Stress related diseases account for 60-90% of all doctor visits. Stress is a significant contributing factor to the majority leading causes of morbidity and mortality in Australia. The body’s inbuilt stress response triggered by the sympathetic nervous system, has an opposing affect, the relaxation response [RR]. The RR triggered by the parasympathetic nervous system is associated with healing states and decreased neurogenic inflammation (Esch, Fricchione & Stefano 2003).
MindBody interventions connect and stimulate the active state of the brain for healing. Earlier intervention has been associated with greater clinical success due in part, to a dynamic balance (Esch, et. al. 2003) and greater neuroplasticity. Esch et. al. (2003), highlight that the dynamic balance occurs in response to nitric oxide [NO], and high levels of sustained NO contribute to chronic disease.
NO is only one part of the multi-factorial pathogenesis of AD and other stress related skin disorders. It has been shown the hormone cascade from the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal axis (increased corticotrophin releasing hormone, adrenocorticotrophic hormone, neuropeptides and glucosteroids) and sympathetic nervous system activation is present in patients with AD (Suarex, Feramisco, Koo & Steinhoff 2012; Bae, Oh, Park, Noh, Noh, Kim & Lee 2012). This cascade influences the synthesis of serotonin, an agonist of keratinocytes, melanocytes and dermal fibroblasts.
RR interventions as complementary therapy can be linked to reductions in AD severity, increased quality of life, better coping strategies, decreased night time disturbance and daytime functioning. Progressive muscle relaxation [PMR] therapy has been identified as an effectual non-pharmalogical intervention for AD (Bae et. al. 2012). One month of PMR therapy has shown a decrease in sleep disturbance (p<0.001) and social anxiety (p=0.005), where no change was seen in control groups. Interestingly, serum levels of nerve growth factors, neuropeptides and cytokines were not necessarily linked with anxiety, and both control (n=10) and intervention (n=15) groups showed no clinically significant improvement pre and post test. The small number of participants is a limitation of this study, but adds to the growing body of literature reviewed by other authors.
Non-pharmacological intervention co-therapy for patients with atopic dermatitis and itchy skin disorders appears to be promising. Providing relaxation techniques as complementary therapy can improve stress related skin disorders. If you are interested in attending 4 progressive muscle relaxation sessions over 4 weeks with our Registered Nurse Alex, call us today on 1300 123 368.
Bae GB, Oh SH, Park CO, Noh S, Noh JY, Kim KR & Lee KH 2012. Progressive muscle relaxation therapy for atopic dermatitis: objective assessment of efficacy. Acta Dermato-Venereologica, vol. 92, no. 1, pp. 57-61.
Esch T, Fricchione GL & Stefano GB 2003. The therapeutic use of relaxation response in stress-related diseases. Medical Science Monitor, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 23-34.
Saurez AL, Feramisco JD, Koo J & Steinhoff M 2012. Psychoimmunology of psychological stress and atopic dermatitis: pathophysiologic and therapeutic updates. Acta Dermato-Venereologica, vol 92, no. 1, pp. 7-15.