How We Heal

“Natural Forces within us are the true healers of disease”

Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine

What are these natural forces within us? They are our thoughts, actions, and how we live our lives on a daily basis. Our ability to love, forgive, and be grateful cultivates peace and contentment. Accepting ourselves and others with compassion and kindness, nurtures body and soul. When we are with others, interconnected, building and maintaining strong relationships we are healthier. The natural forces within us are the human spirit.

Our potential for achieving and maintaining good health and well being is rooted in our spirituality. We know that gratitude, compassion, and love promote good health. Now Medical science is better understanding how our spirit and emotions directly impact our health and well being.

A recent study conducted jointly by the University of Kansas and Gallop World Poll gives us an understanding of the association between health and emotions. The research reveals that positive emotions are very essential for maintaining god physical health and well being. The research was conducted on more than 150,000 adults worldwide. The participants were asked questions regarding whether their basic necessities, food, shelter and personal safety were adequately fulfilled. Various emotions like happiness, sadness, and worry were questioned as well as physical health problems including, pain, and fatigue were asked. The researchers were surprised to discover that the link between emotion and physical health was greater than the association between health and basic requirements like food. Even without adequate shelter or food, positive emotions were shown to boost health. The link was also strongest in the poorest countries surveyed. [1]

A research study funded by the National Institute on Aging found that psychological wellbeing has a positive impact on long term health and well being among the economically disadvantaged. Lack of formal education was once believed to be a powerful predictor of poor health and relatively early death. Researchers are now finding that if you feel good about yourself, have a sense of purpose in life, accept your current life situation, and have strong relationships with others you are less likely to suffer ill health. [3]

Until recently, most of the research looking at the relationship between mental health and physical health focused on how psychopathology (depression and anxiety) impacted physical health. Now studies are finding that happier youths are healthier youths. Positive emotions and moods, self satisfaction with one`s life are just as or perhaps more important in determining future health. In a study conducted by University of South Florida is one of the first to look at both positive and negative indicators of mental health in relation to physical health. Overall good physical health was strongly linked to life satisfaction, feeling proud, and having strong interpersonal relationships. [2]

Three physiologic factors are needed for the body`s ability to maintain balance- good health: controlling inflammation, building the immune system, and cell structure/longevity. Our emotions and spirit affect these three factors are at the core of well being.

Positive emotions boost the immune system-especially the production of T-cells which gives us the ability to prevent and fight off infections. T-cells and all the cells in the human body have sequences of DNA at the end of their chromosomes which is responsible for the structure and integrity of each cell. This sequence of DNA is called a telomere. These telomeres tend to shorten each time a cell divides. When telomeres drop below a certain length the cell dies. Telomerase is an enzyme that has the potential to promote longevity of cells in our immune system and is activated when we feel content (happy) and at peace. The role of telomerase is to rebuild and lengthens telomeres. Telomerase activity is linked between psychological stress and physical health.

It is well known and accepted that prolonged, excessive, and or chronic stress is a causative factor in many acute and chronic illness and disease including; Diabetes, Hypertension, and Heart Disease and are the most prevalent health problems especially in the United States.

Inflammation is the human body`s natural response to potentially harmful situations and when utilized properly physiologically it is a protective mechanism when we are in dangerous situations. Frequent or chronic stimulation of the inflammatory response system, such as chronic stress, increases our risk for associated illness and disease. A research study conducted by the National Heart Lung and Blood institute found a direct connection between depression and the recurrence of Cardiac events. In individuals who had a heart attack (Myocardial Infarction) depression following the heart attack often led to another major cardiac event within 6 months to one year. Depression increases the production of Interleukin-6, an inflammatory protein that affects the heart muscle and can cause a myocardial infarction (heart attack).

Our potential for achieving and maintaining good health and well being is rooted in our Spirituality. We are created to be well and enjoy good health. The power to heal ourselves and others resides within each of us.

Footnotes

1. Emotions Hold Sway over Physical Health, University of Kansas and World gallop Poll. Presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society Chicago, Spring 2010

2. Emily Shaffer-Hudkins, et al. How Adolescents` Mental Health Predicts Their Physical Health: Unique Contributions of Indicators of Subjective Well-being and Psychopathology. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 2010.

3. Jennifer A. Morozink, et al. Socioeconomic and psychosocial predictors of interleukin-6 in the MIDUS national sample. Health Psychology, 2010