Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Can Treat Chronic Inflammation(University of California et al.,2020)


Purpose and Background of the Study

People who suffer from chronic inflammation usually receive medication.
However, drug therapy is expensive and can cause side effects.
Therefore, researchers decided to examine the treatment of chronicinflammation through psychotherapy in this study.
Specifically, the study was conducted from the following two perspectives.

  • Whether psychotherapy can affect the immune system
  • When possible, which method has the most beneficial effect in the longterm?

Inflammation in the body is not only caused by unhealthy eating habitsand lack of exercise.
Psychological stress is another major cause.
So the researchers hypothesized that psychotherapy might be able tohelp with inflammation in the body too.

Research Methods

Type of StudyA Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials
The object of the meta-analysis56 clinical trials conducted in the past.
Total number of samples4060 people
The credibility of the studyVery High

Research Findings

The findings of the research are as follows.

  • Basically any psychotherapy will improve the immune system in the body.
  • Compared to those who did not receive psychotherapy, psychotherapyimproved the immune system by 14.7% and reduced immune System runawayby 18.0% .
  • The most effective psychotherapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy is particularly prominent in its abilityto reduce inflammatory cytokines.
  • The effect of CBT on the immune system lasts for at least six monthsafter treatment.


Inflammatory cytokines are essential for the repair of the human body.
However, persistently high levels of inflammatory cytokines increasethe risk of disease to heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer'sdisease.
So, CBT can also lower your risk of getting sick from heart disease,cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

The study showed that psychotherapy can not only improve our mentalhealth, but it can also have a positive impact on our bodies.
If you have chronic inflammation or other immune system issues, CBTmay also be worth a try.


Reference PaperGrant et al., 2020
AffiliationsUniversity of California, Davis et al.
JournalJAMA Psychiatry
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