Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Modulating your own immune response

Date:
May 5, 2014
Source:
Radboud University Nijmegen
Summary:
With the help of simple techniques like breathing exercises, meditation and repeated exposure to cold you can activate the autonomic nervous system and inhibit the response of your immune system. Researchers have demonstrated this and provided the first scientific evidence through a recent study. A well-functioning immune system protects our body from pathogens.

With the help of simple techniques like breathing exercises, meditation and repeated exposure to cold you can activate the autonomic nervous system and inhibit the response of your immune system. Researchers from the Radboud university medical center have provided the first scientific evidence for this in an article published in the scientific journal PNAS.

Related Articles


A well-functioning immune system protects our body from pathogens. But sometimes the immune response is too pronounced or persistent. This can lead to the development of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatism. Our immune system is controlled, amongst other things, by the autonomic nervous system, which is involved in the 'fight-or-flight response'. It was always thought that we could not voluntarily influence either the immune system or the autonomic nervous system. However, experiments from intensive care researcher Dr. Matthijs Kox and Professor of Experimental Intensive Care Medicine Peter Pickkers now demonstrate that this is possible using certain techniques. Importantly, the researchers emphasize that it has not yet been investigated whether these techniques could be effective in patients.

Training

'Iceman' Wim Hof trained twelve healthy young male volunteers for ten days in a number of specific techniques. The training partly took place in Poland where the volunteers learned breathing and meditation exercises and to walk in short trousers through the snow and swim in ice-cold waters. Back in the Netherlands, scientists gave both the twelve trained subjetcs and twelve healthy non-trained volunteers an injection containing endotoxin, a component from the cell-wall of bacteria that elicits a response from the immune system. Pickkers: "By administering a dead bacterial component we are actually fooling the body. The immune system responds as if living bacteria are present in the blood stream and produces inflammatory proteins. As a result of this the subjects develop symptoms such as fever and headache. We can therefore use this approach to investigate the immune system of humans."

Stress hormone

Kox: "The trained men produced more of the hormone epinephrine as a result of the techniques they had learned." Epinephrine is a stress hormone that is released during increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system and it suppresses the immune response. "We indeed observed that in the trained subjects the release of inflammatory proteins was attenuated and that they experienced far less flu-like symptoms," says Kox.

Previous iceman research Iceman Wim Hof is famous for his various records related to cold-exposure. In his own words he can realize these by influencing his autonomic nervous system. In 2011, researchers from Radboud university medical center investigated the response of Hof's body to an endotoxin injection while he was practicing the techniques he had developed himself. He was found to produce less than half the quantity of inflammatory proteins than healthy volunteers who had not mastered his method. Furthermore, he exhibited almost no flu-like symptoms. The result was so remarkable that the researchers decided to carry out a follow-up study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Radboud University Nijmegen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Kox, L. T. van Eijk, J. Zwaag, J. van den Wildenberg, F. C. G. J. Sweep, J. G. van der Hoeven, P. Pickkers. Voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system and attenuation of the innate immune response in humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1322174111

Cite This Page:

Radboud University Nijmegen. "Modulating your own immune response." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140505155210.htm>.
Radboud University Nijmegen. (2014, May 5). Modulating your own immune response. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140505155210.htm
Radboud University Nijmegen. "Modulating your own immune response." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140505155210.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — The Solitair device aims to take the confusion out of how much sunlight we should expose our skin to. Small enough to be worn as a tie or hair clip, it monitors the user&apos;s sun exposure by taking into account their skin pigment, location and schedule. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2015) — Denisa Livingston, a health advocate for the Dinι Community Advocacy Alliance, and the Post&apos;s Abby Phillip discuss efforts around the country to make unhealthy food choices hurt your wallet as much as your waistline. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) — The $12.8 billion merger will combine the U.S.&apos; third and fourth largest pharmacy benefit managers. Analysts say smaller PBMs could also merge. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) — Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins