What Science Says about the Emotions
The connection between emotions and disease has been known for thousands of years in cultures all around the world.
Today, scientists are beginning to understand in great detail how certain emotions can have a direct effect on disease because disease means dis-ease.
Just as negative emotions affect your health negatively so can positive emotions heal the body.
In the Bible, Proverbs 17:22-23 says: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acknowledges the “7 Emotions” that are thought to have a direct correspondence to disease states.
And now modern science is discovering in astonishing detail how certain emotions can have a direct effect on disease − and healing − in the body.
The profound effect that emotions have on health and lifespan can be evidenced by a ground-breaking series of 10-year-long studies published in the British journal Psychology and Psychotherapy in 1988. The study, which is just as relevant today, concluded that “emotional stress was more predictive of death from cancer or cardiovascular disease than from smoking.” It also found that individuals who were the most affected by stress had an overall death rate that was 40% higher than non-stressed participants.
So just how do emotions have such an effect on our bodies?
The term psychosomatic is normally associated with “imaginary illnesses.” In fact, the term simply relates to the physiological connections between mind and body. In modern scientific terms, this connection happens through tiny molecular structures called neuropeptides.
Peptides, a form of ligand, are tiny bits of protein that are produced throughout the body. They are found in hormones such as endorphins, serotonin, and insulin, for example, and are key elements for life. Neuropeptides pave the way between the brain (i.e. our emotions) and the body.
When a thought triggers an emotion, neuropeptides transmit those feelings through neuropathways and extracellular fluid. Eventually these peptides will connect with cellular receptors throughout the body where they will have an impact on the functioning of body systems at all levels.
The late Candace Pert, author of Molecules of Emotion and one of the pioneers of psychoneuroimmunology, states:
“…the chemicals that are running our body and our brain are the same chemicals that are involved in emotion.”
How Your Emotions Affect Your Body
Here are just a few ways in which specific emotions affect specific bodily functions:
- A University of Arizona study found that expressing affectionate feelings towards your loved ones can lower cholesterol;
- A study published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology discovered that when subjects simply recalled the situation that had been the initial cause of stress, their blood pressure rates raised significantly. Another study at the University of Maryland Medical Center found that just the anticipation of laughter began to reduce the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.
- A study at Loma Linda University in California found that when individuals laughed at a funny movie, the levels of beta-endorphins, responsible for mood elevation, rose as well. In addition, Human Growth Hormone, which aids in sleep and contributes to cellular repair, rose by 87%.
So what is causing you to feel this way?
If you do know then ask yourself what is holding you back from taking corrective action steps?
And if you don’t know, you can be rest assured your subconscious knows.