Cognitive behavioral therapy considered most effective for reducing inflammation

A UC research team conducted a review of 56 randomized clinical trials, probing the effects of a variety of interventions including CBT.

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Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is considered to be the most effective treatment for reducing inflammation in the body and improving the immune system, a new study by the University of California found.

As published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Psychiatry, the UC research team conducted a review of 56 randomized clinical trials, probing the effects of a variety of interventions including CBT.

Other forms of treatment intervention included CBT with drug therapy, grief and bereavement support, the combination of at least two psychotherapies, and psychoeducation.

During their analysis of the trials, researchers focused on understanding how the body is affected by non-drug treatments and its effects on chronic inflammation.

When evaluating the different immune outcomes, they noted that pro-inflammatory cytokines were most impacted by CBT. Such cytokines are detrimental for improving physical wounds and battle infections, in addition to inflammation, if chronic enough.

Of all the forms of treatment interventions, CBT was regarded as the most efficient at decreasing inflammation. For the immune system, CBT had beneficial effects lasting for a minimum of six months after treatment intervention.

“Out of all of the interventions we examined, CBT was the most effective for reducing inflammation, followed by multiple or combined interventions,” said George Slavich, co-author of the study. “Moreover, we found that the benefits of CBT on the immune system last for at least six months following treatment.”

“Therefore, if you’re looking for a well-tested, non-drug intervention for improving immune-related health, CBT is probably your best choice.”

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