How Stress Response Affects Our Immune System

How Stress Response Affects Our Immune System

It should be to no one's surprise that we as a whole are dealing with a bit more than just our usual daily stressors thanks to the issues we are facing in the world and our individual lives right now. Generally, we all know that there's "good" and "bad" stress. So when you are exposed to repeated stress incidents or stressful situations constantly- as we are now-  what can that mean for the rest of our body systems?

Repeated stress may lead to prolonged activation of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis, or HPA axis as it is commonly called (the interaction between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands), excess cortisol, and compromised health effects. Over time, excess cortisol may suppress the immune system, leading to a high risk of inflammatory response.

So What Does That Mean?

There are two stages of Inflammatory Response — Initiation and Resolution. The Initiation phase is the first step of activating our immune response. The Resolution phase is the critical step to counter-regulate initiation, which leads to tissue regeneration. This in turn assists the return to normal body/stress function.  Without strong support of the resolution phase, inflammation can become persistent and prevent a return to normal function.  

The Stress Response

Stressors to our body fall into two categories: psychosocial and biogenic.

Psychosocial stressors are either real or imagined environmental events that “set the stage” for the elicitation of the stress response. Biogenic stressors actually “cause” the stimulation of the stress response. To help with this, our body requires adaptogens; a natural substances considered to help the body adapt to stress and to apply a normalizing effect upon bodily processes.

Adaptogens can specifically help the body to:

  1. Have a higher level of resistance to stress
  2. Support the natural adaptive stress mechanisms at the cellular level
  3. Fine tune the “Switch On" and “Switch Off" systems of the stress response.

Ways to Combat a Poor Stress Response

Adrenal tonics- supplements/herbs that are traditionally used to help promote healthy adrenal gland function, facilitate the body's normal response to occasional stress, and support and maintain the body as it ages- can help to improve the tone, histology and function of the adrenal glands, especially the cortex. 

The following tonics from MediHerb (part of Standard Process) are important and help considerably when you feel that you are not able to "keep up" or if you notice things are starting to take a toll on your stress response and adaptability: Rehmannia • Rhodiola • Ashwagandha.

Immune Support and Stress Support Nutritional Needs

During times of stress, whether it's based on an internal or external condition, it’s important to pursue a whole body approach. Immune support will work better when paired with nutrients to support and aid your stress response.  External stressors can get overwhelming and result in a less-than-optimal immune response.  

There are numerous supplements and tonics that can assist with Immune Support by strengthening your Stress Support needs.

Standard Process and MediHerb offer many helpful supplements like the ones listed below:

  • Min-Tran: Helps to calm anxiety, give you better sleep and aids in muscle relaxation.
  • Drenamin: Pairs well with Min-Tran, encourages a healthy response to everyday environmental stresses and supports immune system response function.
  • Hemp Oil Complex: Can help give a "break" for your stress response. Provides a 3-in-1 benefit for the whole body – supporting the endocannabinoid system, inflammation response resolutions, and endogenous anti-oxidant pathways.
  • Ashwagandha Complex: Can maintain or improve general well-being. Helps the body adapt to the changes of everyday life.
  • Rhodiola & Schisandra: Helps support cognitive function, gives strong clinical mood support, increased resiliency, increased energy and endurance to handle daily stressors.
  • Nevaton Forte: Offers major nervous system support, works quickly to calm the nerves and restore balance in temporary mood swings, helps the brain to "rest."
  • Valerian Complex: Helps with going to and staying asleep, reduces nervous tension, can also help with menopause. It is suggested to take 1 tablet at dinner, and 2 tablets before going to bed for up to two weeks to help specifically with insomnia and sleep maintenance.
  • Kava Forte: Helps to reduce muscle tension, anxiousness, helps to calm the brain and aid in sleep and relaxation.
  • Immuplex: Supports healthy immune function, supports the body’s inflammatory response function.
  • Congaplex: Good for all ages.  Aids in congestion, well rounded immune support, supports the Thymus gland and Lymph nodes. 
  • Thymex: Can be used in conjunction with any of the above listed supplements described here to enhance the properties of each.
  • Andrographis: Helps maintain healthy immune system function, supports healthy respiratory system function and healthy immune system response. Also encourages adaptive response to occasional everyday stress.
  • Echinacea: Safe for expecting moms, best when taken on-going as a part of your regular supplement routine- supports Gut health, healthy immune response, healthy stress response and supports upper respiratory tract health.

If you would like to know if any of these may be able to work for you, go ahead and connect with Joe to schedule a phone consult to see which best suits your body's specific needs. 

Other Ways to Optimize Your Stress and Immune Response

  1.  Try to eat a healthy and balanced diet: With the Stay at Home order in place here in Stratford and our surrounding areas, most of us are cooking every meal at home if we're not ordering out! It's tough for some to cook as often as we have needed to these past few weeks, and it's easy to just graze all day if you're working from home.  It's always good to eat a well balanced healthy diet, but even more so when our daily routines are all over the place. Don't forget to drink enough water for your body every day as well- and remember that every body's needs differ.  It's good to consult your general physician for your specific amount of water your body requires per day!    

    Want some easy videos for cooking healthy? We like these YouTube channels: Holly Clegg's Trim & Terrific Easy and Healthy Rush Hour Recipes and Keeping Up with Liv Healthy Recipes  Please let us know if you have a specific channel you follow for healthy, easy cooking ideas and we will share it in our next email! 
  2. Get a good night's sleep. Sleep is a powerful stress reducer. Following a regular sleep routine can help calm and restore the body, improves concentration, regulates mood, and sharpens judgment and decision-making. You are a better problem solver and are better able to cope with stress when you are well-rested. In fact, melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, is a well known anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative molecule. There have been studies indicating that melatonin is protective against acute lung injury and acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by viral pathogens.

    I like using these meditative videos and prompts to help clear my head from the stressors of the day before I go to sleep: Jason Stephenson's Sleep Meditation Music this links to a specific Release Worry and Sleep meditation, do check out his page to find other helpful meditations for sleep! This links to an 8 hour recording of Deep Sleep Music for Stress Relief: Healing Delta Binaural Beats for Brain Power from Meditation Relax Music's channel.  If you have any favorites, please let us know!  
  3. Keep Moving! It's too easy to sit at home in front of your TV or work station for hours on end (I write as I'm definitely a poster-child for the latter!). Moderate exercise can boost the production of macrophages, the kind of white blood cells that get rid of bacteria and viruses. However, intense exercise can temporarily decrease immune function and increase oxidative stress- so don't over tax your body unnecessarily!

    Here's a few YouTube videos that you can use to keep your blood flowing and your heart healthy!  **Please also keep in mind that if you have specific needs for any physical or health limitations to connect with your General Practitioner before starting any new workouts**  This video by Pamela Reif is perfect for beginners with no exercise equipment at home.  I also like Yoga with Adrienne - there's plenty of different levels from high impact yoga to relaxation yoga, yoga for beginners and more on her channel.  If you have anyone that you like to follow, please share those links with us!  

While we know that there are no known current natural treatments for COVID-19, we are providing this information as a guide to help optimize your immune system overall- being proactive in your health care goes a long way! 

While we are able to order most of the supplements we listed above, some may be on back-order from Standard Process. So please, DON’T PANIC! We will continue to do our best to get your supplements to you as soon as possible. 

We hope we have been able to provide you with some additional ways to start supporting your family’s immune system during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as any other time of the year.