Your Immune System and How To Work With It

Stress is the cause of all disease, if you define stress as adapting to some situation in the past rather than being fully present and adapting to the present circumstances. Think about it, if you were fully able to adapt to your environment, no matter what was being thrown at you, bacteria, viruses, tigers, lions, lightning, bullets, etc by dodging them or being strong enough to withstand the onslaught, then you would not get sick or injured. Certain common sense practices like washing your hands frequently and limiting physical contact during times of pandemics, are signs of a healthy active immune response at the macro scale.

At the micro internal scale, there are also practices that can support and stimulate a healthy active immune response. Current thinking holds that the human autonomic nervous system ( that part of our nervous system that operates automatically below our level of consciousness to run our bodies) operates in various combinations of the rest and digest (parasympathetic) response; the fight or flight (sympathetic) response; and the freeze, or curl up in a ball and hide response. When a persons body is being stimulated by their fight or flight or freeze nerve pathways, their internal immune system shuts down. (This response is an old evolutionary response. When one is fighting off or running from predators or remaining absolutely still to hide for dear life, the body puts all its resources into those activities.) One doesn’t want to be putting resources towards fighting off a cold virus, or digesting breakfast, when there is a more immediate threat to survival. If a person is chronically in a predominately fight or flight response or freeze response their internal immune system is functioning sub par. A major goal in holistic healing is to encourage the body to appropriately spend more time in the rest and digest or parasympathetic state.

It is now known that our minds influence our autonomic nervous system. An easy experiment you can do is to take a few deep breaths, then, think of something you love… notice how your body feels, especially notice how your chest feels as your heart opens, your mind chatter may even quiet down. After half a minute or so, now think of something scary or something that you don’t like… notice how your body feels now, how’s your chest feel, what’s your brain doing. Most people can sense a difference. That difference is the difference between the parasympathetic response of the body (love state) and either the freeze or fight or flight response, depending on how you respond to fear. If you can’t sense a difference, or would like to experience the love feeling more, there are daily exercises you can do encourage develop and maintain your bodies ability to stay in the rest and digest parasympathetic autonomic nervous system mode which encourages optimum immune system function. By the way, a good acupuncture or craniosacral therapy treatment can reset your autonomic nervous system also.

The” Basic Exercise” of holding your interlaced palms on the back of your head that is demonstrated in the video on our web page is a quick simple way of switching off the freeze response in ones body. My current favourite exercise for developing the bodies ability to appropriately regulate the autonomic nervous system, i.e. ramp up an immune response when necessary, relax, or run away from the tigers when necessary, is the Wim Hoff Breathing Technique. I personally found out about this technique in January and have been practicing daily since. It is very powerful and anecdotally I can say that I have felt an oncoming cold go away when , at the first hint of some acheyness and chills, I started doing the breathing and after about a half hour I just felt a welling up of energy in my body and the cold was pushed out. Here’s the link to Wim Hoff’s web page with his free mini course to learn the breathing. I feel that my overall sense of well being has improved since doing this, and I feel much less stressed, stronger and more socially engaged.

Good Luck, Stay Healthy and Save, David Knox