The application of the Science of Psychoneuroimmology
(PNI) gives great new hope to those who suffer from chronic pain
and/or chronic fatigue. PNI is a multi-disciplinary field which
also utilizes basic science from fields such as immunology, immunophysiology,
neurobiology, endocrinology, psychopharmacology, social psychology,
neurochemistry, and many others. PNI provides: new explanation of
how and why pain and/or fatigue can become chronic, and what is
truly successful treatment. As anyone who has chronic pain or fatigue
knows, treating chronic pain the same as acute pain does not work.
Reducing chronic inflammation by changing Health Behaviors works.
|PNI gives evidence and theory that the source of chronic pain
and fatigue is frequently chronic inflammation. Chronic pain
and/or fatigue are often symptoms of chronic inflammation. Chronic
inflammation can affect any organ. Improving Health Behaviors
reduces inflammation. Health Behavior can be greatly improved
through the application of PNI to daily lives. This application
needs to be highly individualized. Personal responsibility,
social support, and education are the keys for real change.
When concretely applying PNI to the problem of chronic inflammation-pain-fatigue
there are at least six kinds of Health Behaviors which when
changed can have a dramatically positive affect:
- Social connection
- What we do to achieve a personal sense of purpose and meaning
- Patterns of emotional and cognitive reaction
- How we use our bodies to perform activities of daily living
- What we do or do not put into our mouths.
- Our Spiritual life has a significant affect.
Applied PNI is the current frontier in the struggle
against chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is now also being
targeted as the underlying process in diseases such as Heart Disease,
Diabetes, Cancer, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Arthritic
Diseases, and Asthma (Time Magazine. February, 23, 2004).
Indigenous peoples all over this planet have always
held that our health is a function of how we live (in relation to
the natural, social, material, and spiritual world). What is so
exciting for those who suffer from chronic inflammation, and somewhat
revolutionary for Western science, is that PNI is providing theory
and experimental studies which see with the most recent technology,
cell-organ function affected by perception-emotions-thought-behavior
and visa versa.
PNI focuses on the interrelationship of emotion-thought-behavior,
and bodily function (physiology and anatomy), as well as how
these interactions affect health. The discovery of, and research
on, the bi-directional interactions of Immune, Endocrine,
and Nervous Systems by PNI provides the current scientific
basis for understanding connections between behavior and health.
George F. Solomon, M.D., a psychiatrist, started the
first “Psychoimmunology Lab “at the Palo Alto Veteran’s
Hospital (associated with Stanford University) in 1964. He is often
considered “a founding father” of PNI. He coined the
term “Psychoimmunolgy” in the 1950’s from his
observations of how profoundly personality affected disease including
the body’s response; the Immune System. Dr. Gallup was fortunate
enough to have direct contact with Dr. Solomon in the mid-1970’s,
which significantly affected Dr. Gallup’s practice, approach,
and ability to help people.
In 1984, Candace Pert, Ph.D. (brain biochemistry,
and clinical neuroscience, discovered the opiate receptor) and Michael
Ruff, Ph.D. (immunology) presented the fledgling PNI field a basic
scientific language based on the model of neuropeptides and their
receptors. This occurred at a scientific conference on “Endorphins
and Opiate Receptors in the Periphery,” in Rome. It was at
this conference that the term “Psychoneuroimmunology”
(PNI) was officially taken. Peptides (chemicals produced by the
body) and their receptors are a major way the Immune, Endocrine,
and Nervous Systems (and all systems) communicate with each other.
Peptides are chemicals which when received by a cell can change
the action of that cell. They travel through various body fluids
such as blood. This information network links all cells and organs.
These understandings have helped provide a qualitative leap opening
theoretical and experimental doors. Prior to PNI, Western medical
science had held that the Immune System was the only body system
that was not in communication with the nervous system. In fact,
anti-inflammatory or pro-inflammatory chemicals (cytokines) are
peptides made by immune cells wherever they are in the body, including
Sickness Behavior is a result of immune cells
making pro-inflammatory cytokines such as Interleukin 1Beta
(IL-1B). The affects of IL-1B or other pro-inflammatory cytokines
on other cells, such as nervous system cells, can result in
sickness behavior such as pain, fatigue, depression, impaired
memory, and impaired muscle function such as reduced coordination
and strength. Cytokines are peptides which circulate through
body fluids such as blood. They usually then target the most
vulnerable organ or organs.
Reducing inflammation by changing our behavior puts
the focus on cause rather than only symptoms (sickness behavior).
There are now giant clues which point towards specific tools to
be used, and behaviors which when changed can dramatically reduce
or eliminate chronic inflammation and symptoms such as anatomical
changes, pain, fatigue and depression. Changes in Health Behaviors;
change in Lifestyle, is often the best, and sometimes the only way,
to successfully treat the chronic inflammation which causes the
pain. Learning the Health Behaviors which stimulate the body to
produce anti-inflammatory substances, while reducing the production
of pro-inflammatory substances is what can truly lead to lasting
change and dramatically improved quality of life. Developing an
individualized program is the method.