A healthy immune system has more control over the body than preventing you from catching a cold, it also plays an important role in your felt perception of pain.
Simplified version of how pain works: neurons receive information that the body’s receptors perceive as a potential threat. The neurons are transmitted to the spinal cord which processes the information and decides whether or not to send the information up to the brain. If the message gets passed along, it peaks as an experience of pain.
Michael W. Salter, Chief of Research at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, presented research that showed how microglia in mice, which are found in the central nervous system (CNS) along the spinal cord and the brain, play a role in communication with the immune system and also contribute to the body’s overall perception of pain.
Microglia make up 5% - 20% of cells in the CNS. They perform multiple functions, including fighting off foreign threats from bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens; decide on the level of response to potential threats by physically manipulating the connections between neurons; and tell neurons when it’s the end of the line and time to die.
Overall, microglia maintain the overall health of the body’s nervous system; but when the microglia become turned on, there is an observed increased sensitivity to pain in mice - and the research is convincing in assuming the same is true for humans. Salter’s research showed that mice with activated microglia reacted to even a light pressure in a way that indicated a painful experience (quickly pulling away from the pressure), while mice whose microglia was not activated did not react at all.
In their normal state, microglia have many tentacles that are ultra sensitive and constantly feeling their environment for information, like a perceived threat; when activated by an infection or insult to the CNS, these cells pull back their receptors and become enlarged, releasing a brain-derived neurotrophic factor chemical that increases neuron communication to the brain along the spine, starting a process of inflammation in the CNS, and recruiting other immune blood cells. Microglia also helps to regenerate damage done to the tissue, bringing the body back to health.
While it is clear that microglia have key functions when activated, it’s better to keep them turned off by boosting your immune health and preventing an infection and activation of microglia from the start. You can easily support your immune system by eating whole foods that are rich in nutrients; Teramune can help increase your daily exposure to phytochemicals (such as from plants that you would normally never think to cook for a meal), and includes essential oils from the best plants from nature for your immunity
[See more tips from our Natural Immune System Boosting Guide]
- Immune Boosting Essential Oils for the Flu
- Starting a Successful Morning Routine for Immunity
- Great Tools for a Strong Immune System
- Unveiling The Connection Between Immune Health and Pain (Currently Reading)
- Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System