Well, I was really hoping someone else would respond because CAM for MS can undoubtedly be a lightning rod topic. In many places in the US, I would guess that anything that is not a CRAB drug may be categorized as CAM. I’m definitely with you in not promoting any particular CAM. If exercise and meditation (as a way to help manage stress) are considered “CAM”, I have “experience” with those. I’m hoping they’ll help in the management of my MS.
The cover story of the September 27th issue of Newsweek here in the US recently featured The New Science of Mind and Body
and they covered the placebo effect as well as limited references to the immune system that you noted. It starts
From anger to optimism, our emotions are physiological states. The brain, as the source of those states, offers a potential gateway to other tissues and organs—the heart and blood vessels, the gut and even the immune system.
Now, you’ve given me a great opportunity to post my personal biases about stress and the immune system. In April, Medical News Today http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/index.php?newsid=7398
reported: Stress affects hormones which affect immune system which alters mental and physical disease
A panel of experts speaking at Experimental Biology 2004 reports on new understandings of the mechanisms and pathways through which the body’s hormonal response to stress alters immune system function and influences susceptibility, onset and exacerbation of mental and physical diseases, including autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis….
How does stress create damage? Dr. William B. Malarkey, Ohio State University, describes how the perception of stress activates the interface between the endocrine (or hormonal) system and the immune system, initiating a cascade of physiological events. If the perception of stress is short-term, these hormonal changes fade away.
But if the stressful sensory input persists, the resulting dysregulation of the immune system initiates an inflammatory state that, if not stabilized, leads to symptoms and then established disease processes….
As the immune system modifies in response to hormones produced by stress as perceived by the brain, it produces soluble factors that affect the brain itself….
Unfortunately, it’s my impression most of the research about stress and MS has been investigated from a psychological perspective, instead of from a perspective that recognizes this “cascade of physiological events”.
The news article did lead me to the Ohio State University Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research http://medicine.osu.edu/ibmr/about.html
Even without a scientific background, there seems to be quite an impressive list there of articles on stress and the immune response and stress-induced immunomodulation, including: Social stress and the reactivation of latent herpes virus type 1; Acute stress enhances while chronic stress suppresses immune function in vivo: A role for leukocyte trafficking; Chronic stress down-regulates growth hormone gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of older adults; Bidirectional effects of stress and glucocorticoid hormones on immune function: Possible explanations for paradoxical observations; Stress induced immunomodulation: Implications for infectious diseases; Autonomic and glucocorticoid associations with the steady-state expression of latent Epstein-Barr virus; stress associated immune modulation: Relevance to viral infections and chronic fatigue syndrome
and on and on.
Now, I haven’t read any of these and the full references are available at the link, I’m just trying to make a point, (can you tell?
) with stress and MS, I personally think it’s the physiology and not the psychology that should be front and center in the research on MS and stress.
And, back to the beginning, I personally think there are a variety of “CAM” approaches to reducing stress that PWMS might want to consider, especially if they think there’s a link between their MS and stress.
FYI also, the US has a National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Information about their clinical trials for MS (very limited) can be found at http://nccam.nih.gov/clinicaltrials/mul ... erosis.htm
Preliminary information about the yoga trials is available. (It was a news article here a while back.)
And, a university in California has initiated a clinical trial focused on stress and MS but I don't know what approach they're taking for the stress reduction.
That's all for now. Here's wishing you and everyone else a stress free day.
It may help.