The Psychoneuroimmunology reference article from the Simple Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Psychoneuroimmunology

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Psychoneuroimmunology or mind-body medicine is a view of medicine and health. It partly explains healing as a process of regaining balances - not as curing.

Disturbing and correcting forces, which may be molecules or hormones, are treated in a more abstract and social way than in most other medicine. Family and other social network connections play a very major role in healing, in this view, and are more important than drugs.

Much biology supports this view. Some immune system responses cannot be explained unless it is strongly linked to the nervous system, and the senses. Examples are the type of epileptic seizure that can only be triggered by light, or an allergy that goes off if only a few molecules, not even enough to smell, are received into the nose. Also there are cases of people with HIV who have lived a very long time - with almost no functioning immune system - only their positive attitude seems to make them different from those who die.

Sometimes the whole system is compared to a symphony orchestra in your body. There are different types of instruments playing, in sections, which are like the different systems in your body. Rhythm and overall level of stress matter much more than how any individual part of the system works. Rest and sleep matter a great deal, just as they would for symphony players.

An important difference between this view and other medicine is that someone is not just "sick" until they are "well", but will go through periods of time feeling sick, and feeling well, as a part of the rhythms starting to work. So a child for instance should not just go to bed and stay there for a period of time, but should be able to get up and do things, even if they have to go back to bed quickly afterward to rest some more.

Dr. Esther Sternberg, an expert in this field, believes that the body has its own internal way of restoring its balance and that doctors usually can't improve these. In 500 BC, she says, it was common to build temples to Asclepius, the god of healing, and they had long sloping ramps to let sick people use them. There were hospital like cells, and healthy food and fresh water was served. Removing day to day stress, getting enough sleep, and music, dreams, exercise, nutrition, prayer and interaction with others, was all part of the method. Modern hospitals are making mistakes by isolating the sick unless they are infectious - which is good for others but not necessarily for the sick themselves.