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MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information
MIND & BODY MEDICINE
Power of the Mind, Immunology & Disease


"For Informational Use Only"
For more detailed information contact your health care provider
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MIND-BODY MEDICINE TOPICS

  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • Chemical Messengers
  • Emotions & Stress
  • The Value of Relationships
  • Can The Mind Cause Disease?
  • Related Holistic Health Links




  • INTRODUCTION


    As recently as the early 1980s, conventional medicine tended to treat body and mind as separate entities and saw them as the concern of distinct medical specialties. However, scientific evidence is now accumulating to support the underlying theory of holistic medicine, which is that the mind and body are inextricably linked, and that the health of one influences the other. This area of research and practice is known as mind/body medicine.

    The possibility that something as intangible as emotion might modify the behavior of cells in the body raises the question of whether psychological factors can actually cause, prevent, or even treat disease. And if so, by what means?


    biofeedback

    Biofeedback demonstrates how the mind is able to influence the body. By monitoring unconscious biological responses with electronic equipment, you can learn to regulate physiological processes, such as heart rate and brain wave patterns.





    PSYCHONEUROIMMUNOLOGY


    Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is the scientific study of the interrelations between the mind (psycho), nervous and hormone systems (neuro), and the immune system (immunology). Interest in mind/body research was started in 1974, when psychologist Robert Ader and immunologist Nicholas Cohen, both Americans, conditioned laboratory rats to decrease their number of natural killer cells in response to a cue of sweetened water - evidence that a connection exists between the brain and the immune system, the body's defense against infection and disease.

    When scientists from different disciplines - psychology, immunology, and endocrinology (the study of hormones) - began to work together, they learned more about hormones and neurotransmitters, chemical messengers from nerve endings that "lock on" to cells in other body systems. They were able to track the pathways linking stress, the brain, and physiological processes such as breathing and digestion. The hormones epinephrine and cortisol, for example, which are produced by the body in stressful situations, were shown to suppress the immune response, the body's defensive reaction to antigens, or foreign substances.


    The Brain

    The brain constantly monitors and regulates billions of electrical and chemical impulses. Neurotransmitters, released from nerve endings, transmit impulses to other nerves and muscles in the body. Research has indicated that emotions may affect this network of communication and help to trigger physical reactions.





    CHEMICAL MESSENGERS


    Research has provided insight into the question of how the brain communicates with the immune system by studying a group of neuropeptides. Neuropeptides are chemicals found everywhere that act as messengers within the nervous system. They enable different body systems such as the endocrine system, which regulates hormones, the digestive system, the reproductive system, and the immune system, to send signals to one another, propelled through tissues as well as through the nerves between them.

    On the surfaces of cells in all these systems are receptors. Each receptor acts as a "lock" for a particular neuropeptide, which slips in like a key and turns on the relevant body process. For example, when laboratory rats are injected with a neuropeptide linked with thirst, they drink continuously even when sated with fluid. Their kidneys retain urine because the message to the body is "want water, save water."

    According to research, emotions may be the trigger that sends a surge of neuropeptides through the body. In 1975, the discovery of a type of neuropeptide called endorphins - natural opiates in the brain that generate pleasurable responses - showed that the brain could actually produce chemicals that change physical reactions. Further research in the 1980s discovered endorphins not only in the brain, but throughout the body, even in the immune system. It has been speculated that as emotions fluctuate - for example, from anger to pleasure - neuropeptides sweep through the body systems in response, signaling physical changes such as a rise in blood pressure or relaxation of muscles.

    Viruses use the same receptors as neuropeptides, so whether or not a virus can enter a cell may depend on how much of the appropriate type of neuropeptide is around to block it. The challenge lies in identifying which emotions are linked to which neuropeptides so that, theoretically, it may one day be possible to evoke a specific feeling to fight a related viral infection.





    EMOTIONS & STRESS


    Emotions, such as anxiety, stress, depression, and loneliness, have been shown to affect the immune system, reducing natural killer cell activity and antibody production. In experiments between 1984 and 1991, researchers obtained blood samples from students before and during stressful events, such as exams, showed that the fighting power of natural killer cells slumped during these periods. Other studies have linked stress with a greater susceptibility to colds, cold sores, and other viral infections. Indeed, traumatic life events, such as divorce or bereavement, have been shown to double the risk of catching a cold.

    According to research in 1987, the antibody levels of students were higher on days when they felt buoyant and positive and lower on days when they felt depressed and negative. Even allowing for the effects of unhealthy living on the immune system, depression has been associated with suppressed immune response (depressed people have a greater tendency to smoke, drink alcohol, take drugs, and eat an inadequate diet than those who have a positive attitude, and they also sleep and exercise less).

    Stressful events can also have a long-term impact. Almost ten years after the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant threatened meltdown in 1979, people living in the area showed suppressed immune responses.

    MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information: Difficult Emotions
    MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information: Dealing With Stress
    MoonDragon's Womens Health Information: Stress





    THE VALUE OF RELATIONSHIPS


    Emotional support from other people may help protect against stress and disease. In further studies, people showing evidence of suppressed immune response included separated or divorced couples and sparring newlyweds. Medical students with plenty of friends produced more antibodies in response to a hepatitis B vaccination than those who described themselves as lonely.

    Epidemiological research, which studies the connection between certain diseases and the population at large, bears out these findings. In 1992, a study of heart patients showed that those without a spouse or confidant were three times as likely to die within five years of diagnosis as those married or had a close friend. Another study found that women with late-stage breast cancer who participated in weekly support groups reported less pain and doubled their survival times. A study in 1993 found that when patients with malignant melanoma had weekly support sessions, that included education, stress management, coping skills, and discussion, they felt better and were more positive, although their defenses showed little change. Six months later, when support groups had discontinued, two-thirds of the group showed a rise in natural killer cell activity and enhanced immune response. Six years later, there were fewer cases of recurrence and higher rates of survival than for other patients. More than any research to date, this indicates that psychological factors may have a role in actually treating disease.

    The mind seems to play a part in autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel disease. While stress and a lack of emotional support may precipitate and exacerbate these conditions, cognitive behavioral therapy, which changes ways of thinking and behaving, can relieve symptoms, including pain and joint inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. In 1964, psychiatrists found that people with an inherited disposition to rheumatoid arthritis, but who were optimistic and positive, did not become ill.







    CAN THE MIND CAUSE DISEASE?


    Can a negative state actually cause disease? Could certain kinds of personality invite illness? A 15 year study by Dr. Stephen Greer at King's College Hospital, London, suggests that women who respond to early-stage breast cancer either with a fighting spirit, or with the kind of denial that gives them space to cope, have less recurrence and longer lives than those who react fatalistically or helplessly. It is less clear whether repeated negative experiences or the repression of anger, frustration, or other strong emotions can contribute to the onset of malignancy. The possibility that individuals may be able to "give" themselves a disease - that conditions such as cancer or diabetes may be due to something they said, did, or did not do, years beforehand - has generated feelings of guilt in patients. So far, there is no convincing evidence to link any ailment a patient may currently have with any changes in the immune system that resulted from a specific event in the past.

    Diseases such as cancer are more likely to result from a complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors, including nutrition. Emotions probably play only a small part in determining susceptibility to serious diseases. Psychological factors can affect survival, but their effect seems relatively small, especially in later and serious stages of disease, or when the immune system is severely compromised, as in AIDS. However, these factors could have a crucial impact on the quality of life and the severity of many chronic diseases. Given a particular set of circumstances, how a patient copes mentally with the stress of these conditions may be significant.







    RELATED LINKS

    MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information: An Explanation of Holistic Medicine
    MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information: The Rise In Popularity
    MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information: The State of Research
    MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information: The Future of Medicine






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    AROMATHERAPY: ESSENTIAL OILS DESCRIPTIONS & USES


    Allspice Leaf Oil
    Angelica Oil
    Anise Oil
    Baobab Oil
    Basil Oil
    Bay Laurel Oil
    Bay Oil
    Benzoin Oil
    Bergamot Oil
    Black Pepper Oil
    Chamomile (German) Oil
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    Calamus Oil
    Camphor (White) Oil
    Caraway Oil
    Cardamom Oil
    Carrot Seed Oil
    Catnip Oil
    Cedarwood Oil
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    Cinnamon Oil
    Citronella Oil
    Clary-Sage Oil
    Clove Oil
    Coriander Oil
    Cypress Oil
    Dill Oil
    Eucalyptus Oil
    Fennel Oil
    Fir Needle Oil
    Frankincense Oil
    Geranium Oil
    German Chamomile Oil
    Ginger Oil
    Grapefruit Oil
    Helichrysum Oil
    Hyssop Oil
    Iris-Root Oil
    Jasmine Oil
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    Longleaf-Pine Oil
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    Myrtle Oil
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    Peru-Balsam Oil
    Petitgrain Oil
    Pine-Long Leaf Oil
    Pine-Needle Oil
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    Rosemary Oil
    Rose Oil
    Rosewood Oil
    Sage Oil
    Sandalwood Oil
    Savory Oil
    Spearmint Oil
    Spikenard Oil
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    Tangerine Oil
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    Thyme Oil
    Vanilla Oil
    Verbena Oil
    Vetiver Oil
    Violet Oil
    White-Camphor Oil
    Yarrow Oil
    Ylang-Ylang Oil
    Aromatherapy
    Healing Baths For Colds
    Aromatherapy
    Herbal Cleansers
    Using Essential Oils


    AROMATHERAPY: HERBAL & CARRIER OILS DESCRIPTIONS & USES


    Almond, Sweet Oil
    Apricot Kernel Oil
    Argan Oil
    Arnica Oil
    Avocado Oil
    Baobab Oil
    Black Cumin Oil
    Black Currant Oil
    Black Seed Oil
    Borage Seed Oil
    Calendula Oil
    Camelina Oil
    Castor Oil
    Coconut Oil
    Comfrey Oil
    Evening Primrose Oil
    Flaxseed Oil
    Grapeseed Oil
    Hazelnut Oil
    Hemp Seed Oil
    Jojoba Oil
    Kukui Nut Oil
    Macadamia Nut Oil
    Meadowfoam Seed Oil
    Mullein Oil
    Neem Oil
    Olive Oil
    Palm Oil
    Plantain Oil
    Plum Kernel Oil
    Poke Root Oil
    Pomegranate Seed Oil
    Pumpkin Seed Oil
    Rosehip Seed Oil
    Safflower Oil
    Sea Buckthorn Oil
    Sesame Seed Oil
    Shea Nut Oil
    Soybean Oil
    St. Johns Wort Oil
    Sunflower Oil
    Tamanu Oil
    Vitamin E Oil
    Wheat Germ Oil





    HELPFUL RELATED MOONDRAGON NUTRITION BASICS LINKS

  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Amino Acids Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Enzymes Information
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Herbs Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Homeopathics Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Hydrosols Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Minerals Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Mineral Introduction
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Dietary & Cosmetic Supplements Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Dietary Supplements Introduction
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Specialty Supplements
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Vitamins Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Vitamins Introduction


  • NUTRITION BASICS ARTICLES

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  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Avoid Foods That Contain Additives & Artificial Ingredients
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  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Guidelines For Selecting & Preparing Foods
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Foods That Destroy
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Foods That Heal
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: The Micronutrients: Vitamins & Minerals
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Avoid Overcooking Your Foods
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Phytochemicals
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Increase Your Consumption of Raw Produce
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Limit Your Use of Salt
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Use Proper Cooking Utensils
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Choosing The Best Water & Types of Water





  • RELATED MOONDRAGON HEALTH LINKS & INFORMATION

  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Information Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutritional Therapy Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutritional Analysis Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutritional Diet Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutritional Recipe Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Therapy: Preparing Produce for Juicing
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Information: Food Additives Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Information: Food Safety Links
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Index
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Articles
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Back Pain
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Labor & Birth
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Blending Chart
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Essential Oil Details
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Links
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Miscarriage
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Post Partum
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Childbearing
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Problems in Pregnancy & Birthing
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Chart of Essential Oils #1
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Chart of Essential Oils #2
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Tips
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Uses
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Health Index
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information Overview
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Health Therapy Index
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Health: Touch & Movement Therapies Index
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Health Therapy: Touch & Movement: Aromatherapy
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Therapy: Touch & Movement - Massage Therapy
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Health: Therapeutic Massage
  • MoonDragon's Holistic Health Links Page 1
  • MoonDragon's Holistic Health Links Page 2
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Nutrition Basics Index
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Therapy Index
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Massage Therapy
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Hydrotherapy
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Pain Control Therapy
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Relaxation Therapy
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Steam Inhalation Therapy
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Therapy - Herbal Oils Index







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