Mind-Body Medicine is a growing field that focuses on the interactions between mind and body and the powerful ways in which emotional, mental, social and spiritual factors can directly affect health. There are a number of scientifically-validated therapies today that help to enhance the capacity for healing through controlling emotions, thoughts, and beliefs. A few of the more common mind-body techniques include meditation, guided imagery, biofeedback, prayer, and affirmations to help control thoughts and feelings. Nevertheless, there still remains confusion and uncertainness on what exactly Mind-Body medicine is, and whether it merits your attention.
Here are the top 5 things you should know about Mind-Body Medicine:
1. It’s based in science
Did you know there’s a whole field of science that is dedicated to Mind-Body medicine? It’s called PNEI, and stands for Psycho-Neuro-Endocrine-Immunology (the more modern understanding of psychoneuroimmunology or PNI). The focus of this scientific field is to study the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body.
PNEI shows us that the mental level is the pathway that carries signals which trigger specific bio-physical actions. Mounding evidence now exists in this field of study which clearly demonstrates and delineates the precise pathways and processes that lead from thoughts, belief systems, and programs in the mind to biochemical actions and symptoms in the body (through the PNEI hierarchy developed by immunologists). Understanding the role of the PNEI system offers us great insight into medicines most prominent questions, such as why patients respond differently in the face of the same triggers.
2. It’s a growing field, and for good reason
There are a number of well-known organizations and reputable institutions that now have dedicated substantial time and resources to better understanding and promoting Mind-Body medicine. These include:
- The Center for Mind-Body Medicine
- The Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and connected with Harvard Medical School
- Mind-Body Medical Courses taught at Stamford Integrative Medicine Center
- NYU Langone Medical Center’s Department of Integrative Health Programs offers Mind-Body wellness treatments and modalities
The research and findings coming out of these reputable centers are confirming the need for increased exposure and awareness of Mind-Body medicine. A recent study posted on Harvard Medical School’s site entitled “Mind-Body Genomics” illustrates just how powerful Mind-Body medicine can be in altering gene expressions.
A new study from investigators at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center finds that eliciting the relaxation response—a physiologic state of deep rest induced by practices such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing and prayer—produces immediate changes in the expression of genes involved in immune function, energy metabolism and insulin secretion.
3. There are sophisticated therapies focused on it
As more and more physicians around the world begin to understand the great importance of a comprehensive approach to healing that goes beyond just the biochemical level, new and sophisticated therapies are being utilized focusing on the body-mind connection.
- Neuro Emotional Technique (NET)
A psycho-emotional therapy based on the physiological foundations of stress-related responses. The goal is to correct the neuro emotional complex (NEC) – imprinted emotional information affecting physiological function.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
Emotional Freedom Technique (or EFT for short) is a psycho-emotional therapy and a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments, but without the invasiveness of needles.
- EMDR Therapy – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
An emotional therapy that is recognized as an effective form of trauma treatment in numerous practice guidelines worldwide. EMDR is clinically proven to accelerate the treatment of a wide range of problems and self-esteem issues related both to disturbing past traumatic events and present life conditions.
Technique that uses the repetition of specific phrases while holding a negative thought, emotion, or experience in the mind; cleansing of certain memory programs occurs.
- Spagyric Medicine
European biological medical modality that incorporates homeopathy, herbology, and pharmacology. These sophisticated and natural medicines have been found by immunologists to work directly on the PNEI level of the body and improve the psycho-emotional state.
4. It can be the X factor to healing complex conditions
The modern day chronic disease is characterized by being a multi-factorial dysfunction with many contributing factors and it is also very individualized, with each person exhibiting different root cause dysfunctions. For this reason, the use of generalized protocols that only work on the physical and biochemical symptomatology of a patient are not enough for complete restoration of health.
In most of the complex chronic diseases that affect a growing number of the population, the factors that perpetuate the disease include emotional aspects. Guilt, fear, and a host of unresolved negative emotions can be the final X factor for healing when all other aspects of the disease have been addressed and yet the disease persists. The use of Mind-Body medicine in these cases can make all the difference.
5. It’s still greatly overlooked by conventional medicine
Even with all the new findings and great minds currently researching and validating Mind-Body medicine, most of the conventional world still turns a blind eye to all of this. A certain unwillingness to move from a pure biochemical approach to treatment persists among many physicians, even as we see rates of many chronic and debilitating diseases (think cancer, autism, heart disease, diabetes, etc.) exponentially rise and reach epidemic proportions.
It requires an open-mind to embrace Mind-Body medicine. And if we are to turn around the great health problem facing today’s society, we’ll need more open-minded Theoretical Rebels to pioneer a change for the better and finally concede to the fact that we humans are much more than machines and our thoughts and feelings are critical to sustained health and longevity.
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