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Fighting illness naturally

Autumn is a good time to learn to relax and take it easy.

Right after I sent you yesterday’s e-Alert “Debugging Kit,” about fighting the flu by strengthening your immune system, I learned about a new study in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics that demonstrates the positive effect that stress management can have on levels of antibodies; proteins produced by the immune system to fight disease.

UK researchers recruited 43 subjects over the age of 65, who also cared for spouses with dementia (a high-stress duty that’s associated with a vulnerability to colds and flu). Half the subjects attended a stress management course for two months. At the conclusion of the course, all 43 subjects were given flu shots. An additional control group of 43 subjects was also given shots. These subjects were of the same age and relative health, but didn’t provide special care for family members.

50 percent of the stress-management group produced antibody counts believed to be high enough to effectively protect against the flu virus. Only 7 percent of the group that didn’t take the course produced the same high levels of antibodies. Most interesting was the response from the control group. Less than 30 percent of that group matched the best antibody levels of the stress-management group.

In short: Learning how to smooth out those stressful kinks could make for a flu-free flu season.

As the days grow shorter and we advance further into the “bug” season, I’ll keep a lookout for other research and commentary on ways to help make your immune system a strong first line of defense.

To Your Good Health, andGo Ravens!

Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute

“Aging: A Lesson for the Immune System” John O’Neil, The New York Times, 9/23/03,