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.

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 August 20, 2014 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 August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 20, 2014) A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is in isolation at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan

Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) A 111-year-old Japanese was certified as the world's oldest man by Guinness World Records on Wednesday. Sakari Momoi, a native of Fukushima in northern Japan, was given a certificate at a hospital in Tokyo. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Residents of Sierra Leone's capital voice their fears as the Ebola virus sweeps through west Africa. Duration: 00:56 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:
from the past week

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