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PSYCHONEUROIMMUNOLOGY - how your mind affects your healthYou are here: Home> Articles> Psychoneuroimmunology
This article is an excerpt from my course "PsychoNeuroRegulation - how through the mind affect the health"
PSYCHONEUROIMMUNOLOGY - the power of mind
Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is a young branch of medical
science, studying interactions between the nervous and immune systems.
The influences also encompass the endocrine system.
Read about psychosomatic medicine
Psychoneuroimmunologists pay special attention to the influence of stress on the human body, both in health and disease.
The term 'psychoneuroimmunology' was first used by Robert Ader.
Read about placebo effect
Psychoneuroimmunology is a fascinating science because it proves that every sick person is able to accelerate the process of recovery through appropriate psychological training and a healthy person can maintain the state of physical well-being by adopting a certain way of thinking, attitude towards life and mental hygiene.
Read about stress and health
It is extraordinary, because it offers humans the possibility of helping themselves independently of others, in health and disease. Such a tool can significantly alleviate the trauma associated with a health problem as most people need to be conscious that the state of their health is also influenced by their stress levels.
Read about the power of mind - experiments
Due to a specific approach towards the patients, PNI is classified as a branch of holistic medicine (it treats the human body and mind as a whole), although it is also officially acknowledged as an academic science.
Read more about emotions and health
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PNI AND PSYCHOSOMATIC MEDICINEBoth domains: psychosomatic medicine and psychoneuroimmunology talk about ho the mind influences the body. Psychosomatic medicine is however a broader discipline. It does not study the interactions between the nervous and immune systems in detail. Psychosomatic medicine is rather a study of the link between certain psychological states and risk of developing a certain disease.
Psychoneuroimmunology, as indicated by the name, studies the interactions between human psychological experiences, the reaction of the nervous system and and consequences for the immune system. It specifically examines the body responses to stress and propagates supporting the process of healing through using methods that decrease it's level; examples being: autogenic training (developed by a German psychiatrist Johannes Schultz, Jacobson's relaxation technique and meditation. The element of visualization is an important theme.
The majority of practices recommended by psychoneuroimmunologists can be, after an appropriate training, used safely at home by the patient.
Psychosomatic medicine is the mother of PNI. PNI explains the influence of emotional states on human health in a scientific way. The two disciplines overlap and complement each other.
MODULATING THE FUNCTION OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM WITH PSYCHESignals from the cerebral cortex reach the hypothalamus through numerous neural pathways, associated with hippocampus (involved in memory), the limbic system (involved in emotional experience), amygdala and thalamus.
Hypothalamus conveys information from the autonomic nervous system to the brainstem.
It has been proven experimentally that stimulating certain parts of the hypothalamus activates different centers of the sympathetic nervous system, which affects the heart rate, blood pressure, salivation, digestion and blood supply to the skin. (Rossi, L.Ernest “Hipnotherapy. Biological mechanisms of healing”).
The cerebral cortex comprises of numerous parts. One of them is the auditory cortex, responsible for interpreting the auditory stimuli. Another part is the visual cortex involved in interpretation of the visual stimuli.
The auditory cortex reacts similarly to the stimuli from the external environment and to those heard in dreams or imagined. The visual cortex, on the other hand can be stimulated by both external visual stimuli and images seen in dreams or visualized.
This suggests that through listening to relaxing music or visualization in pleasant, friendly environment can positively influence parts of the body supplied by the autonomic nervous system, including the cardiovascular system and digestive system.
This implies that suggestive visualization, through the action of nervous system can have an effect on the whole body.