Mind Body Connections Part 2

Mind Body Connections Part 2

In Mind Body Connections Part 1 we reviewed different major systems of the body and how they relate to the mind body.  In Mind Body Connections Part 2 we will briefly look at the two parts of the immune system, the innate and adaptive immune systems.  There are also some general definitions of our cells and how they work.

Parts of The Immune System

Let’s look at the immune system a little closer.  It is divided into two categories which are called the innate and adaptive immune systems.

The innate immune system is the first line of general defense. 

The the adaptive immune system is our second, more specific defense system. 

If the innate immune system

Is not successful in destroying the pathogens (bad guy germs), about four to seven days later the more specialized adaptive immune response kicks in.  They work together but with different jobs.

There are dangerous bacteria, viruses, parasites and toxins everywhere that can harm us.  The innate immune system defends no matter what the invader and are usually always working.  It is the first to sense these attackers and also the first to detect the cuts, scrapes, burns, wounds of our body.  It activates cells to attack and destroy very quickly, or to start the repair process.

This system consists of several defending elements including skin and mucous membranes, white blood cells, natural killer cells, enzymes and proteins.

The skin and mucous membranes are our first line of defense, but anything that gets past them are then attacked by scavenger white blood cells that eat and digest those bad guy germs, like little Pac Man hunters.

The Natural killer (NK) cells find cells that are infected by a virus or that have become tumorous and dissolve them using a substance that is toxic (poisonous) to cells. 

Natural killer cells come from the bone marrow.  Bone marrow is in the center of some types of bone, and is where blood cells are made.

NK cells attack the body’s own cells that have been infected by microorganisms, especially a bacterium causing disease, rather than the microorganisms themselves. They scan the body for anything that appears to be wrong with the body’s own cells such as tumors and viruses.

When a problem is detected, NK cells use specialized enzymes to punch holes in these cells and inject a chemical that causes the cell to die in a special type of cell death called apoptosis.  Apoptosis causes the cell to be taken apart rather than exploding which keeps the virus contained.

Can we somehow increase our NK cells?  An article called Activation of Natural Killer Cells by Probiotics seems to think we can.

The adaptive immune response

Is activated when needed and helps with continued healing and protection from future attacks.  B and T cells (highly specialized defender cells, kills bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells), are responsible for responding to specific bad guy germs based on previous contacts (memory). 

Thus the name, it adapts from memory of previous interactions.

The adaptive immune system is able to remember the antigens because it produces memory cells.

Antigens are a toxin or other foreign substance which starts an immune response in the body, especially the production of antibodies. 

Antibodies are a blood protein produced in response to a specific antigen.

This is also the reason why there are some illnesses you can only get once in your life, because afterwards your body becomes immune, meaning resistant to a particular infection or toxin because of the presence of specific antibodies or sensitized white blood cells.

Definitions of Mind Body Connections Part 2

White blood cells are also known as leukocytes.

Neutrophils (can ingest pathogens but too few neutrophils can invite infection).

Eosinophils (type of disease-fighting white blood cell with elevations possibly indicating a parasitic infection, an allergic reaction or cancer).

Basophils (immune surveillance, such as detecting and destroying very early cancers and wound repair, can release histamine and plays a role in the initiation of allergic reactions).

Mast cells (releases histamine when triggered).

Monocytes (fight certain infections and help other white blood cells remove dead or damaged tissues, destroy cancer cells, and boost immune responses).

Dendritic cells (stimulates T cells to take action).

Macrophages (recognize, engulf or “eat” and destroys or “digests” cellular debris, foreign substances, microbes, and cancer cells, to name a few) are all important first-line responders to infection.

Natural killer (NK) cells, (our bodies’ frontline defense system against cancer tumors, also launches attacks against infections) can provide immediate responses.

Neuropeptides are messenger molecules from different sites throughout the body that has the function of transportation.  They are small protein-like molecules (peptides) used by neurons to communicate with each other.

Neurotransmitters (acetylcholine, and catecholamines including adrenalin (epinephrine), norepinephrine, and dopamine to name a few) are the chemicals and hormones that help with transmission throughout the body.

Receptors are the sites on cell wall surfaces that are points of attachment for molecules,  neurotransmitters, hormones, antigens, and other substances (like medications).

Lastly in Mind Body Connections Part 2

This is brief, but try to use it as a starting reference to search for more information and pick apart pieces that are of interest to you. 

For example, if you are struggling with an infection, think about the T cells that fight infection, “like soldiers who search out and destroy targeted invaders”. 

What about wound healing?  This is where we can use imagery, to possibly help evoke the healing process.  We can use this to help with a general understanding of how our body works. 

In Mind Body Connections 3 we will look at how the hormone Cortisol affects our body.

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