Inflammation is a natural response of the body's immune system to fight against infections and injuries. However, chronic inflammation can lead to health issues including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, and cancer. Poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, stress, and environmental toxins can contribute to chronic inflammation. Addressing the root causes and adopting a healthy lifestyle can help to reduce inflammation and improve overall health.
The sympathetic nervous system plays a crucial role in regulating inflammation in the body. Upon activation, this system triggers the release of the stress hormone ‘epinephrine’ (also known as adrenaline) into circulation, which induces an anti-inflammatory response. In a recent study, a training program incorporating breathing exercises consistently increased epinephrine levels in the circulation of healthy volunteers.
In subsequent studies, researchers induced an acute inflammatory response in healthy volunteers resulting in the release of proinflammatory molecules called cytokines. Researchers found that breathing exercises significantly increased levels of epinephrine and IL-10, an anti-inflammatory cytokine, and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in circulation. While cold exposure alone did not exert any beneficial effects, it significantly enhanced the immunomodulatory effects of breathing exercises.
Taken together, the results of the study suggest that the combination of cold exposure training and breathing exercises is the most effective approach to attenuating the inflammatory response in healthy young males. The findings also suggest that the immunomodulatory effects of the intervention can be reproduced in a standardized manner, which could pave the way for future clinical trials.
Overall, the study highlights the potential benefits of using a combination of meditation, cold exposure, and breathing exercises to activate the sympathetic nervous system and modulate the immune response. The results also suggest that both breathing exercises and cold exposure training are important components of the intervention and can be used in combination to achieve the most potent effects.
These findings have important implications for the development of new therapeutic interventions for conditions characterized by chronic inflammation, such as autoimmune diseases, cancer, and aging.
National Library of Medicine