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The Body Mind Connection: Neuropeptides

In the last few years we've seen some extraordinary research in this field coming out of prestigious universities and medical schools and places like the National Institute of Health. About 20 years ago it was discovered, for example, that our thoughts and our feelings have physical substrate to them.

When you think a thought you make a molecule. To think is to practice brain chemistry. And in fact these thoughts are translated into very precise molecules known as neuropeptides. '"Neuro"' because they were first found in the brain. And 'peptides' because they're protein-like molecules. And thoughts, feelings, emotions and desires translate into the flux of neuropeptides in the brain.

You can think of these neuro-peptides like little keys that fit into very precise locks called receptors on the cell walls or other neurons. So the way this part of the brain speaks to another part of the brain is not necessarily in English with an Indian accent, but in the precise language of these neuropeptides.

What was found subsequently, which was absolutely fascinating was that there were receptors to neuropeptides not only in brain cells but other parts of the body. So when scientists started looking for receptors to neuropeptides in cells of the immune system, for example: T cells, B cells, monocytes and macrophages - when they started looking at them, they found that on the cell walls of all these there were receptors for the same neuropeptides which are the molecular substrate of thought.

So your immune cells are in fact constantly eavesdropping on your internal dialogue. Nothing that you say to yourself, which you're doing all the time, even in sleep, escapes the attention of the immune cells. Not only that, the immune cells, it was subsequently discovered, can make the same peptides that the brain makes when it thinks.

Now here we come to a startling finding, because if the immune cell is making the same chemicals that the brain is making when it thinks, then the immune cell is a thinking cell. It's a conscious little being.

In fact, the more you look at it, the more you find that it behaves just like a neuron. It makes the same chemical cords that the brain uses for emotion, thought, feeling and desire. An immune cell has emotions. It has desires. It has an intellect. It knows how to discriminate and remember.

It has to decide when it sees a carcinogen, "Is this a carcinogen? Should I go after it? Should I leave it alone? Is this a friendly bacteria? Should I go after it or leave it alone?" It has to remember the last time it encountered something. In fact it remembers the last time somebody else encountered the same thing.

Your immune cells can immediately recognize anything that has ever been encountered by any living species. If you are exposed to pneumococus for the first time in your life, your immune cells still remember the last time somebody somewhere in prehistoric time encountered a pneumococus and knows how to make the precise antibody to it.

It's not only a thinking cell but it remembers way back into the evolutionary history of not only the human species but other species as well. So you ask a good neurologist the difference between an immune cell and a neuron and they'll say there isn't any. The immune cell is a circulating nervous system.

Now if that wasn't enough of a startling discovery, the subsequent discoveries in science have been even more interesting, because when scientists started looking elsewhere in the body they found the same phenomenon. When they looked at stomach cells and intestinal cells they found the same peptides. The stomach cells make the same chemical cords that the brain makes when it thinks. Of course they're not verbally as elite as the brain, in that they don't think in English or Swahili, but nevertheless, they are thinking cells.

When you say, "I have a gut feeling about such and such," you're not speaking metaphorically anymore. You're speaking quite literally because you're gut makes the same chemicals as the brain makes when it thinks. In fact your gut feelings may be a little more accurate because gut cells haven't yet evolved to the stage of self doubt.

What science is discovering is that we have a thinking body. Every cell in our body thinks. Every cell in our body is actually a mind. Every cell has its own desires and it communicates with every other cell. The new word is not mind and body connection, we have a body-mind simultaneously everywhere.

Article originally written by Deepak Chopra for Lime

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Rich said...

great post! i was never aware of that..

Rich said...

i knew about the way chemicals react the mind when positive or negative thoughts go through.. i saw that on "What the Bleep Do We Know" (good documnetary)..

and all of that is really intriguing in a sense that most people dont know that psycological effects are a result of chemicals flowing through the body... people dont realize how much control they actually have over themselves..

however, i didnt know that the immune system works the same way..

thats pretty intriguing

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