The Stress Factor: The Link between Stress and Disease

Have you ever felt achy and sick when you are stressed out? It turns out, many people do. The National Institute for Health (NIH) in cooperation with the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine has released a study presenting their findings about the connection between chronic stress and incidences of certain disease. For many years, it has been widely accepted by the medical community that stress contributes to colds, asthma, and body aches. However, this latest research begins to pinpoint the chemical linkage between stress and disease.

Researchers looked at the inflammatory response in naturally occurring immune cells found in the body. This response is known as GCR, or glucocorticoid receptor resistance. When an infection or disease is introduced into the body, cells respond by becoming engorged in an attempt to kill the invading organisms. This process happens when a cold virus is introduced through contact. When GCR is at increased levels, the inflammatory response is slowed down, meaning that the symptoms of a cold can last longer. Of nearly 300 subjects who reported that they experienced chronic stress in the past 12 months, levels of GCR were significantly raised, leading to a decreased inflammatory response. This increased GCR inevitably leads to longer lasting colds and asthmatic symptoms.

Even if this may an intuitive conclusion, what can be done about chronic stress and the prolonged inflammatory response? The key is to reduce the stress and reduce the symptoms of the disease. In decades past, American medicine has relied largely on chemical controls such as pharmaceuticals to combat stress. However, these drugs can often have unpleasant side effects. Fortunately, in the Garden Grove locale there are alternatives to drugs. Western medicine is just now beginning to recognize the benefits of massage and acupuncture as a means to reduce stress levels, especially in patients that experience chronic stress.

The conclusions of the studies have shown that chronic stress can contribute to the length and intensity of many common illnesses. Alternative forms of care have been proven to relieve stress and may reduce the effects of other diseases as well.

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