www.animalreikialliance.com
Featured image from: http://cdn.acidcow.com/pics/20110628/acid_picdump_07.jpg

*As published in the Animal Reiki Alliance News, Volume III, Issue 1, January 2013.