Until recently, medical science considered the immune system to be an independent, self-regulatory system. But, with the discovery of psycho-neuro-immunology, the role of our thoughts and emotions in healing has gained much prominence. In the 4th and final article of this series, we share how you can build the mind-body bridge with positive thinking.
People have always experienced that their state of mind, positive thinking and outlook with respect to stress levels have a direct impact on their health. But, such reports were usually treated as anecdotes, rather than indicators of the mind-body connection. Since there was no tangible linkage between the central nervous system to the immune system, it was argued, “For a body to fall ill, the immune system needs to break down. What’s the mind got to do with it?”
What’s Positive Thinking Got to Do With The Immune System?
The breakthrough discovery of brain chemicals (neuro-transmitters) changed this forever. Candace Pert, through her work, proved conclusively that our feelings and emotions produce specific neuro-transmitters in the brain. These carry and circulate these emotional imprints throughout our entire body. Pert calls these neuro-transmitters ‘molecules of emotion.’ (For more on neurotransmitters, please click here.)
From a holistic and integrated perspective, the interesting aspect is that our immune system recognises these ‘molecules of emotion’. It knows when to mount an appropriate response.
- When we feel danger or anger or any other negative emotion, our immune system detects the specific chemical agent as threatening. Henceforth, it galvanises itself to launch an immune response.
- And when we feel peaceful or joyous or any other positive emotion or a positive thought, our immune system detects the specific agent as non-threatening. It is not distracted from its normal functions of protection and repair.
Just as the brain transmits emotional imprints through chemical messengers to the body’s other systems (e.g. immune and endocrine system), these other systems also produce messengers which send specific chemical messages back to the brain.
In other words, there is a constant flow of two-way communication between the nervous system, the immune system and the endocrine system. It is influenced by our emotional state and mediated by a set of bio-chemical messengers through the ‘super-highway’ of the bloodstream.
Psycho-neuro-immunology (PNI) can be called as Positive Immunity
This exciting field is called psycho-neuro-immunology (PNI). As the name suggests, its governing principle is that our psychology (thoughts/ feelings/ emotions) is linked to our neurology (our bio-chemical brain) which is linked to our immunology (readiness of our immune system.) Candace Pert calls it, “the science of mind-body medicine,” which proves how and why it works.
PNI is beginning to show scientifically what Eastern wellness traditions have always known and what mind-body practitioners have long suspected. The body is not independent of the mind, in fact, they are one entity: Body-mind, just like space-time or matter-energy. A holisitic approach coupled with buckets of positive thinking can help save the day.
Maintaining a positive frame of mind during the cancer journey is easier said than done.
- What steps can you take to stay away from the negativity that can so easily creep in?
- List down 5 different activities and thoughts that can help you create your ‘happy space’.
- How open are you to getting help from a cancer coach or counsellor?
- Look back at situations, when your mental attitude helped you overcome an adversity. How can you leverage this to heal from cancer?
More from this series
|Title||About the article|
|A Little Known Marvel||While there exist innumerable disease agents inside and outside of us (bacteria, viruses, toxins, cancer cells etc.), nature has also provided us with an in-built defence system which is constantly at work.|
|How It Works||The immune system mainly functions through a highly specialised group of cells that travel to every nook and cranny of our body through our blood and lymphatic system.|
|Dealing With Cancer||According to available research, an average person typically has around 70 cell mutations in their lifetime. Any one of these mutations could lead to cancer … and yet, a large majority of them don’t.|
|Mind Body Bridge||Until recently, medical science considered the immune system to be an independent, self-regulatory system.|