Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Immune System Can Be Controlled by Thought

Movies about psychics often show how they whisper a spell over a bleeding wound, and it skins over; or how they look closely at a terminally ill person, and he immediately gets better. Physicians call such healers charlatans.  However, recent studies have shown that some aspects of immunity indeed can be controlled by thought. In particular, our brain is able to influence the intensity of the allergic reaction. Such a fantastic conclusion was made by researchers from the University of South Australia. 

In an experiment, several healthy volunteers were injected with histamine, which is produced in large quantities by our immune system in the case of allergic attacks. Histamine was injected in the arms of the volunteers, but the experiment was organized in such a way that they thought that the drug was injected in a rubber doll. At the same time, a real injection was made in their other arm. Then the scientists compared the size of the allergic response on both arms of the participants, as well as the one of the control group that had no illusion. It turned out that when the volunteers thought that the histamine injection had been made to the doll, the effect of histamine on the arm that had been replaced by the rubber one was much stronger. It looked as if the brain ceased to follow the immune system because of the made injection. The illusion also provoked a decrease in blood flow and temperature in the allegedly replaced arm. “Such a finding is particularly relevant to the immune system because a primary role of the immune system is to discriminate self from non-self,” said Prof Lorimer Moseley, who led the study. “In this instance, the innate immune system is being up regulated in a manner consistent with rejection of the replaced hand.” “These findings strengthen the argument that the brain exerts some kind of control over specific body parts according to how strongly we own them,” he says. So, it could mean that in many ways the immune system is influenced by the consciousness. This discovery could also shed light on autoimmune diseases such as schizophrenia, stroke, autism, epilepsy, anorexia and bulimia, which are associated with a distorted sense of ownership over a patient’s body and in which the immune system ‘attacks’ the body.

Sources:
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

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