Caregivers and Their Immune System

A Del-Immune V® customer recently sent an interesting article to us from the Wall StreetJournal of, July 1, 2003, titled “Elderly Caregivers Face Stress Toll.” This has become an important issue because we now live longer and have a growing population of seniors. This aging population, combined with current economics, is forcing more and more home care.

Medicare estimates that by 2020, 12 million older Americans will need long-term health care. For 70 percent of them, friends and family will serve as the primary caregivers.1

Supporting the caregiver is a relatively new area of study and is a matter of great concern within the healthcare system. Too often caregivers neglect their own health and well-being, putting their needs on the back burner at a time when they are facing unusual stress levels. One result of heightened stress can be the stimulation of one of the “super highways” within the immune system; Interleukin 6 (IL-6).

Within the immune system there are more than 30 superhighways or Interleukins. Each one has a specific area of activity. In a balanced, healthy immune system, IL-6 activates an inflammatory response that protects our body against foreign invaders. This super-highway is activated in clinical situations that include infection, burns, trauma, and neoplasia (exposure to cancer cells).2

Excessive, sustained or abnormal psychological stress appears to release increased levels of IL-6. The effects of the increased amounts of IL-6 in these situations relates to a large number of clinical conditions that are cited in the medical literature. Two examples are depression3and

autoimmune disease.4 Patients with rheumatoid arthritis typically have elevated levels of IL-6 in their synovial tissue (the tissue between joints).

Dysregulation of IL-6 cytokine (like a switch) signaling contributes to the acute and chronic stages of several diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, and various types of cancer (e.g. multiple myeloma and prostate cancer).5

A study from 2003, conducted by the National Alliance for Caretaking and AARP, found that stress of care giving for persons with dementia has been shown to impact a person’s immune system for up to three years after care giving ends, thus increasing their chances of the caretaker developing a chronic illness themselves. “Twenty-three percent of family caregivers caring for loved ones for five years or more report their health was fair or poor.”6

 

Taking care of you

Care giving for another person can be an exhausting job. Caregivers may sacrifice leisure time, vacations and privacy. Too often, caregivers neglect their own health and well being due to the overwhelming time and cost of scheduling outside help, educating temporary caregivers, etc.

According to a 2006 study, “72% of family caregivers report not going to the doctor as often as they should and 55% say they skip doctor appointments for themselves. 63% of caregivers report having poor eating habits than non-caregivers and 58% indicate worse exercise habits than before care giving responsibilities.”7

 

Where does Del-Immune V® fit into this picture?

Research from the Institute of Microbiology in Kiev, Ukraine demonstrated that Del-Immune V® stimulates the production of interferons, specifically interferons alpha, beta, gamma, and Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha. The interferons are critical to our health because they attack foreign bacteria, viruses, yeasts, and cancers. Laboratory-manufactured interferons are used to treat Hepatitis C.8

Interferon gamma plays a role in modulating, or controlling the production of IL-6. By modulating the IL-6 “superhighway,” it is believed the excessive inflammatory response caused by stress is reduced.

Anecdotal reports from caregivers taking Del-Immune V® state reduced problems with winter germs, an increase in their energy levels, and generally feeling good in spite of the daily stress of being a caregiver.

1 The Cost of Caring; The Rotarian, Sept. 2011. http://www.bio.davidson.edu/Courses/Immunology/Students/Spring2003/Sole/myfavprotien.htm

2 The Effects of Psychological Stress on Plasma Interleukin-6 Activity in Rats. Physiology &Behavior, Vol. 47, pp. 957-961, 1990.

3 Association of Depression with C-Reactive Protein, IL-1 and IL-6: Meta-Analysis. http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/content/7/2/171.abstract

4 Principles of Interleukin (IL)-6-type cytokine signaling and its regulation. Biochem J. 2003, Aug 15; 374 (Pt 1)-20.

5 http://www.nfcacares.org/who_are_family_caregivers/care_giving_statstics.cfm

6 Drs. Janice-Kiecolt Glaser and Ronald Glaser, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, June 30, 2003. Caregiving in the United States; National Alliance for Caregiving in Collaboration with AARP.

7 Drs. Janice-Kiecolt Glaser and Ronald Glaser, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, June 30, 2003. Caregiving in the United States; National Alliance for Caregiving in Collaboration with AARP.

8 Study of the Interferonogenous Activity of the New Probiotic Formulation Del-Immune V®. Immunology and Allergy, 2008, 2, pp. 16-23 (Ukraine)

Leave a Reply