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Protect and Support Your Immune System Through Neuroendocrine Balance

Have you ever thought about how your body actually functions to continuously fight off invaders and foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria?

The answer is… inflammation!

We naturally create an inflammatory environment in order to kill off anything that is detected as foreign by our immune system. There are a number of fancy chemicals involved such as cytokines, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interferon gamma (IFN-γ).

These inflammatory mediators also interact with a number of important neurotransmitters and hormones that the brain and gut naturally produce. These neurotransmitters and hormones work together to deliver messages to the rest of the body. Hence, inflammation can ultimately affect our:

  • mood and emotion
  • mental clarity and focus
  • cardiovascular and respiratory health
  • sleep
  • digestion
  • immune system

Some major neurotransmitters that are involved with the inflammatory process are:

  1. Serotonin: The main ingredient needed to make serotonin is tryptophan. Inflammation causes less tryptophan to be made, resulting in less serotonin. Low serotonin levels can cause: decreased mood, anxiousness, carb cravings, poor sleep, etc.
  2. Glutamate: the brain’s main excitatory neurotransmitter aka it helps us stay awake! Too much glutamate can lead to anxiety, sleeplessness, and irritability.
  3. Dopamine: important for our pleasure and reward system. Dopamine can ultimately decrease an inflammatory response. Dopamine inhibits key molecules that detect foreign organisms.
  4. Cortisol: body’s main stress hormone. This hormone increases as a result of a stress response. It also decreases the inflammatory process at the same time. The downfall is when cortisol is high over a long period of time, this can have an immunosuppressive effect

There is never one depletion of the above neurotransmitters alone. They are all truly dependent on one another. Therefore, treatment of these imbalances must also be thorough and complete.

Overall, we can see both the immune and neuroendocrine system are intricately connected. The balanced communication of these two systems is imperative for a homeostatic state that promotes general good health and function. An imbalance in these systems resulting from disease, stress, injury and/or metabolic changes can lead to significant alterations in immunity and increased risk of infections and autoimmune disease.

Want to learn more about functional medicine? Contact our office today for a consultation to see how inflammation may be impacting you!

Reference:

  1. Taub, Dennis D. “Neuroendocrine interactions in the immune system.” Cellular immunology vol. 252,1-2 (2008): 1-6. doi:10.1016/j.cellimm.2008.05.006
  2. Hansen F. (2018). Adrenal Fatigue and your Immune System. Retrieved from The Adrenal Fatigue Solution: https://adrenalfatiguesolution.com/immune-system/