Psycho neuro immunology ! You can use your mind to heal your body.
That’s what new studies are saying!
Psycho-neuro-immunology is the interactions between psychology, the Central Nervous System and the Immune System. Studies say the mind and the body share bi-directional influences.
The Nervous System uses neurotransmitters (dopamine, amino acids) and hormones (estrogen, cortisol) as messengers. Whereas, the Immune System uses small proteins called cytokines (interleukin, interferon) to interact.
Similarly, the happy hormone dopamine helps in promoting recovery speed or sleep. Research further shows that dopamine helps regulate your mood, appetite, digestion, learning, and memory.
Expecting improvements in health can strengthen one’s immune system.
Psycho-neuro-immunology hints at a possibility of all diseases to be related to the mind.
Miraculous cures of Psycho-neuro-immunology
In 1981, An American businessman Morris Goodman crashed an aircraft at Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. It was a fatal accident but he survived. However, his spinal cord got crashed and he was paralyzed.
Even after top-quality treatment for three months, all he could do was blink his eyes. He wasn’t even able to breathe without a tube. The doctors had almost given up hope. They thought the best he could get was life in bed.
However, Goodman wasn’t ready to give up. He started to practice affirmations. Though he could not move an inch physically, mentally he made himself stronger to believe that he could walk again.
A few months later, to everyone’s surprise, Morris started walking again, much like a normal person. This was a miraculous case that reestablished the role of mental power in physical healing.
There are many such cases where doctors see remarkable progress in patients who maintain a positive mindset. From battling last stage cancer to overcoming physical hurdles, such miraculous cases have blazed the tabloids time and again.
Also Read: Why functional Tic-like behaviour is rising?
Psycho-neuro-immunology – Placebo Cure in Modern Medicine
The connection between the central nervous system and the immune response is also seen in the cases of placebo cure. A placebo is anything that seems like a real medical treatment but isn’t.
In placebo, the mind is tricked to trigger self-healing!
Ayurveda, naturopathy, energy healing and faith healing has used this for millennia. These streams of medicines have used the power of the human body to self-heal. And this has been successful in curing many deadly conditions.
And over the years allopathic doctors have also realized the importance of placebo. Many modern doctors use placebo regularly to help their patients heal. A 2013 survey amongst Allopathic Doctors in the UK showed astonishing results.
The survey showed 97% of the 1,715 doctors surveyed use a placebo to cure their patients. 78% of them use placebos at least once a week. This survey revealed that doctors routinely use the power of the mind to heal their patients.
How placebo affects the brain?
The brain reacts to the thoughts you feed.
And I am not talking philosophically but it’s scientific!
Brain imaging studies saw measurable changes in the neural activity of people experiencing placebo. The brain stem, spinal cord, nucleus accumbent, and amygdala implicated stimulation.
Strong positive expectations of a patient from treatment showed an increase in dopamine and opioid receptor activities. Both of these chemicals are involved in reward and motivation pathways in the brain.
Conversely, nocebo i.e. negative expectations of the patient regarding a treatment resulted in a more negative effect than the normal. This is particularly true in case of experiencing side-effects of treatment like cancer.
The effect of placebo or nocebo is particularly evident in certain cases. Healing after surgery happens a lot faster if the patient is resilient. But when the patient emits fear it impacts their healing or even results in complications after surgery.
Such findings show that thoughts cause neurological changes. It affects those areas of the brain that are often targeted by anti-depressant drugs.
Also read: Mental Stress and diabetes
The mind’s impact on health
There has been multiple evidence all around us that show the mind’s impact on health.
- Broken heart – It’s very common to see many individuals dying shortly after their partner’s demise. This is clear evidence of the mind impacting the heart.
- The gut – The stress of the mind can impact the gut. This can result in symptoms like gastrointestinal disorders, inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome
- Cancer – A patient’s outlook and their psychological support can hugely impact the outcome of their treatment.
- HIV – Studies show that elevated levels of stress and diminished social support accelerates the progression of HIV infection.
- Skin – Elevated stress can aggravate skin conditions like psoriasis, and eczema.
- Wound healing – AsI already stated, the speed of healing of a surgical patient is linked to psychological factors. Fear, distress, depression and anxiety showed significantly delayed healing. Positive outlook speeds up the same.
Also Read: Mindful eating for a healthy body
Psycho neuro immunology in Ayurveda
Ayurveda is the ancient Vedic science of health and healing that takes a holistic path to care. It defines health as a combined state of the Sharira (body), Indriya (senses), Sattva (mind) and Atma (Soul).
Thus, Ayurveda very well explains that health is an intertwined concept of the mind, body and spirit. Charaka’s Adhyatma Dravya Guna Samgraha very well explains this new evolving concept on the healing power of the mind.
From time immemorial Ayurveda has been treating psychosomatic diseases. Over the years allopathic doctors have also realized the importance of mind-body medicine.
Psycho neuro immunology – The future of healing
Healers have leveraged this interlink between the mind and the body for millennia.
But there has never been a scientific explanation to this.
Ayurveda very well stated the connection between the mind, body and spirit. But there was not enough research or scientific evidence to validate the texts of the scripts according to reductionist science parameters.
Healers of traditional medicines have used this effect for years. In the past, mental healing cured chronic conditions like epilepsy, erectile dysfunction, anxiety, chronic cough and various pains. Even during the early days of the pandemic people recovered even without an evidence-based drug.
It’s an old notion that a positive outlook can help stave off illness. However, it’s only in recent years, Psycho neuro immunology has become a new area of research. It studies the direct effect of brain activity on the immune system.
The way in which the brain impacts the immune system is complex. And researches in psycho neuro immunology might now help find the answers to many such questions. How exactly the interaction between the brain and the immune system happens? To what extent can the mind influence the process of healing?
It’s just a matter of time and I am sure there will be scientific evidence to back this link. What Ayurvedic practitioners have been saying for aeons will soon be recognized in mainstream medicine.