PNI…Psychoneuroimmunology

PNI (pronounced psych-neuro-immunology) is my passion!  It is simply the study of the connection between the mind and the body.  Learning about this connection is what saved my life and gave me back quality of life—not just remaining alive.  It is my intention to share with you what I’ve learned, my experiences, the experiences of others, and about the power we have and often give away.

Without realizing it, we already accept this concept.  For example:  We say, “Don’t scare a pregnant woman, because you may hurt the baby.”  Fear is in the mind, yet it produces physical changes in the body.  When frightened, people’s bodies release powerful hormones  (men and women, pregnant or not).  We experience what is called the fight or flight response.  Our hearts beat faster, our blood pressure rises, and we are prepared to either fight or run!  These powerful hormones pass from the mother’s body, through the placenta, into the body of a rapidly developing little human baby.  In a college biology class, we experimented on a frog.  We dropped only one drop of epinephrine (a powerful hormone) on the frog’s heart.  Its heart immediately started beating rapidly.  Under these conditions, it seems very possible that some part of the development of the fetus could go wrong.

Another example when people say about someone with a Type A personality, “Don’t tell so-and-so because he’s liable to have a heart attack!”  Experts differ on the traits of a person with Type A personality.  However, most would agree that such a person is impatient, always short of time, is often aggressive, upsets easily, and as the saying goes, has a short fuse.  Such a person may already have a problem with rising blood pressure or other health issues.  Perhaps this is why studies in various countries around the world have shown that more heart attacks happen on Monday mornings—the beginning of the work week—than at any other time!  By comparison, the shortest number of heart attacks happen on the weekends!

I see my brain as MY Brain.  I see my body as MY Body.  And I am the BOSS!  There are many connections between the two.  All of these connections are influenced by many things, both within and without our bodies and minds.  There is no ONE connection.  This is what makes us humans different; causing different reactions to the same things, and resulting in different ways and lengths of time to heal when sick.

At age 70:

  • My blood sugar is under control naturally
  • My blood pressure is under control naturally

Looking back to when I was very young, I feel that it was destined for me to look to natural things to help heal the body.  Some people go to the doctor and say, “I don’t feel well,” expecting the doctor to know what to do to make us feel better.  We’re given a battery of tests, blood work, sometimes X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs.  The doctors do this to help them identify what is wrong.  Most of the time, it helps.  However, when I was growing up I often had bouts of pain.  The pain could be anywhere:  my eyes, my throat, and/or my joints, but mostly in my abdomen.  I sometimes doubled over from the pain.  Not finding anything wrong, my doctor diagnosed depression.  He gave me B 12 shots!  I soon learned (if I could help it) not to bother anyone about my pain.  I used my mind to conduct the pain outside of my body.  It sounds unbelievable, but I was desperate to rid myself of the pain. (Imagery—subject of a future blog)  Once I was sent to a psychiatrist, who diagnosed that I was in pain because I was not married!  (And he got $75/hour for that diagnosis!)  One doctor I saw in my early 20’s (a gastroenterologist) admitted to me that he knew something was wrong, but he just could not figure out what it was.  I believe it was the not knowing; the fear of what it might be that increased my pain.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid 20’s that I found out it was sickle cell!  This is something with which I was born, and for which there is no cure.  Since finding out my diagnosis, I studied and read what little I could find.  Sickle Cell is not high on the list of priorities for research.  However, I did learn that anyone with ancestors from the Mediterranean could inherit sickle cell—no matter what race they may be (Sickle Cell—subject of a future blog).

After suffering from the flu one year, I was deaf in one ear.  Instead of taking me to the doctor, my grandmother pulled out a box of little bottles from under her bed.  She put a liquid on a cotton ball, and then stuffed it into my ear before I went to bed.  The next morning my hearing was back to normal!  Unfortunately, my grandmother would never discuss what she did that night!

Since the original treatment for lupus did so much damage to my digestive system (although that was 18 years ago), I’ve developed many allergies.  The side effects I’ve had to medications are too numerous to count!  I only take prescription drugs when absolutely necessary.  Using my mind to help control my body has become more and more important.  I’ve learned to watch what I say to myself (Self-Talk—subject of a future blog).  Words are powerful.  Barbara H. Levine wrote a book about just how powerful words can be:  Your Body Believes Every Word You Say.  Reading her book helped me become aware of what I was telling myself, telling my brain—reinforcing the negative instead of being creative and finding positive alternatives (CAM—complementary and alternative medicine—subject of a future blog).  For example, taking pain medication and continuously telling yourself that you are in pain only makes the pain medication have to work that much harder—not only to overcome the cause of the pain, but the medication also has to overcome the directions to your brain that you are feeling pain!

The concept that there are natural ways of healing is not new, and has been around since the beginning of time.  What is new is that we are capable of using the power in our own minds to effect changes in our own bodies!  Our mental powers can be used along with natural ways of healing as well as with our doctors’ prescriptions!  And no one needs a degree to do this!  I studied all the way up to completing half the work needed to earn my Ph.D. before cancer stopped me.  It is now five years that I have been cancer free.  When struck by illness, I tell myself that this is merely my next challenge.  I am the Boss of my brain and body!