Researchers believe that interleukin-6 may be a biological link between psychological stress and the severity of cold and flu symptoms. Interleukin-6 -- a protein produced in the body -- helps to coordinate immune responses.
The researchers drew their conclusions after studying 55 adult volunteers who had been injected with influenza A virus. The study subjects were quarantined in a hotel for 7 days during which time the investigators measured the severity of their respiratory symptoms, the amount of mucus production, and levels of interleukin-6. Prior to injection with the virus, the subjects completed questionnaires that measured their levels of psychological stress.
The researchers found that volunteers who reported greater psychological stress before being inoculated responded to infection with more intense symptoms, greater mucous production, and higher concentrations of interleukin-6 in their nasal secretions.
Psychosomatic Medicine March 1999;61:175-180
Dr. Mercola's Comment:
There is no question that our ability to cope with stress is one of the major influences that contributes to disease. It is interesting to note that science is now documenting some of the details of how this occurs.