Inflammation & Stress: The Immune & Lymphatic Systems Introduction


  • Inflammation is a defense response induced by infection or injury. But it may also be induced by tissue stress and malfunction in the absence of infection or overt tissue damage. (Chovatiya R, Medzhitov R., 2019).
  • Inflammation is related to immune system issues.
  • Stress is directly related to the nervous system and the immune system, as described below.
  • Addressing stress and inflammation can help to support the immune system for more optimum functioning.

Connection to Nervous System & Stress

The immune system functions only when the nervous system is in parasympathetic mode.

Stress Puts Immune System on Hold

Of particular interest to us yoga practitioners is how our immune system interacts with our nervous system. When you are stressed out and your nervous system triggers the Fight or Flight response, your immune system is put on temporary hold, as your body has bigger, immediate threats to deal with. Once the danger has passed, and your nervous system switches to the Rest and Digest response, your immune system is turned back on and can once again provide its protective services. – Baxter Bell

  • When stress leads to chronic inflammation that causes heath concerns such as autoimmune disease, it may turn into a vicious cycle where illness, dysfunction or disease lead to more stress, further taxing the system.
  • Soothing stress calms the nervous system. A balanced nervous system will lead to a better functioning immune system and thus more ability to reduce inflammation.
  • Learn more: Nervous System & Stress

Stress Leads to Inflammation Which Clogs The Lymphatic System

When the body is under stress, biochemical and hormonal changes occur. Over time, this stress chemistry contributes to inflammation that can injure cells and create waste. This clogs up the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is also directly stimulated by fibers of the sympathetic nervous system, which is activated as part of the stress response. Studies in mice show that chronic stress can even remodel lymphatic vasculature and lead to the spread of cancer. – Jennifer Weinberg