In a stunning discovery made by the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine, researchers have overturned decades of textbook teaching by determining that there is a direct correlation between the brain and the immune system. For years scientists have been trying to correlate the relationship between the two, yet they lacked the evidence to show how our thoughts and feelings (or neurochemistry) could affect our overall health. This groundbreaking finding could have significant implications on our understanding of how the brain and immune system interact, as well as enable scientists to target the immune system for the benefit of the brain.
What this correlation hopes to uncover is the understanding of how inflammation begins to create—and is responsible for—certain diseases. For instance, with diseases such as Alzheimer's, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and autism, when the immune system is suppressed and inflammation goes up, either diseases are activated in the body or the symptoms of the existing diseases are exacerbated. Why? Because when we’re living by the hormones of stress for extended periods of time, inflammation diminishes and compromises the function our immune system.
“It’s crazy, but maybe we are just multicellular battlefields for two ancient forces: pathogens and the immune system. Part of our personality may actually be dictated by the immune system,” said Jonathan Kipnis, chair of UVA’s Department of Neuroscience.
This exciting new breakthrough in science could explain why we’re seeing so many amazing healings in our workshops. In meditation, as our students move into elevated states of being by embracing feelings of love, joy, gratitude, their future, etc., these feelings drive new modes of thinking. This in turn creates new brain chemistry, brings our brains into coherence, and engenders new synaptic connections—which then influences our bodies in very immediate and direct ways.
As people begin to overcome emotional states that keep them connected to past experiences—as they break out of redundant habits and automatic programs, as well as change certain self-destructive attitudes and beliefs—aspects of their immune system up-regulate genes. This means that their thoughts and feelings are signaling cells within the body’s internal defense system to turn on healthy genes to make better proteins—otherwise known as healthy anti-bodies—as well as a host of other beneficial chemicals to balance and regulate the body. This process in turn reduces inflammation, suppresses tumors, mobilizes enzymes, and so on.
So the next time you sit down to create a better life, a healthier body, or a new experience, just remember that your brain and body have never been separate and the bridge between them is your immune system. You see, your body has always been spying on your brain. So why not use your nervous system—the greatest pharmacist ever—to activate your body’s internal army to create order for you every day? You don’t even need a prescription.
Photos by LuciaJoy