The psychosomatic network: foundations of mind-body medicine

Author: Pert CB//Dreher HE//Ruff MR
Affiliation: Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC, USA
Conference/Journal: Altern Ther Health Med
Date published: 1998
Other: Volume ID: 4 , Issue ID: 4 , Pages: 30-41 , Word Count: 203

Research in the 1980s uncovered ubiquitous neuropeptide-receptor distribution in brain structures associated with emotional processing, and throughout many organ systems. This finding supported neuropeptides as biochemical substrates of emotion, and the neuropeptide-receptor network as a parasynaptic system crossing traditional brain-body boundaries. The medical relevance of these findings was affirmed by psychoneuroimmunology research: neuropeptides help to regulate immunocyte trafficking, there is bidirectional communication between nervous and immune system components, immunocytes produce neuropeptides, and nerve cells produce immune-associated cytokines. In the past decade, the concept of a unified psychosomatic network has been strengthened by animal and human research demonstrating relationships between behavior and neuropeptide-mediated regulation of immune functions. Research on emotional expression or disclosure in healthy human subjects as well as in cancer and HIV-positive patients has shown significant positive correlations with clinically relevant immune functions and/or positive health outcomes. Psychosocial interventions emphasizing emotional expression or active coping have evidenced survival benefits in breast cancer and melanoma. These findings suggest that emotional expression generates balance in the neuropeptide-receptor network and a functional healing system. Emotional expression is also a marker for psychospiritual vitalization, and further research should evaluate links between energy-based models of health and neuropeptide-receptor-based models under the rubric of an informational paradigm.