Biochemical Bases of Suppression
05 February 2020 (online)
A recent literature review provided a number of studies with experimental information to support the phenomenon of suppression proposed by homeopathy. This phenomenon states that when a treatment is focused only towards local symptomatology, it may deepen the disease originating mental symptoms. Since the inflammation process could help understand the suppression phenomenon, this article will describe it in detail. Experimental studies reveal that inflammation is a cyclic process that does not end when the inflammatory stimulus disappears, but when specific mechanisms stop this process in order to return to homeostasis. For example, inflammatory cells can change their enzymatic systems from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory, producing molecules called lipoxins and resolvins. Such molecules cease inflammation, generating anti-inflammatory mediators, promoting the exit of phagocytes from inflammation sites, eliminating chemokines and stimulating tissue repair. Using anti-inflammatory drugs (suppression) to stop inflammation may interfere with this physiological process, continuing with pro-inflammatory cytokine blood levels, such as IL-1, IL-6, IL-18, TNF-α and INF-γ, which activate receptors in the hypothalamus. Once these are released in the brain, they affect neural circuits that regulate behavior. The presence of these molecules decreases the availability of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, increasing their re-uptake and stopping their synthesis by inducing the enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase, which breaks tryptophan, a precursor of these amines. The events mentioned can cause significant emotional changes found in clinical depression, for instance – so much so it has been observed that the severity of depression is proportional to these cytokine levels. This mechanism could support the phenomenon whereby suppression of physical symptoms causes the appearance of mental symptoms, given that the suppression of a local inflammatory process is not solved at its origin.
Keywords: Suppression, mental symptoms, inflammation, cytokines