Just when you thought you thought you understood your immune system, you learn something new, like how you might be able to control it with your mind.
Movies about psychics often show how they whisper a spell over a bleeding wound, and it skins over; or how they look closely at a terminally ill person, and they immediately get better.
The immune system seems like an independent part of the human body’s systems, healing and strengthen by power all its own. For so long, we’ve thought that we have no control over how proficient our immune system works, but this might not be the case.
Of course, I don’t think we will ever be able to do the same healing tricks as the psychics in fantasy movies, but it seems that we do have some extent of control over our bodies after all.
Recent studies have shown that some aspects of immunity indeed might be controlled by thought. In particular, our brain is able to influence the intensity of an allergic reaction from things such as a bee string or medications.
Such a fantastic conclusion was made by researchers from the University of South Australia.
In an experiment, several healthy volunteers were injected with histamine, which is produced in large quantities by our immune system for battling allergic attacks. Histamine was injected in the arms of the volunteers, but the experiment was organized in an odd manner.
Scientists made the volunteers believe the histamine was being injected into a rubber doll. Now, remember, a real injection was made in their other arm.
Results from the Illusion
Then, the scientists compared the size of the allergic response on both arms of the participants, as well as the one in the control group that had no illusion. It turned out that when the volunteers thought the histamine injection had been administered to the doll, the effect of histamine on the arm that had been replaced by the rubber one was much stronger.
It looked as if the brain ceased to follow the immune system because of the injection made. The illusion also provoked a decrease in blood flow and temperature in the allegedly replaced arm.
“Such a finding is particularly relevant to the immune system because a primary role of the immune system is to discriminate self from non-self,” said Prof Lorimer Moseley, who led the study.
“In this instance, the innate immune system is being regulated in a manner consistent with the rejection of the replaced hand.”
“These findings strengthen the argument that the brain exerts some kind of control over specific body parts according to how strongly we own them,” he says.
So, it could mean that in many ways, the immune system might be influenced by consciousness. This discovery could also shed light on autoimmune diseases such as schizophrenia, stroke, autism, epilepsy, anorexia, and bulimia, which are associated with a distorted sense of ownership over a patient’s body and in which the immune system ‘attacks’ the body.
As far as 30 years ago, scientists saw a connection with schizophrenia, where abnormal autoimmune responses were observed. This was also seen in other neurological illnesses.
With this new information and the right treatments, hopefully, physicians will more drastic improvements in some of these debilitating diseases thought to have components of immunity.
It’s truly strange how ancient civilizations considered the brain separate from the body. The Ancient Egyptians, during mummification, scooped out the brain and threw it away. What a travesty! What a waste!
Now that we understand a portion of the power of the human mind, hopefully, we will be able to utilize this power to achieve great things…
Even to the extent of changing our perception of the immune system.
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