Stress and the Immune System: Dr Robert Ader

Thirty five years ago, Robert Ader, PhD serendipitously discovered a key part of our physiology that was not thought to exist.  The story begins with rats drinking water sweetened with saccharine.  Half the rats were simultaneously given low doses of Cytoxan to cause stomach pain.  (Cytoxan is a chemotherapy drug for cancer.)  It was no surprise that soon the rats associated the sweetened water with the pain and refused to drink it.

The experiment, conducted at the University of Rochester in New York State, then continued without the Cytoxan and Dr Ader gave these rats the water using an eye-dropper.  The rats who had never received Cytoxan continued to drink the sweetened water normally.  Unexpectedly, the rats previously treated with Cytoxan began to die from infections at a rate significantly higher than the rats who had never received it.  Considerable investigation was needed to reveal the cause.

Cytoxan, in addition to causing stomach discomfort, suppresses the immune system.  Dr Ader’s work revealed that, after the cytoxan injections, the saccharine water alone suppressed the immune system.  More experiments confirmed that tasting the saccharine triggered the nervous system to suppress the immune system.  Prior to this work, no such neuro-immune connection was thought to exist.  The process was analogous to the placebo effect where taking a sugar tablet you expect to relieve pain triggers changes in the brain that do relieve pain.

This work became the foundation of the field of psychoneuroimmunology which is beginning to unravel the connections between stress, the nervous system, the immune system and diseased organs.  In a cautionary tale for those of us who treat patients with psychophysiologic disorders (PPD), Dr Ader had to defend his work against people who drew unwarranted, unscientific conclusions from his findings.

Sadly, Dr Ader died recently, a few months short of his 80th birthday.  There is more information about his life and career in the New York Times obituary.

Tags: ,

1,960 Responses to “Stress and the Immune System: Dr Robert Ader”

  1. Depending on the sort of curtains fit into your patio window.
    It was made of a good web site, one can find a huge variety
    online at such sites as Amazon for example.
    You want to measure lengthwise and widthwise starting at the
    center of attention at all times. Similarly, there is a wide selection of materials.
    There are huge varieties that you can compare it with various curtains and valances.

    Have a look at my website; how to break a fever

  2. It’s аwesome to pay a visit this web page and reading the viewss of all collеagues concerning this
    article, while I am also eager of getting κnow-Һow.

    Stop ƅy my weblog :: voyance gratuite

  3. Fine way of describing, and nice paragraph to get information concerning my
    presentation subject matter, which i am going to convey in academy.

  4. click says:

    When I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked
    on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I receive four emails with the same comment.
    Perhaps there is a way you can remove me from that service?
    Many thanks!

    Also visit my web blog click

  5. I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your weblog.
    Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up the
    nice quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one today.

    Feel free to visit my web-site: find out here

  6. I feel this is among the most important information for me.
    And i am happy reading your article. However wanna remark on some general things, The web site style is great, the articles is in reality great : D.

    Good task, cheers

  7. Hurrah! At lɑst I ǥot a webpage fгom wɦere I be capable of actualy taкe սseful
    facts гegarding mу study аnd knowledge.

    Also visit mʏ weblog: youu сan try herе (

  8. great points altogether, you just gained a logo new reader.
    What may you recommend in regards to your publish that you simply made some days
    in the past? Any positive?

    Here is my page –

  9. It would be hard to solicit the shoppers for your own personal brand when your competitor acquires it.
    All of these games are a complete sure fire way to kill
    time anywhere you are able to carry your i – Device. As Leornard Nimoy who directed Star Trek 3 and 4 did
    a real wonderful job, Shatner on 5 indicated that he should remain in front from the camera in lieu of behind it.

    My blog post: brave frontier android hack

  10. Link exchange is nothing else except it is just placing the
    other person’s blog link on your page at appropriate place and other person will also
    do similar for you.

Leave a Comment