EFFECTS OF BEHAVIORAL FACTORS
ON IMMUNE MEASUREMENTS

A Harvard study in the seventies discovered receptors on our immune cells for neuropeptides. Neuropeptides are chemicals produced by the brain that vary with our emotions. The results of this study point to the simple fact that your immune system is listening to your mental talk. How you think is how you feel. When someone tells you that you're only as old as you feel, believe it.

You are the master of your immune system. There is no better cure for anything than a good attitude.

Below are the results of a study conducted on students, separated into two sections, negative and positive states.

NEGATIVE STATES 

Bereavement

Decreased lymphocyte proliferation.

Pessimistic states

Decreased lymphocyte reactivity; decreased T-cell effectiveness.

Academic stress

Decreased NK cell activity; decreased T-cells; decrease in certain immune chemicals; increased susceptibility to herpes virus; decreased immunoglobulin A; increased blood levels of Epstein-Barr virus.

Depression

Decreased T-cells; decreased number and function of lymphocytes; decreased NK cells.

Loneliness

Decreased NK (Natural Killer Cell) activity.

Chronic stress

Decreased T-cells; decreased NK cells; decreased B-cells; increased blood levels of Epstein-Barr virus.

Divorce/separation/poor marital quality

Decreased lymphocyte function; increased blood levels of Epstein-Barr virus; decreased T-cell effectiveness.

Expressed need for power and control

Decreased NK activity; decreased lymphocytes.

Negative behavior during discussions of marital problems

Decreased NK activity; decreased macrophages; increased blood levels of Epstein-Barr virus; increase in certain T-cells; decreased immunity by mitogen tests.

 

POSITIVE STATES

Satisfying personal relationships and social support.

Increased lymphocyte function; increased NK activity; increased immunity by mitogen tests; increased immune response to hepatitis B vaccine.

Personal sharing and disclosure of traumatic experiences

Increased lymphocyte response.

Humor and laughter

Increased Immunoglobulin A; increased lymphocyte count and activity.

Hypnosis and relaxation techniques.

Increased T-cell effectiveness; increased NK cell activity; decreased blood levels of stress hormones; decreased blood levels of herpes virus.

Physical exertion and aerobic exercise

Increased number of white blood cells; increase in endorphins; increase in certain immune chemicals; increased NK cell number and activity; increased T-cells; decreased T-cell effectiveness; decreased lymphocyte function.

Group intervention and support

Increased NK cell number and activity; increased number of lymphocytes; decrease in T-helper cells.

 

(Reference: Kiecolt-Glaser, J.K., Garner, W., Speicher, C.E., Penn, G., and Vlaser, R. Psychosocial Modifiers of Immunocompetence in Medical Students." Psychosomatic Medicine 46 (1984).) 

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