Walking Talking Pharmacy
‘Tis the mind that makes the body rich.
In the Rebirth of Energy Medicine, we introduced specific steps to applying Energy Medicine in our daily lives. This chapter details practical ways of creating our own internal pharmacies that we can access in our efforts to heal ourselves. Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) addresses the communication link between our behavior, our nervous system and our immune processes. In Energy Medicine, there is mindbody; there is no separation. Steven Locke, M.D., a professor at Harvard Medical School, calls the mindbody approach the third revolution in Western medicine, the first being surgery, and the second, penicillin. The chemical language of emotion and the immune system is neuropeptides. These neuropeptides are remarkably illuminated by Professor Candace Pert, Ph.D., of Georgetown University Medical Center in her authoritative book Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine. These molecules communicate with our entire body. They are protein sequences that are the building blocks of DNA.1
The Universal Language Of Peptides
Peptides are not only protein sequences, they are charged with intelligence, the same inherent, omnipresent intelligence contained in nature. In 1982 at Washington University, biologists Drs. Orians and Rhoades conducted an interesting experiment with neighboring tree species, alder and willow. One set of trees was experimentally infected with webworms and caterpillars. The infected group rallied to protect themselves. They altered their protein counts, and started secreting tannins and terpenes.
These secretions made the leaves inedible, the insects died, and the disease process ceased. In essence, the trees had healed themselves.
Perhaps even more fascinating is another finding. The uninfected neighboring trees (the control group in this study) seemed to receive a “message” from infected trees. As a result they also began producing tannins and terpenes, protecting themselves from infection. From dolphins to trees, such communication represents the ubiquitous and intelligent language of peptides, awaiting our understanding.
The Modern Birth of Mind-Made Medicine
George F. Solomon, M.D., the contemporary father of Mind-Made Medicine, coined the term psychoimmunology to describe the link between our mind and our immune system. Robert Ader, Ph.D., later expanded the term to PNI to highlight the importance of the nervous system and its relationship to the immune system.
Dr. Solomon’s research emphasized the relationship between personality, behaviors and immunology. He outlined immune-competent personality traits: finding meaning in our work, expressing anger constructively, asking for favors and support from family and friends and the ability to deal with difficult people with ease.2 Dr. Solomon later discovered links between personality style and disease (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, AIDS). For example, a “nice guy” personality constellation was significantly correlated with rheumatoid arthritis (a disorder characterized by immuno-compromise) and unassertive behavior patterns. Dr. Solomon even found that mice who demonstrated fighting behaviors had stronger immune systems, hence, his quote “…it is good for your health to express anger…, even if you are a mouse.”3
Love and Immunology
A whole orchestra of healing hormones and a dance of electrical impulses occur within our immune system when we are in love. We can reach euphoria and peak energy by creating a powerful substance, phenylethylamine (PEA). PEA is an important psycho-regulator that works as a natural stimulant, like amphetamine, in our bodies. It is essential for our well-being. The joy of beauty is love, and the beauty of PEA is joy. We can even manufacture PEA in the anticipation of love when the object of love is absent. It is interesting to note that chocolate, cheddar cheese and salami also promote the production of PEA.4 Yet when we have the real thing, love — salami, cheese and chocolate can go back on our diet docket.
David McClelland, Ph.D., a Harvard psychologist, explored the psychobiology of love. When we have a cold, apart from other therapies, try the therapy of love. Dr. McClelland stated that, “Now, when I’m getting a cold I spend some time thinking about loving relationships. A couple of times it even stopped my cold.”5 In other words, we can imagine, in our minds and hearts, a time when we were in love. This visualization may help reduce our cold symptoms. Just the imagery of love activates our immune system, and perhaps an angel of PEA will alight.
There is no scarcity of love. We do not have to have an external object of love, we can find that love within. There are countless ways to enhance our self-esteem. Gloria Steinem calls self-esteem “a revolution from within.” For example, we can wear a favorite pin, a scarf, or a dress and look in the mirror and say “I love you.” We also can have love and romance with life in general by following our dreams.
Our perceptions of love affect our health. In a 35-year longitudinal study coordinated by Drs. Stanley King, Harry Russek, Gary Schwartz, et al., it was found that 91% of the participant students from Harvard who felt they lacked an affectionate relationship with their mothers in childhood developed serious health problems in the middle interim of their lives.
Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, Ph.D.,6 and Ronald Glaser, Ph.D., discovered that “feeling” lonely significantly related to immune system compromises. When students were preparing for examination, those students who “felt” lonely had the least active natural killer cells (NK). NK cells also preprogrammed to help fight viral infections and metastatic cancer. In Mind-Made Medicine, it is our perception of our experiences that either helps or hinders our immune system.
The Healing of Community
Roseto is an Italian-American town in eastern Pennsylvania. Since 1882, residents there have enjoyed a strong sense of community. Their diets and lifestyles were not according to Hoyle (i.e., they included high fat and high calorie consumption). However, the incidence of cardiovascular and other diseases was low due to communal eating and other family rituals. When we share our life, our joys and sorrows, in the warmth of community it seems to protect us from negative health factors. We can call this the Roseto Effect. In recent generations, with the fragmentation of the family unit, disease rates in Roseto are now comparable with neighboring communities.
A sense of community works as a buffer. In the Japanese way of life, a similar sense of community and festive group activities are partly responsible for their longevity. The Japanese idea of amae describes the protective nature of goodwill with the group. Dr. Leonard Syme,7 epidemiologist from the University of California, Berkeley, links amae’s effect to the fine health enjoyed by family-oriented Japanese who maintain strong family ties even after migrating to the United States. Not only does diet promotes Japanese longevity but amae also plays a part.
Heart and Healing
Dean Ornish, M.D., author of Love and Survival: The Scientific Basis for the Healing Power of Intimacy (1998) has demonstrated the health benefits of opening our hearts in reversing heart disease. Dr. Ornish prescribed a low-fat diet, change in lifestyle, exercise and, most importantly, relating to others lovingly, as ways to promote survival. After one year, Dr. Ornish demonstrated that chest pains significantly dissipated, and arterial clogging had reversed in over 82% of patients without using drugs and surgery. Newsweek called these results “revolutionary.” Dr. Ornish emphasized the role of intimacy and love as the most meaningful intervention, typically neglected in the medical profession.8
Thomas Oxman, M.D., and a team of researchers at Dartmouth Medical School highlight another interesting aspect of heart and healing. They found that after open heart surgery, patients who felt comforted by their religious beliefs had a survival rate three times greater than those who did not. Of these patients, those who also reported being involved in community activities and faith had a survival rate ten times greater.9
The Healing Power of “P”
The easiest way to bring the healing power of connectedness into everyday living is by having at least one “P” in our lives: person, plant or pet. When we feel lonely and isolated, our immune system becomes suppressed.
In order for the healing juices of the immune system to flow, we need to have supportive people in our lives. For example, having a friend who we can call in the middle of the night, and say, “I can’t believe this shit happened to me!” Just having someone there who we can rely on, and who will listen to us without judgment, provides a valuable boost to our immune systems. We are brought up in a society where fear of abandonment abounds. This basic fear prevents us from connecting with others, and triggers immune-suppressive responses throughout our body. Jean-Paul Sartre was incorrect when he said: the other is hell. Others can be a tremendous boost to our well-being.
If we feel a twinge of misanthropy come over us, we might instead consider adopting a plant. I never leave my house without talking to my friends, the gardenia and night-blooming jasmine. When I return, I always share how my day was with them. Ellen Langer, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, conducted a fabulous study. In 1976 in a nursing home, a group of elderly residents were given house plants to care for. In a comparison group, nursing staff attended to the plants. After 1½ years, the survival rate of the patients caretaking for their plants was twice that of the control group patients.
Taking care of a plant gives us a sense of responsibility, and talking to a plant gives us a sense of connection. Research scientist Cleve Backster demonstrated that plants do have consciousness, which he calls primary perception. That is, plants not only share a basic nonlocal intelligence but they also share an ability to communicate in nonverbal terms.
If we do not have time for plant-talk, welcome a three-letter angel of love: p-e-t. Pet connections work as a living sedative and can lower our blood pressure. We benefit from sharing our heart with an animal — whether it be a swan or a salamander, a Siamese or a sheltie.
Psychiatrist Erika Friedmann, M.D., from the University of Pennsylvania, discovered that this pet-love gave people a stronger reason to live than family and spouses. The underlying reason is that animals show us unconditional love. They always greet us affectionately no matter how long we have been gone or what our mood du jour may be. Our tendency to be judgmental and conditional with ourselves and others interrupts the flow of love. Even conversations with a goldfish or a golden retriever can promote coronary health.
Writing Our Way to Health
When we cannot make a connection outside our selves, as outlined above, we can make a connection within. There is always hope. We are never completely alone. Writing our way to health is a technique for stimulating our minds, hearts and immune systems. Psychologist James Pennebaker, Ph.D., from Southern Methodist University found that writing about our traumas for 20 minutes weekly for four weeks can significantly improve our immune systems (a control group wrote about general life events in the same time period). Dr. Pennebaker compared blood samples before and after the writing experiment. The group who recorded their traumas had fewer symptoms and made fewer trips to the doctor.
In 1989, David Spiegel, M.D., at Stanford School of Medicine, published his surprising results in the prominent British medical journal The Lancet.10 Dr. Spiegel divided a group of female patients with metastatic breast cancer in two groups. Both groups were given identical medical treatments. The only differential variable was that patients within one group were assigned to a 90-minute weekly support group where they cried, cheered, and shared their stories within the safety of the group. In a five-year follow-up, the support group attendees had twice the lifespan of nonattending patients.
Isolation is contraindicated. Connection heals. We are all in this together. The language of the heart can be understood even without a single word being uttered.
Somatization Through the Ages
Soma comes from the Greek word that means body. People living in a particular era create a collective impression of what defines wellness and illness, which in turn manifests in patterns of disease. We somatize; our thoughts become realized in our bodies.
Every age has its own collective thought pattern based on the material advancements and values of the society. These cultural thought patterns have a far reaching impact on health trends.
For example, in the nineteenth century, prominent figures in literature and the arts romanitcized suffering and dying young. The incidence and prevalence of consumption (tuberculosis) increased as people accepted and adopted this paradigm.
Eventually, the collective consciousness changed, and the disease changed. Death at a young age was no longer glorified. The advent of the industrial revolution not only brought advancements in medicine; it also encouraged individuals to abandon their relative isolation and join with the progress of society.
Modern allopathic medicine is predicated on a disease-based model. Billions of dollars annually are invested to treat illness on a secondary and tertiary basis. In contrast, in ancient Chinese medicine, doctors were paid as long as the person remained healthy. Payments stopped and the doctors were fired when disease appeared. Our approach to energy-based medicine rejuvenates the ancient wisdom where medicine is health oriented versus disease-focused.
From prehistoric time to the present, nature has provided us with mechanisms to self-repair, to self-heal spontaneously. Even the simplest cell has the capacity to repair its own genes. Trees demonstrate this inherent ability. Animals and amphibians share the same gift of spontaneous remission.
We can utilize this built-in intelligence from nature whenever we need to heal. Rockefeller University researcher, Rene Dubos, Ph.D., purports, “…probably 90% to 95% of the ailments for which people seek medical attention would take care of themselves without any medical help.”11 I believe every disease, including different types of cancer, can be healed by tapping into this spontaneous remission mechanism. Saint Augustine said, “Miracles do not happen in contradiction of nature, but in contradiction of what we know about nature.”
In 1993, researchers Brenden O’Regan and Caryle Hirshberg published the largest collection of spontaneous remission cases (3,500). This remarkable collection, entitled Spontaneous Remission: An Annotated Bibliography, synthesizes research from over 830 medical journals in more than 20 languages.
The phenomenon of spontaneous healing has not been incorporated into main-stream medicine, to date. Healing happens all the time, and healing happens all over the world. Wherever faith goes, spontaneous healing can follow. Andrew Weil, M.D., suggests that, as more people believe in spontaneous healing, people will experience it more frequently.
People with “terminal” cancer, “incurable” diseases and people on crutches heal themselves. Every year more than five million people go to experience this healing miracle at a Roman Catholic shrine in Lourdes, France. The medical review board of Lourdes has scientifically documented hundreds of these heatings.
Based on a synthesis of international research findings, the ingredients of spontaneous healing generally remain amorphous. In the Heart of Healing, published by the Institute of Noetic Sciences with William Poole, the following are some of the causative factors that are elegantly encapsulated:
1. Favorable psychosocial change: Charles Weinstock, a professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, explored the mechanisms of spontaneous remission. He found that a positive psychosocial change (e . g., religious conversion, reconciliation in relationships , etc.) often occurred one to three weeks prior to the remission.
2. Dramatic shift in life viewpoint: Yujiro lkerni also discovered, at Kyushu University in Japan, that individuals who experienced spontaneous remission frequently had undergone a dramatic, positive change in their outlook on life.
3. Less depression, less trusting of medical diagnoses, autonomy, and stronger support systems. Marco de Vries of the Netherlands discovered that healed patients were less depressed and had greater autonomy. They tended to feel less trusting about following medical advice, and enjoyed greater social support.
I believe, as a result, these patients experienced a radical existential shift. When we go through an instant transformation from feeling powerless to feeling empowered, we facilitate our healing process.
At the turn of the 19th century, Sir William Osler said, “It is much more important to know what sort of patient has the disease than what sort of disease the patient has.” In my healing practice, I have repeatedly witnessed that it is not the disease but our attitude, belief, coping skills, support system, and lifestyle that enable the miracle of healing. Spontaneous healing is nature’s gift to us. Mark Twain once joked about it, “Nature heals and the doctor sends the bill.” Each and every human being is born with uniqueness, which is our life purpose.12
This is our song. Find it, and heal.
Whenever we want to heal, we need to return to the home of our own hearts to kindle the flame of passion within, something or someone we naturally love. Here we reunite with our purpose in life, which contains the entire score for our healing and happiness. The song can be any thing, a sport, a dream, a hobby, an animal, anything that makes our heart sing. Dis-ease breaks us. The song of life heals us. God lives in our hearts. When we follow our song, we summon the energy to take a leap into the open arms of God… to surmount any obstacle and become whole.
The Sky Is Partly Bright
It is our interpretation of our health status that produces our desired results. For example, in Alameda County, California, approximately 7,000 people completed a questionnaire rating their view of their health. Their actual health was not the significant factor. Rather it was their perception of their health that mattered. In a nine-year follow-up, men who rated their health as poor had a death rate 2.3 times as great as men who rated their health as excellent. Among female subjects, the morbidity rate was five times greater!13 The next time someone asks us about our health, let us apply this technique, and emphasize our well-being. This mobilizes the healing medicines in our minds. “So how is your health?” “Great! Wonderful!” We are practicing positive perceptions that promote PNI.
Crucial factors in generating Mind-Made Medicine are our tendency to perceive ourselves as being hope-full rather than hope-less, and power-full as opposed to power-less. Our words directly reflect our attitudes and perceptions. Words have tremendous power. They work like magnets, attracting to us what we create in our minds. The impact of this dynamic occurs with words spoken aloud, as well as with the vocabulary of our private, internal dialogues.
In a wonderful book entitled Healthy Pleasures by Robert Ornstein, Ph.D., and David Sobel, M.D., the authors cite several interesting studies that are highlighted here. In one example, a group of female patients were awaiting the results of their cervical biopsies. There was a significant correlation between the women’s use of negative words and poor test results. That is, women whose choice of words emphasized negative emotions and/ or ideas (e.g., “dark, difficult,” or “disgusting” depicting a discouragement with life) were more likely to receive unfavorable test results indicative of cervical cancer. In contrast, women who used positive words (e.g., “longing, wish,” and “desire,” reflecting a zest for living) were more likely to receive favorable results.
In my seminars, I ask participants to quickly respond to the question, “How is the weather today?” When a person answers “partly cloudy,” it indicates that the power of their words have not been fully realized. We then work together until they experience a shift in perception where they report that the sky is “partly sunny.” It is interesting to note that in our popular media, this “partly sunny sky” orientation is rarely portrayed.14
Some of us may experience difficulties instantly changing our self-talk. We need to recognize the importance and power of this internal dialogue and commit to change. We stimulate PNI when we observe and practice acts of kindness. David McClelland, Ph.D., calls this the Mother Teresa Effect.15 In an interesting study, students viewed a film of Mother Teresa working in India. The results from follow-up blood samples revealed that a significant marker, salivary immunoglobulin antigen (SIgA), was elevated. SIgA protects us from upper respiratory tract infections, and symptoms such as coughs and colds. So the next time we feel under-the-weather, we can watch a heart-warming movie, or better yet, go out and extend our hearts in an act of kindness to another.
How To Practice Mind-Made Medicine
We have seen clearly in this chapter that our minds literally create a powerful pharmacy, the hormones, neuropeptides, and innumerable unnamed biochemicals, that move and rejuvenate us as is intended by the intelligence of nature.
Faith heals. Belief activates the neural pathways of healing. Healing is the gift of life. Our DNA contains the blueprint for healing. When we receive life-enhancing messages, such as “I love myself,” we activate our circuitry of healing. Our mind and our cells are constantly communicating. Let us be aware of these life lines of communication. This Mind-Made Medicine sends chemical messages to stimulate our genes to repair our ailing DNA.
The communication in the mind happens by path ways that are nerve endings separated by synaptic gaps. The nerve endings have dendrites that are not anatomically connected. It is by the intensity of electrical impulses that we bridge the gap of dendrites and activate the healing mechanism of Mind-Made Medicine.
It is our intentions, choices and actions that propel us toward health. In this chapter, we have reviewed specific, practical ways to heal: opening our souls, attracting love, connecting with P’s, finding our song of life, creating hopefull-ness and power-full-ness, and involvement with acts of kindness and faith.
Dis-ease is a sense of loss.
Healing is sense of power.
What can we do to begin our healing at this very moment? We can start in our relationships and our jobs. Whenever we feel dis-ease, we can choose to change. We can bring power by connecting to any “P.” When we connect with plants, pets or people we trigger the healing pathways. Connection is the mechanism where we return to life instinct, eros, creating the pharmacy to heal and experiencing its rejuvenating power.
If we have critical people around us, we need to bring supportive, nonjudgmental people into our lives. Compassion versus criticism accelerates our healing. Criticism does not promote change. Compassion encourages change. We can benefit from spending time with cheerful people because their energies will help elevate our perceptions.
By bringing positive vibrations into our lives, we heal.
Ancient wisdom teaches us:
As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.16
Exercises for Transformation and Healing
Empowering Peptides: A single touch, an uplifting story, a pat on the back, and a loving look all travel in the form of peptides that activate our inherent healing system. Let us nurture ourselves by giving ourselves a pat on the back each morning when we arise, and each night before we sleep. It is okay. If we cannot swim with a dolphin, we can attract dolphin-like people, people who are cheerful and playful, into our lives. Bring the flow of peptides.
PNI Talk: We can change the critical way we talk to ourselves into self-talk that promotes our self-esteem. For example, when we doubt ourselves, remember that we are powerful creators. We can reinforce this belief by repeating, “I am capable and creative.”
Love is the Drug: We can bring lots of love into our everyday living. Let us begin by nurturing our own hearts. We can mail ourselves a valentine any time of the year saying “I Love You.” In fact, it will be very health-full to do this often throughout the year as a reminder of the benefit of the “I Love You” drug.
Song of Life: Whether or not we can sing on tune, each of us has a song that we are born with. This song is actually any form of inner “gift” or talent. We are good for something. Find and practice these hidden talents.
Partly Bright Sky: When life seems miserable, we can find one ray of hope in the midst of the storm. For example, if our car does not start, instead of cursing, let us praise it for how wonderfully it has served us on uncountable occasions. On days we feel down on ourselves, we can select one positive thing to focus on throughout that day (e.g., “l have nice eyes,” or “My pet is always good to me”). It can be most helpful to choose something that spontaneously makes us laugh (e.g., “I have the most unusual nose in the world,” or “I give so much to others, I should be Santa Claus!”).
A Dose of Kindness: Let us begin with ourselves. Take five extra minutes today and listen to a favorite song, or eat a favorite food. Allow 15-30 minutes extra to commune with the sandman. During this time we can clear our minds of clutter. When we go out, we can also practice kindness with others. This can be especially fun when we do it anonymously. For example, find a parking meter that has expired, and feed it a coin or two (please do this at your own risk and responsibility). Recall that we can also derive health benefits from looking at a movie or book that depicts the milk of human kindness.
- The dynamics of DNA will be further elaborated later in this chapter.
- Natural Health, January-February 1992.
- Immune and Nervous System Interactions: An Analytic Bibliography Supporting Key Postulates on Communication Links, Similarities, and Implications, 1996.
- In 1991, a British study reported that the average person consumed 16 pounds of chocolate in that year. Was there a link to PEA?
- ln The Healer Within, Steven Locke, M.D., and Douglas Colligan,
- Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser is is a clinical health psychologist specializing in psychoneuroimmunology and Director of the Ohio State University Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. Her research on stress associated with caregiving and marital relationships has been featured in many news outlets.
- Leonard Syme is a Professor of Epidemiology and Community Health (Emeritus) in the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley whose research focuses on the relationship between health and such psychosocial factors as poverty, stress and social isolation.
- Refer to Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease: The Only System Scientifically Proven to Reverse Heart Disease without Drugs or Surgery by Dean Ornish, M.D.
- Psychosomatic Medicine, 1995. To learn more about Thomas Oxman, M.D., see https://worldwidehumanitarian.com/2019/07/11/thomas-oxman/
- See Spiegel, David, M.D., “Effect of Psychosocial Treatment on Survival of Patients with Metastatic Breast Cancer,” The Lancet, Volume 334, Issue 8668, 14 october 1989, pp. 888-89.
- Refer to The Healing Brain: A Scientific Reader, edited by Robert Ornstein and Charles Swencionis, p. 136
- Psychotherapist Lawrence LeShan popularized “the life song” which he used successfully in his clinical practice with cancer patients.
- American Journal of Epidemiology, 1983.
- I would like to have a television show that has the theme, “the sky is partly bright.” Instead of talking about accidents and disasters, it will talk about the child who is born eight pounds healthy, and in my back yard even the cactus had a flower, and two neighbors who never spoke with one another spo ke today.
- Original study is “The effect of motivational arousal through films on salivary immunoglobulin A,” by David C. McClelland & Carol Kirshnit, Psychology & Health, Volune 2, Issue 1 1988.
- Proverbs 23:7