Stress & Immunity

Addressing stress is vital to supporting immune function. Conversely, creating a healthy immune system is necessary for appropriately addressing stress. Stress comes in many forms, and each can inhibit the immune system’s effectiveness by both decreasing functions and altering the response.

How does stress affect immune function?  

Stress triggers immune responses. When functioning, the immune system locates and addresses the cause of stress and then responds by signaling tissue repair.

Immune-empowering supplement for all year long

Considering the rising popularity of products such as Emergen-C and Airborne, consumers have shown us the value they place in dietary supplements claiming to provide fast-acting and acute immune system support. OptiMSM manufactured by Bergstrom Nutrition contains adequate substantiation to support its use within for immune system supporting products; however, fast-acting natural allergy relief is an unexplored sector in the dietary supplement industry. The work by Barrager et al. (2002), in which 2.6 g/d of MSM significantly reduced symptoms associated with seasonal allergies, should be explored further. Though histamine response or plasma IgE concentrations weren’t affected in response to the MSM treatment, respiratory measures and energy levels were significantly improved.

Although colds and flu cause noticeable discomfort and disruptions to daily life, it’s also common for people to experience subtle changes in physical health when the immune system isn’t functioning properly. While chronic underlying problems may not be as discernable, the disruptions to daily life are just as damaging and may present as poor sleep, low energy, and impaired concentration.

MSM should be considered for use in product formulations that are marketed to provide natural allergy relief or for emergency use when traveling; specifically highlighting the improved energy levels and breathing that’s been shown to be affected by MSM supplementation.

Immune challenges come from many different places and times. Like most supplementation, immune support should play a consistent and long-term role in one’s health goals.

How does MSM support immune function?

MSM is a small sulfur-based molecule most well-known for its joint support properties, but research has shown that it is unique regarding mitigating oxidative stress. Several studies have shown that it reduces oxidative damage, increases total antioxidative capacity, and maintains glutathione levels.  However, it is unique in that it does not itself soak up damaging reactive oxygen or nitrogen species. Rather it increases the capacity of the body’s natural antioxidant pathways. In other words, it doesn’t do the job for the body, it helps the body do its job better.

MSM has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Research indicates it can reduce the expression of the three primary pro-inflammatory cytokines: IL-1, IL-6 and TNF-α.  However, an initial study also suggests that MSM can bolster the immune system against exercise-induced transient immunosuppression. Essentially, when the immune system is causing too much inflammation, MSM can mitigate the response and decrease damage, but when the immune system is suppressed, it helps bolster the response to fight infections. Some research has indicated that MSM can inhibit inflammatory pathways linked to metabolic disorders or chronic stress.