Inflammation: Part Two.
The essential life process that may be killing you!
In my last article I discussed the basics of the inflammation and some nutrients that help facilitate and regulate this vital systemic body process.
Today, I’d like to take an introductory look at a concept with a big medical name, psychoneuroimmunology. You knew doctors would have to find a complicated name right?
Interestingly, psychoneuroimmunology may just be a medical catch-all for something doctors have poo-pooed for decades, placebo effect! Why is it that 30%-90% of people in medical studies show improvement, whether or not they get an actual medicine?
The answer? Psychneuroimmunology (also, psycho-neuro-endocrinology).
Psychneuroimmunology is the human organism’s physiological response to attitude and emotions. And it is REAL! Years ago an excellent book by a university professor called Who Gets Sick? quoted reputable medical authorities saying than “any doctor who does not study and use so-called ‘placebo’ effect in his practice should get out of medicine!”
In fact, the NIH, National Institutes of Health, that regulates medical research in the US, recently called for intensive study of the implications of ‘placebo’ in medical studies because the new meta-analysis reviews of major medications are indicating that placebo has a far greater effect in medicine and healing than anyone has ever believed. Even 60 years of so-called “Gold Standard” double blind studies are being questioned. Why? Placebo effect.
So, what does this have to do with us and our personal illness challenges?
Well, there are basically four categories of cause in illness:
- Physical Trauma
- Emotional Distress
When you are dealing with chronic illness, you tend to have all of these factors over the years you are coping with your illness, but here is where it gets interesting.
Modern medicine (and, unfortunately, those “holistic-alternative-complementary-natural” therapists who model their treatment philosophy from Western medicine) is heavily weighted towards an acute-care model. Basically, this means a “symptom” oriented treatment paradigm. It goes something like this:
- Identify the presenting symptom
- Find the immediate cause
- Make a clinical Diagnosis
- Follow standard treatment protocol
Now, if you have been in a car accident and have a ruptured spleen or a broken leg, this is the ideal medical model. It’s the one we see on TV Emergency Rooms. It’s quick and exciting! No one, (including me!), is going to their friendly neighborhood acupuncturist for emergency care of internal hemorrhaging!
You want your doctor to quickly identify the symptom, find the cause, make the diagnosis and follow the surgical protocol to get you out of danger fast! And, most often, that means dealing with the first three factors, toxicity, physicl trauma, deficiency, (think poisoning, broken bones or tissue, electrolyte depletion or blood loss).
Yes there is emotional distress but, other than sedating the occasional hysterical patient, emotional distress in general will not stop the therapy from working.
Here is where it gets interesting. Because acute care is so effective and beneficial in emergency situations (and remember, 100 years ago, most people died of acute trauma and acute infections!), we doctors got the idea that we could fix ‘anything’ with this model.
Hmmm, how has that been working for us? 50% of deaths due to chronic cardiovascular disease, 30-40% of deaths due to chronic cancer, plus all the deaths due to chronic diabetes, chronic liver failure, chronic lung diseases, etc, etc, etc!
That’s right, chronic illnesses are pandemic! Something isn’t working!
What I have discovered in over 30 years of working with chronic health challenges is that something happens with the four factors that changes how people respond to even excellent therapy. While all four factors may be present in either acute or chronic conditions, and often are, something very interesting happens in the shift from an acute to a chronic condition.
Study after study at major medical schools confirm that while the first three factors (toxicity, physical trauma & deficiency) are the key to effective treatment of acute conditions, something changes when your condition lasts for 3-6 months or longer (usually decades in the case of many of our chronic conditions!)
While toxicity, physical trauma and deficiencies certainly exist in these chronic conditions, it is the emotional distress factor that limits and controls 85%-95% of the healing response in chronic health challenges!!
That’s right, your attitude, emotional states and processing are the key limiting factors in whether or not the rest of your therapy works or not. And, what is emotions, attitude, feelings, etc? That’s right, placebo effect! All these years of making light of placebo effect, to the point most of us hate the very words, and now we have a whole branch of medicine, psychoneuroimmunology, to research how to use it to heal chronic health issues!
Does this mean your illness is imaginary? No! no! no!
What this means is you personal mind-body connection is much more powerful than any Western doctor was ever willing to admit. And, the reason it is so vital is that is actually regulates whether you body can accept and respond to treatment and healing therapy or not!
This is especially vital for persons suffering with illnesses of the gastro-intestinal tract. Why?
60% or more of the neurotransmitters that regulate emotional processing are in your gut! In fact, about 10x more than are in your brain!
Persons with GI tract issues are especially sensitive to the emotional trauma and stresses associated with their illness and, respond especially well to therapies that enhance calmness and release stress and trauma from the body.
And, in fact, it works the other way too. We now know that we can actually treat mental-emotional illness by improving gut health! That’s right, conditions as diverse as autism, severe depression and bi-polar disorder may all show improvement with therapy that addresses gut health.
For further reading, check out this interesting article from Dr. Mercola:http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/04/17/psychoneuroimmunology-inflammation.aspx
So what does this mean for us? In future articles we will explore the causes of the emotional/gut connection and, more importantly, practical strategies to use that connection to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
Until next time,