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Psycho-neuro-endocrino-immunology.

It was after studying the links between psychology, neurology, endocrinology and immunology that, in the 1980s, Robert Ader helped to “invent” this new field of research, which he called Psycho-Neuro-Endocrino-Immunology.

In February 2020, I had the opportunity to deepen this approach to osteopathy during a seminar with Anne Julie Morand, master in the discipline. Since then, this vision and these techniques have complemented my daily practice. 

 

Just for the record…

 

Since Plato, Descartes and traditional university philosophy, it is customary in the West to separate the mind from the body and the soul from the brain. The psyche is separated from biology while the psychological dimension is an integral part of health processes.  For several decades, emotions and psychic phenomena have been suspected of having an influence on bodily functions without being able to explain it.It was not until the discovery of brain neuro-hormones by Professor R.Guillemin (Nobel Prize in Medicine 1977) that the Cartesian dogma burst: the body-mind connection is established.

It is then a new image of the human being that emerges, which now appears as a global, integrated entity.

 

Understanding the health process

 

Health is defined by the WHO (World Health Organization) as “a complete state of physical, moral, and social well-being and not just the absence of disease and infirmity.”  The disease, on the other hand, is the manifestation of a dysfunction of the body characterized by different symptoms and a certain evolution over time.  Most diseases are multifactorial and their occurrence depends on the environment, the individual’s experience, but also the predispositions of the individual’s genetic heritage.

The maintenance of homeostasis (internal balance of the body) is ensured by three major systems of communication and integration: the central and autonomous nervous systems, the endocrine system and the immune system.

While these three systems have long been considered independent, neuroscience leads us to revise this statement by showing us that they communicate with each other very precisely.

Indeed, the relationship between psyche, neuro-endocrine system and immune system is to be considered as unitary, in an integrated network.  When it works harmoniously, psychosomatic well-being is assured. Conversely, an imbalance in this integrated network can trigger psychosomatic diseases.

 

Communication between different systems

 

Communication between systems is orchestrated by chemical messengers that transmit information. A dialogue between cells, organs and tissues is thus established in a common biological language. 

The information is conveyed by blood and/or nerve in order to maintain the optimal functioning of the body: 

 

- the nervous system transmits electrical signals and uses neurotransmitters;

- the endocrine system uses signal molecules: the circulating hormones transmit signals specific to their target organ remotely;

- the immune system transmits messages through cells that circulate in the body and locally produce active molecules, cytokines and antibodies.

 

Thus, the interaction between these three units made it possible to highlight:

=> relations between psychic life and immune defences,

=> the influence of the psyche on the endocrine system, 

=> the influence of the brain and hormones on immune cells.

 

It is not the head that flies but the body!

 

It is a dynamic operation supported by multiple and variable modes of communication between systems.

Given this dynamic functioning, it is clear that stress and emotional states significantly affect immune function and can cause physical and psychological changes.

Now we know that 80% of the information goes from the body to the brain and only 20% goes from the brain to the body.

Thus, our bodily sensations determine our thoughts and emotions which, in turn, influence our metabolism.

We talk about emotional toxicity: Body sensations > Emotions > Effects on our physiology.

In the same sense, the food we eat is also information given to our body, hence the importance of a quality diet: "We are what we eat".

The PNEI