I want briefly to return in this further blog on “our on-board ‘pharmacy’”, to the terms “positive” and “negative”, (to which I made previous specific reference in blog, entitled “Accentuating the positive”, posted on Jan.26 2014). You may recall that we achieved a form of consensus about such terms which ran as follows. As we look out, each through his/her own particular window of hope toward the light; sometimes – as on our wedding day or the birth of a child (always assuming that both mother and baby are well) – that light seems everywhere about us. At other times – as when we have been rocked and stunned by “bad news” in some form – the light may appear as little more than a star on an otherwise dark and moonless night. Either we can settle for and accept the ‘night’ without so much as a cursory scan for any further manifestation of light however small; or we can be vigilant for an approaching dawn. It may at first appear to lead us only into grey and dull days ahead. Nevertheless, our awareness that the sun is still there ready to breakthrough the heavy skies immediately above, does, of its self, possesses inherent power to sustain us.
We have also seen in the last week’s blog on “our on-board ‘pharmacy’”, how the brain applies its own unique ‘prescriptions’; arising from thoughts and feelings (or complex combinations of them) in the form of ensuing behaviour. Interestingly enough, the Greeks of the fourth century BC, believed there to be specific “humours” (fluids) in the body, e.g. blood, bile, phlegm, which, so they held, determined mood state: hence our use of terms such as phlegmatic, bilious and so on. Although this has long since been proved not to be the case, there is equally no doubt that minute quantities of chemical transmitter molecules do play a key role in determining the action of the body’s neuro-immunological defence – or healing – system. It seems likely therefore that various concentrations of neurotransmitter substances in the brain may well impact upon mood and temperament and be implicated in intrinsic healing. In other words, these very transmitter substances or chemical messenger molecules in their several hundreds, amount to a sophisticated “language” by means of which, the body and brain engage in vital and fairly constant communication.
The next question must therefore be; is there evidence to show that how we are emotionally and “in our spirits” so to speak, can and does affect how we are and cope physically? In fact, newly developed molecular and pharmacological ‘tools’ are now being used to ‘tease out’ sophisticated and intricate networks of communication channels between brain and body. It does therefore now seem more likely than ever that the brain may well exert a regulatory influence on immune function and on how well (or otherwise) we handle disease and its consequences. However, the question still remains does it not, as to how this is achieved? Also, what determines the nature and the impact that any given chemical input or combination of such inputs may exert?
One of many credible and exciting answers now increasingly immerging, seems to be “via thought and behaviour”; i.e. every thought, emotion or behavioural act emanating as they so frequently do from entrenched systems of belief, opinion, prejudice etc., delivers its corresponding (or more likely, series of) chemical messages. Indeed, there is a familiar behavioural counterpart, which is widely known and since most folk will sometime in their lives have experienced some form of placebo· effect, let me tell you more about it here: in fact in my very next blog. (C)SB.