Medical research is turning up harder scientific evidence that this mind-body link is not only intuitive, it’s physiological. The most compelling data may come from Dr. Candace Pert, a psychoneuroimmunologist who has studied the effect of the mind and emotions on health. Dr. Pert’s work has focused on biochemicals called “neuropeptides,” which were found to be “messenger molecules” that carry the signals or commands from the brain to every cell in the body. Dr. Pert discovered that these neuropeptides act like keys that fit into locks, or specific sites on cells, called receptors. These receptors were found to cover the surface of all the cells in the body, including the immune system, the endocrine system, and those parts of the body controlled by the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS regulates many of the functions in our bodies that happen involuntarily, such as pulse rate, breathing, sweating, digestion, and blood flow, among others. Neuropeptides help us run our automatic bodily processes. They carry messages that tell the cells in the lungs to breathe in and out, the cells in the adrenal glands to release adrenaline, and so on.
These neuropeptides also carry, according to Dr. Pert’s research, commands for our emotions. Thus, if someone is happy or sad or angry, a certain neuropeptide would carry that particular feeling throughout the body. While the definitive experiment that would identify in a rigorously scientific way which neuropeptide carries which emotion has yet to be devised, Dr. Pert nonetheless feels confident enough to assert that these neuropeptides are the “biochemical correlates of emotion.” Dr. Pert also states that this system of messenger molecules and receptors represents a “psychosomatic communication network” that is the physiological link between the mind, the emotions, and the body. Messenger molecules are basically “chakra juice,” she says. “The chemicals that mediate emotion and the receptors for those chemicals are found in every cell in the body.”
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