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The power of mind. Experiments, studies, researchesYou are here: Home> Articles> Experiments
THE POWER OF MIND - Experiments, studies, researches
The pioneers of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) studies were Janice Kicolt-Glaser and Ronald Glaser. They measured the number of the leukocytes in the blood of a group of students,before and after the exams. The study has shown that the students had a lower leukocyte count after the exams, arguably as a result of stress associated with them.
Read more about stress and health
In her PhD thesis, Barbara Peavey examined the influence of relaxation with biofeedback on the number of neutrophils, which are an integral part of the immune system. The results had no increase in the number of whit blood cells but the improvement in their activity was significant.
An interesting experiment in psychoneuroimmunology was conducted by Schneider, Smith and Witcher in 1984.
They explained the role of the immune system to a group of students and told them that they can effectively influence it through visualization.
After the 6th training it was apparent that many students were able to significantly affect the number of their neutrophils. Those white blood cells interact with antigens, bacteria and viruses and participate in formation of the inflammatory process in the place of injury.
Read more about the power of imagination
In 1983, Smith and McDaniel have started to conduct studies on the psychological regulation of immune processes. In their experiments a group of patients was subject to hypnosis and suggestion, which resulted in inhibition of type IV hypersensitivity reaction (Mantoux test).
Read about hypnosis and Placebo effect and autosuggestion
This experiment has lead them to a hypothesis that a patient who regularly practices meditation or can enter the state of hypnosis independently should be able to consciously influence their immune system. This hypothesis was however yet to be verified.
In the following experiment, the subject was a woman who has been practicing meditation and other eastern techniques every day for 9 years.
The study was conducted over a period of 9 weeks and the result confirmed the hypothesis - a person who is aware of their psychological influence on their body and who knows adequate techniques to achieve this can freely manipulate their immune responses. They can consciously affect the reaction of leukocytes to infection and inhibit the disease. Their mind becomes the key to their self-healing.
Read about meditation's effects
CONDITIONING OF THE IMMUNE SYSTEMThe first experiments on conditioning were conducted by a Russian physiologist – Iwan Pavlov (1849-1936).
He gave food to his dogs and simultaneously rang a bell. The dogs salivated in response to the food stimulus.
After a number of trials, the sound of the bell became associated with the view and smell of food strongly enough to evoke salivation even without food being presented to the dogs.
The body can be taught to activate a chosen immune response by instrumental conditioning that involves the immune system. Several important experiments prove this point.
One of them is the Ader and Cohen experiment (Adr, 1982; 1992; 1995).
They examined guinea pigs with a congenital predisposition for immune system hyperactivity, leading to lupus. They were treated with cyclophosphamide, which lowered the activity of the immune system.
Every dose of cyclophosphmide was administered in water with sweet-tasting saccharine. After a certain number of doses, animals were administered water with saccharine only, without the drug.
The results have shown that they reacted exactly as they were administeted cyclophosphamide. This has lead to a conclusion that the immune system can be instrumentally conditioned to give a certain response.
This kind of conditioning can also be successfully applied in humans to give specific results that match the patient's expectations. An experiment supporting this statement had been conducted on a 13-year old girl suffering from systemic lupus erythematosus.
Systemic lupus erythemtosus is an autoimmune disorder, affecting numerous organs, including kidneys, heart, skin and nervous system.
The girl as given cyclophosphamide in association with the taste of cod-liver oil and the smell of rose oil.
The conditioning was done in hope that the activity of patient's immune system will be lowered without the need to administer cyclophosphamide, which has a low therapeutic index (it is highly toxic) and has numerous side effects.
After a certain time, the patient started to react to the mixture devoid of cyclophosphamide as if she was administered the drug.
Instrumental conditioning can also lead o disease. For example, in a certain experiment guinea pigs were administered histamine and the asthma attacks were associated with the sound of a bell. After several trials, guinea pigs started to experience attacks of asthma in response to the sound of the bell. (Petzold, Reindell, 1977).
The above mentioned facts suggest that humans can consciously train their own immune systems to react in a desired way for improvement of both their psychological an physical health.