Mind Body Connections Part 1

Mind Body Connections Part 1

Let’s begin to explore the anatomy and physiology associated with mind body connections part 1.

Okay, what about those seeking more information about how centering ourselves and using various targeted scripts and methods can lead to improved health and wellness?

How can the mind be connected to the body in order to elicit such responses and changes? How do functions of the body work that relates to health and healing

Limbic-Hypothalamic System

We’ll start with the Limbic-Hypothalamic System, the link connecting some of these things together.

The Limbic system is a system of nerves and networks in the brain, near the cortex, associated with instinct and mood. It controls basic emotions of fear, pleasure, anger, drives hunger, sex, dominance, and the nurturing of children.

The hypothalamus is a portion of the brain with a variety of functions. It links the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland and is part of the limbic system. It is responsible for the regulation of certain metabolic processes and other activities of the autonomic nervous system including body temperature.

Its main job is to tell your pituitary gland to start or stop making hormones. With this, there starts to be a connection that’s somewhat understandable, somewhat.

The Science of Mind Body Connections Part 1

We can think about how the brain and mind connects to the body, the autonomic nervous system, endocrine, and immune systems. The study of the effect of the mind on health and resistance to disease is called Psychoneuroimmunology.

Its focus is on the mind-body connection or, the study of how the brain, nervous system, and the immune system impact each other. How do we connect the dots?

Autonomic System: A little more anatomy and physiology. 

The Autonomic System

Is a part of the nervous system that regulates the visceral process of smooth muscle, cardiac muscle, and gland cells such as blood pressure, the rate of breathing, blood vessels, stomach, metabolism, intestine, liver, kidneys, bladder, genitals, lungs, pupils, heart, sweat, and salivary.

This system works automatically, without a person’s conscious effort. It works independently of voluntary control, but stress, fear, sexual excitement, and alterations in the sleep-wake cycle, can change the level of autonomic activity.

The sympathetic system

A part of the autonomic system, mostly prepares the body for stressful or emergency situations, that is fight or flight. It increases heart rate and the force of heart contractions and dilates the airways to make breathing easier.

It causes the body to release stored energy. Muscular strength is increased. Palms sweat, pupils dilate, and hair stands on end.

The parasympathetic system

Is the other part of the autonomic system, controls body process during ordinary situations.  Basically, it conserves and restores. It slows the heart rate and decreases blood pressure. It stimulates the digestive tract to process food and eliminate wastes. Energy from food is used to restore and build tissues.

The Endocrine System

The endocrine system is a collection of glands that make up a chemical messenger system of hormones. These hormones regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood.  These hormones are secreted directly into the circulatory system to regulate the function of distant organs.

Included in the Endocrine System are:

  • the hypothalamus
  • pituitary
  • pineal (makes a chemical called melatonin)
  • thyroid and parathyroid
  • thymus (makes white blood cells called T-lymphocytes that fight infection, like soldiers who search out and destroy targeted invaders)
  • adrenals (makes the “fight or flight” hormone adrenaline as well as corticosteroids, and cortisol, the stress hormone)
  • pancreas, ovaries and testes

Even though the goal of these glands is to maintain balance within the body, it makes sense that stress, infections, and being around certain chemicals could alter parts of this system that could lead to health problems.

Lastly of Mind Body Connections Part 1: Immune System

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the immune system’s function is to prevent or limit infection.

We know the immune system can be compromised such as with people with genetic immune disorders, immune-debilitating infections like HIV, or pregnant women. These individuals can be susceptible to pathogens that usually do not cause infection in otherwise healthy persons.

To help better understand, the immune system can distinguish between normal, healthy cells and unhealthy cells (unhealthy due to infection or non-infectious reasons like sunburn or cancer) by sets of cues, signals, or patterns.

If the immune system is not activated and does not respond to these signals from unhealthy cells, infection can happen.

As well, if the immune system over responds or cannot stop responding to the signals, allergic reactions or autoimmune diseases can occur.

Immune cells come from the bone marrow and develop into mature cells through changes that can occur in different parts of the body. 

They are found in the skin, bone marrow, bloodstream, thymus (where T cells mature), lymphatic system, spleen, and mucosal tissue.

This is just a start, we’ll cover a little more in depth  functions in Mind Body Connections Part 2.

McCance, K. L., & Huether, S. E. (2015). Pathophysiology: The biologic basis for disease in adults and children. St. Louis: Mosby.