Using Your Nervous System to Enhance Your Immune System | Huberman Lab Podcast #44

This episode teaches you a lot about the immune system, immune-brain interactions and offers 12 potential tools for enhancing immune system function. I discuss how our immune system works and science-supported tools we can use to enhance our immune system.

I discuss the innate and adaptive immune systems and our various microbiomes– not just in our gut but also in our nose, eyes and mouth and how to keep them healthy. And I review how specific patterns of breathing and foods maintain a healthy mucosal barrier that is crucial for fighting infections. I discuss how certain neurochemicals called catecholamines enhance our immune system function and how to use specific breathing protocols, types and timing of heat and cold exposure, and, if appropriate, supplementation to activate catecholamines. I also discuss the role and use of serotonin for the sake of accessing the specific types of sleep for recovering from illness, and I discuss how to increase glymphatic “washout” of brain debris during sleep. I also review fever, the vagus nerve and the use of atypical yet highly effective compounds for rhinitis (nasal inflammation).

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00:00:00 The Mind & Immune System, New Findings: Acupuncture & Fascia
00:03:00 Sponsors: ROKA, Athletic Greens, InsideTracker
00:07:41 Foundational Tools & Practices for a Healthy Immune System
00:11:20 Immune System Basics: Skin/Mucous, Innate & Adaptive Immune System
00:17:08 Killer Cells, Complement Proteins (“Eat Me!” Signals), Cytokines (“Help Me!” Signals)
00:21:06 The Adaptive Immune System: Antibodies
00:28:00 Tool 1: Nasal Microbiome and “Scrubbing” Bacteria & Viruses; Nasal Breathing
00:30:33 Tools 2 & 3: (Not) Touching Your Eyes; Gut Microbiome & Fermented Foods
00:34:20 Some Interleukins Are Anti-Inflammatory
00:34:56 Sickness Behavior
00:39:08 Some People Seek Care When Sick, Others Want to be Alone
00:42:00 Sickness Behavior & Depression: Cytokines
00:43:40 Reduced Appetites When Sick: Protein, Iron, Libido
00:46:45 Vagus-Nerve Stimulation: Fever, Photophobia, Sleepiness
00:53:03 Humoral (Blood-Borne) Factors, & Choroid Change Your Brain State
00:55:04 Tools 4, 5: Reducing Sickness: Glymphatic Clearance, Pre-Sleep Serotonin, 5HTP
01:07:03 Tool 6: Hot Showers, Saunas, Baths & Cortisol, Heath-Cold Contrast
01:10:53 Feed a Fever & Starve a Cold (?), Adrenaline
01:12:36 Tool 7: Activating Your Immune System w/Cyclic-Hyperventilation, Alkalinity
01:29:10 Brain Chemicals & Cyclic-Hyperventilation; Catecholamines, Dopamine
01:32:10 Mindsets & Immune Function; Yes, You Can Worry Yourself Sick
01:37:00 Tool 8: Healthy Mindsets, Hope, Dopamine; Tool 9: Tyrosine; Tool 10: Cold Exposure
01:42:05 Once You’re Already Sick: Accelerating Recovery; Tool 11: Spirulina, Rhinitis
01:46:09 Histamines, Mast Cells
01:49:22 Tool 12: Acupuncture: Mechanism for How It Reduces Inflammation; Fascia, Rolfing
01:53:40 Mechanistic Science & Ancient Practices
01:58:00 Synthesis, Ways to Support Us (Zero-Cost), Sponsors, Supplements, Social Media

Please note that The Huberman Lab Podcast is distinct from Dr. Huberman’s teaching and research roles at Stanford University School of Medicine. The information provided in this show is not medical advice, nor should it be taken or applied as a replacement for medical advice. The Huberman Lab Podcast, its employees, guests and affiliates assume no liability for the application of the information discussed.

Title Card Photo Credit: Mike Blabac –