Your Brain And Your Immune System - Can You Really Think Yourself Well?

Just pick up any newspaper, turn to any local news channel, or log-on to the Internet, and you'll see that the flu season is in full swing!

How people choose to face the flu season however, is entirely up to their own personal preferences.

Some choose to get vaccinated, others choose to ride it out with the use of over-the-counter medication, while others opt for a more natural approach.

While the thought of a more natural approach toward getting rid of the cold or flu conjures up images of herbs and fresh, immune fighting, antioxidant rich produce, many often overlook another simple immunity builder - The brain.

* The Brain And The Immune System - What's The Link?

Extensive research has continued to show that the brain and the immune system "talk" to each other about the health (or lack of) of the individual, and that one's mind exercises a strong influence over one's body - immune system included.

In keeping with these studies, the June 1986 issue of National Geographic stated: "Immunologists are discovering more about the links between mind and body, the mechanisms of psychosomatic disease."

Science magazine also concurs, when it reported on the close link between the brain and the immune system: "A great deal of evidence shows that the two systems are inextricably interconnected.... The emerging picture shows that the immune and nervous systems are highly integrated, able to talk back and forth to coordinate their activities."

* Negative Vs. Positive Thinking - Its Affect On Our Well-being.

Taking in consideration that the brain and the immune system are in communicato with each other, it shouldn't come as a surprise then, that factors such as mental stress, depression, loneliness, and bereavement can negatively affect the workings of the white blood cells or lymphocytes. Thereby, reducing *T-cell activities which leads to illnesses.

If negative mental factors adversely affect the immune system, than what effect would a positive mental attitude have on the immune system?

In 1980, Dr. Robert Samp noted the results of a University of Wisconsin study which revealed that in addition to heredity and other vital factors, those with a positive (mental) outlook on life, as well as those who avoided prolonged periods of physical or mental stress, lived longer.

Living longer is one thing however. It's the type of mentality one posses during his/her lifetime that is just as vital.

This is why over twenty years ago, scientists at the State University of New York revealed that laughter (which is linked to a positive frame of mind) helps trigger the release of powerful hormones that energize a person's immune system.

In addition, one of the substances increased by laughter - cytokines - have been found to promote the activity of white blood cells, which are vital in warding off bacterial and viral infections and which destroy potential cancer cells - (Cytokines are critical to the development and functioning of both the innate and adaptive immune response, although not limited to just the immune system. They are often secreted by immune cells that have encountered a pathogen, thereby activating and recruiting further immune cells to increase the system's response to the pathogen - Wikipedia).

Positive thinking and good hardy laughter, has also been found to normalize imbalances in the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems; stabilizing the heartbeat and breathing; boosting the blood flow to muscles and increasing brain activity.

Giving the phrase "laughter is the best medicine" a whole new meaning.

* Positive Thoughts And Your Health - What You Can Do.

Given this information then, it seems plausible that although not a cure-all or substitute for other vital treatments, positive thinking can make a large impact on our all over physical health and well-being.

Whether it's the use of laughter, positive reaffirmations, an upbeat attitude, positive thinking, or even a simple smile (which has been found to produce an electrical stimulus that affects the pituitary gland - thereby, releasing endorphins, which essentially are chemical substances in the brain the makes you feel happy), - in addition to a healthy lifestyle - has been shown to be a great tool in getting and staying healthy.

So the next time your sick, in addition to your "get-better-regimen", think positive thoughts by....

1.) keeping in contact with your family and friends (via phone and e-mail of course - to prevent making them ill)

2.) telling yourself you're going to get better

3.) watching a comedy

4.) reading the comics

5.) telling a joke or listening to one

6.) reminiscing over good times shared with friends and family

7.) sending yourself some flowers

8.) reading the get-well cards you've received (if you havent' received any new ones, read ones received from previous illness - in the event you've saved any)

9.) since smells affects one's mood as well, surrounding yourself with smells that bring you joy (such as lavender, gingerbread, or homemade apple pie scented fragrance diffusers)

10.) listening to soothing music

11.) getting a massage (touch has a very powerful effect on one's mental and physcial well-being -

12.) smiling

Who knows, with these simple suggestions, you just may "think yourself well."

*[T-cells play a central role in cell-mediated immunity - which is an 
immune response that does not involve antibodies or complement but rather 
involves the activation of macrophages, natural killer cells (or NK), 
in turn NK cells play a major role in the rejection of tumors and cells 
infected by viruses - Wikipedia].

copywrite © 2009.

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Comments 22 comments

creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 7 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

Hey Veronica Honey, thank you for a positively fantastic hub, thank you so much for sharing it. Godspeed. creativeone59

Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks creativeone59 for stopping by. I hope you liked it.

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

That was interesting. I never knew all that. Thank you.

Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 7 years ago from Georgia Author

You are welcome Hello, hello. Thanks for stopping by.

RevLady profile image

RevLady 7 years ago from Lantana, Florida

Interesting as usual. Blessings!

stewart_dent 7 years ago from Northampton

Thank you for expressing yourself so effectively, this hub has a good deal of wisdom in it. Author score of 98, cool.

Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Thsnk you RevLady for stopping by. I'm glad you found this interesting.

stewart-dent - thank you for stopping by as well. I appreciate your kind remarks.

Kim Garcia 7 years ago

Nice Hub Veronica, I agree with most of it. As laughter they say is the best form of medicine, I also believe is the number one cause of many illnesses. Thank you for sharing!! peace ~K

Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Thank you for stopping by Kim Garcia. Your statement that laughter is the number one cause of many illnesses fascinated me. Could you please elaborate?

Kim Garcia 7 years ago

Good morning Veronica! First off let me clarify this; I do believe laughter is GREAT medicine as you stated it releases endorphins such as serotonin, essential in getting a good nights rest, and basic for the nervous system. Doctors have now discovered a new disease called Serotonin Syndrome. And Mayo Clinic has reported if untreated can be fatal. This was news to I lack serotonin and have always had trouble sleeping. So, obviously when I read this, it certainly took me by surprise. Attached is a link explaining.

And above I meant to state as well, that STRESS is the number one case of many illnesses. I guess I was tired when I posted as it around midnight.

Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Good morning Kim Garcia, Thanks for clarifying this for me. I'm defintetly checking out the link you attached since it's my first time hearing about Serotonin Syndrome. I'm checking it out right now. Thank you for this vital information.

Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Kim Garcia, I just checked this link out. It's so funny that you brought this up, I'm wondering if my mother suffers from this or not since she has some very similar symptoms. I will defintely be relaying this information to her. Thank you so much.

Hendrika profile image

Hendrika 7 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

Very interesting and very true. Our minds are a whole lot stronger than we think.

Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I agree Hendrika. There is so much about our body that I don't think we've even tapped into. Thanks for stopping by.

thaninja profile image

thaninja 7 years ago from America

Personally, I believe in mind power. Have you ever noticed that when you get sick, your mind is kind of forced into a meditative state?

When I feel a little bit of sickness coming on, I immediately focus on it and then 'feel' myself healing it. It has worked on a sore throat really well. I tend not to get sick very often.

Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I think that is quite amazing. I really feel that we don't tap into the "Power" of our body enough. Thanks for sharing thaninja.

vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 7 years ago from Yucaipa, California

They say fifty hugs a day does wonders for the immune system. Not sure how they came up with that number and or if you have to worry about who hugs you (whether or not they are well!!) There are also the neuropeptides which imminate from the brain. They are amino acid chains, and I have to admit, I don't know what an amino acid chain looks like!!, but they are emotion specific and seem to have the ability to "invade" our entire body. So I wake up in the morning and think, "it's going to be a good day," and the neuropeptides for a "good day" invade my entire body including my eye balls and I find every good thing there is to find even in the midst of not so good things. And the reverse is true. So start producing, folks, neuropeptides for I feel WELL and eager to fight those pig viruses! Come on, let me at ya!"

Thanks for your blog. I love the brain "stuff" and have a few blogs on the brain myself. Now, that's an interesting phrase!

Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I absolutely love your enthusiams vrbmft! Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving your personal experience that affirmed the fact that our minds can truly aid in our physical wellbeing. I'll definetly check out your blogs on the brain. Thank you again.

vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 7 years ago from Yucaipa, California

Thanks for your comments here and there.

Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 7 years ago from Georgia Author

You are so welcome vrbmft.

joeleighton profile image

joeleighton 6 years ago

Volumes of research on stress proves you can think yourself sick. Thinking yourself well also works. It just requires a bit of deliberate conscious thinking to manifest those thoughts into the subconscious.

What you think about becomes your reality.

Good Hub, Joe

Thanks, Joe

Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 6 years ago from Georgia Author

thank you so much joeleighton for stopping by. I agree, there is so much we can do with our mind. It really does boil down to putting our mind to it. Sure, it can't work for everything, but it does help, in the sense that in extreme cases, our outlook makes the situation seem better or mor bearable.

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