Vibrant Life Chiropractic

Vibrant Life Chiropractic

Stress And Your Immune Response

“Stress and the Immune Response” By Dr. Richard Barwell D.C.

  The nervous and immune systems have a tenuous relationship; yet, both are critical for our survival. What is interesting is that it was not until the 1980s that the medical profession discovered (something that Chiropractors had been saying for years) that the immune system and the nervous system talked to one another.  Their belief up to this time was that they were two independent systems. While viewing a slide of spleen tissue a medical researcher noted the immune and nerve receptors were connected. His publication on this “breakthrough” was not well received by his profession. How many slides of spleen tissue had been viewed over the previous years? Thousands???? This is a perfect example of how a belief can keep us from seeing reality. 

So today we are well aware of the importance of communication between these two systems. While we are inundated with the term “autoimmune” disorders, we need to address how these develop and the role stress plays in the relationship between the two systems. Another factor needing discussion is the concept that we need to boost the immune response.

I will start with some basic understanding of the relationship between the neuro and immune systems. The immune system protects the body from foreign substances, cells, and tissues by producing the immune response which includes especially the thymus, spleen, lymph nodes, special deposits of lymphoid tissue (as in the gastrointestinal tract and bone marrow), macrophages, lymphocytes, the B cells and T cells, plus antibodies. The main job of the immune system is to determine what to safeguard or determine if something is foreign and if so, destroy it. The control factor in this action is the nervous system which has several pathways for communicating the need for immune system responses. Three primary levels are the Hypothalmo-Pituitary-Medulla Axis (HPA), Sympathetic-Adrenal-Medulla (SNS) Axis, and Vagus Nerve (PNS). These are directly involved in the flight/fight or danger response as well. Neurological sensors throughout the body send information to the brain which in turn keeps the immune response informed.


Since the confirmation of the neuro-immune system connection, the field of psychoneuroimmunology has provided a greater understanding of the development of illness and disease. The key factor of health now includes as first and foremost a healthy functioning nervous system. If the Central Nervous System (CNS) is overcome by stressors, the system is not able to provide accurate responses to maintain an optimum internal balance (Homeostasis), which includes the immune system response. If the immune system is placed on emergency call 24/7 due to the overloading of the stressors on the CNS, the immune system losses the ability to determine friend or foe and starts attacking the good cells as enemies. Thus Autoimmune disease!

The second point is the idea that you need to boost the Immune response. Think about this! What is really needed is great neurologic immune system communication! There is a difference between boosting the immune system and making sure it has what it needs to function ideally. Boosting the immune system into hyper-sensitivity leads to autoimmune system issues!  The term “boosting” implies a misconception.


Now let us add the stress being created by all the fear built around the current coronavirus challenges. Do you think this amount of stress does not challenge the nervous system threshold and its relationship to immune response? SO – Eat better, do not overindulge, do not panic, have better sleep patterns, get chiropractic adjustments to help the neurological function, learn to breathe better, and use common sense for public health activities. Stay well!

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