Ask Dr. Stoll

Information About Combining Conventional &Alternative Medicine


Immunity and Stress

This relationship has been long known and can be easily explained for practical use.

There is a reference to a famous study that dramatically related stress to functional immunity. I have lost the exact reference but the story still deserves to be told. If anyone can find the reference, I would greatly appreciate their sharing it with me for my files.

The study was about rabies survivors in rats that had been part of one of the standard rabies studies. As I am sure you are aware, the standard protocol for studying rabies is to inject the rabies virus directly into the brains of rats. Occasionally there is a rat that does NOT contract rabies. Since these rats cannot be used for the rabies study, they have always been considered an anomaly and discarded as useless. The study I read was concerned with these survivors and WHY they did NOT contract rabies.

The researchers in the study I am looking for injected thousands of rats brains with rabies virus. They collected the rats which DID NOT contract rabies. After they had accumulated enough for their purposes, these healthy rats were subjected to stresses: flashing lights, irregular feeding schedules, excessive heat and cold, water deprivation, loud noises, etc. All the rats contracted rabies and died!

Their conclusion was that the rabies virus had indeed been deposited in the brains of these rats but had remained "dormant" because these rats just happened to exist at the upper extreme of the Bell Curve of immunity for rats' resistance to Rabies. Their natural immunity held the virus in check until chronic stress exhausted their resistance. THEN the virus was no longer "dormant" and the Rabies became evident. There had been no additional exposure to the rabies virus!

This, of course, agreed precisely with Hans Selye's famous work with stress-effects on immunity in the '50's and '60's. It also agrees with every article I have read, about the effects of chronic stress on immunity, in the medical literature over the past 90 years.

Unfortunately, there is no money in approaching the problem of AIDS from this direction. Therefore, there is no research money available for seriously placing this before the public (or professional) eye.

The exact same thing happened with Ornish's work when it was reported in the JAMA in the early '80's. Even though more than 90% of bypass surgery candidates were symptom free, within 30 days of starting a 10% fat diet, yoga and aerobic exercise, this information was ignored for more than 10 years. There is just a LOT more money to be made doing heroic intervention than there is in teaching (and motivating) patients to change their diet, learn skilled relaxation, and exercise. Only NOW is Mutual of Omaha and several other "health" insurance companies, starting to pay for the Ornish Plan as an alternative to Bypass.

This is such a wonderful example of the universal benefits of looking at things from a holistic perspective that I have dedicated several chapters in my book to understanding this process in a practical way for the individual.