Previously I've talked about the constant communications between the brain and nervous system and the immune system. How does this work? And what difference does it make for you?
Let's take this field of psychoneuroimmunology and begin simplifying right here. Let's call it mind-body medicine. There! That's better.
It's a huge area. Let's take a small piece for now.
The nervous system has a direct effect on the immune system. Its neurons (nerve cells) talk to white blood cells in places like the lymph nodes, bone marrow, spleen, and thymus (parts of the immune system).
Nerves interact with the immune system's T (thymus) cells and macrophages (white blood cells that eat infectious microorganisms, bacteria, protozoa and tumor cells).
Nerve endings touch the immune system's T cells, B (bone marrow) cells and NK (natural killer) cells. NK cells kill tumors and cells infected by viruses.
This all sounds like it's probably good. But if you're like me you've read the above and grasp, really, no more than you did before. In fact, I'm lucky if you have not already wandered away due to translation difficulties and relevancy issues.
If you're not like me perhaps you've learned something new and I am happy for you. Maybe you already knew all this. But I feel the need to make this research accessible to the countless non-science brains like mine out there, who would use this information if only they could understand it.
So let's summarize these facts and pull out the significance.
These two systems talk to each other, in an amazing mind-body communication. But more results from this than just a conversation.
In the process, immune system cells, like T cells, in the thymus, and macrophages, eating toxins and intruders, are stimulated by the messages sent out by your dear old brain. Where you think. Natural killer cells (I love the name, it makes me feel safer knowing I have these) are on patrol and work extra hard because of these neural (brain) messages that YOU are emitting.
You can consciously decide to send out healing messages, positive messages ... hopeful messages. Your immune system's cells consider these fighting words. And your body will respond by sending in more killers and paid assassins to get rid of the bad guys.
To really oversimplify, just to bring home the point fully, you are central command sending in the troops, every time you so choose.
Psychoneuroimmunology: Bi-directional Interactions Between the Brain and the Nervous System
Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/cgi/content/full/64/5/847