is the link between the brain, the psyche and one's immune system
Psychoneuroimmunology (Psycho-Neuro-Immunology) is the study of the interaction between behavioural (psyche), neuronal (brain), endocrinal (hormones) and immune processes.
From Dr Ader's seminal research in the 1980s we know that the brain and the immune system are connected and that the nervous system is involved in modulating one's immunity. This means that one's mental states affects one's immune system and also therefore, one's overall health. It is so powerful indeed that one's mental state can produce tumours and can cause death.
What is the research and what are the implications for one's personal health?
Dr Ader and Dr Cohen studied behavioural conditioning with rats, focusing on taste aversion. They gave their laboratory rats water, sweetened with saccharine and followed this by injecting the rats with an immunosuppressant (cyclophosphamide) leaving them feeling nauseous. Through conditioning (repetition), these rats learned to avoid saccharin-sweetened water because they associated the sweetened water with their feelings of nausea. When these researchers forced the rats to drink saccharin-sweetened water without the immunosuppressant, they made an astonishing discovery — the rats became very ill. Their rats developed bacterial and viral infections and some died. The rate of death was directly proportional to the amount of saccharin-water the rats drank. This led to the theory that a conditioned stimulus (saccharin-water) can be powerful enough to suppress the immune system, as if they had been overdosed with the immunosuppressant cyclophosphamide. This was one of the first scientific experiments that demonstrated that the nervous system does indeed affect the immune system, as a direct result of a learned experience. Thus, mind alone may influence the immune system which may result in disease. This discovery led to the development of a new field in science — the field of psychoneuroimmunology.
PNI demonstrates how functional problems often stem from emotional problems created in the mind. This gives direction to a novel approach of emotional healing leading to physical wellbeing.
Negative conditioning may result in illnesses and may also manifest as symptoms like headaches, migraines and unexplained bodily pains. It is vital that one filters out negative belief, replacing it with a healthy and positive attitude for life to flourish. Hypnosis is a therapeutic tool that digs deep into the subconscious mind, ferreting out the origins of one's conditioning. It traces the negative inner dialogue to the events and experiences where it first entrenched itself. Like hypnosis, neuro-linguistic-programming (NLP) establishes new patterns of thinking that encourages personal growth and excellence.
I incorporate my studies in biopsychology and PNI to create a holistic plan to help you reframe past conditioning. By doing this, one achieves renewed coherence between mind and body, leading to better health.
The science of psychoneuroimmunology
Ever since the discovery of PNI, major advances have been made in understanding the complicated chemical pathways that it within one's brain and body. Fundamentally, it is the interaction of brain chemistry (neuro-transmitters), brain-body messengers (neuropeptides and hormones) as so eloquently described by Candace Pert (a neuroscientist with NIH USA) in her fascinating book
Molecules of Emotion.
Neurotransmitters: Neurotransmitters are chemicals like serotonin (increased and/or decreased by mood), dopamine (increased by activities of reward and pleasure) and adrenalin (increased by stress and anxiety)that are secreted by the brain in response to one's experiences.
Hormones: Hormones are chemicals, some made in the brain and others in the body, that activate various responses like the hormone ghrelin, our hunger signalling chemical and adrenalin that activates our flight-and-fight response.
Neuropeptides: These brain signalling molecules like interleukins and tumour necrosis factor alpha are involved in one's immune response. Interleukins are a group of cytokines (secreted proteins and signalling molecules) that were first seen expressed by white blood cells (leukocytes). Tumour necrosis factor alpha is a cell signalling protein (cytokine) involved in systemic inflammation. The primary role of TNFα is in the regulation of immune cells. TNF is able to induce fever, cell death and inflammation. Dysregulation of TNF is implicated in Alzheimer's, Cancer, major depression and more.
Stress and other negative mind states (negative inner dialogue) are associated with changes in the amounts of neurotransmitters available in the brain. Stress triggers a chain reaction of releasing glucocorticoids which then initiate the release of corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF), a key player in our stress response. CRF is our mediator for maintaining homeostasis. Continuous overstimulation induces the brain to down-regulate CRF, which reduces our ability to cope with stress and maintain overall wellbeing and health.