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  Scientific and Literature-Based Basis for The MindBodySpirit Connection Series®

Like the meridians as they approach the poles, science, philosophy and religion are bound to converge as they draw nearer to the whole.
 -
The Phenomenon of Man
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (scientist, mystic)


We are returning to original beliefs that the mind and body cannot be separated.
 -
Timeless Healing
Herbert Benson, MD


In order to understand how healing happens, in the twenty-first century we shall look not only at our atoms and molecules but at consciousness as well. In so doing, we shall reinvent medicine, adding ancient wisdom to modern science. The result will be fabulously more successful-and fulfilling-than science alone.
 -
Reinventing Medicine
Larry Dossey, MD


We must also remember that the biggest problems for the human race in the future are those associated with our own behavior and misbehavior and the impact of the social and physical environment on our bodies and brains.
 -
Bruce S. McEwen, Ph.D, Neuroscientist, Rockefeller University

Statement

The last century has brought remarkable advances in biomedical technology and treatment. As a society, we have come to expect that effective treatments and cure should be available for most medical conditions. Yet, most of the symptoms, syndromes, and illnesses that people and patients experience cannot be explained by organic disease identifiable by currently available medical tests. Most of these "functional" symptoms and illnesses are related to medical labeling of symptoms as syndromes, stress and the stress response, the emotional brain and emotional distress, negative thinking and beliefs, and unhealthy lifestyle choices and behaviors.

Functional conditions provide all of us – people with symptoms, patients with syndromes, and doctors who care – with an opportunity to explore and understand the MindBody Connection and its interrelatedness to genetics (heredity) and the environment, both physical and social. The placebo response and capacity for self-healing represent the intersection and convergent common ground of ancient, traditional, complementary/alternative, and Western biomedical approaches to health, disease, illness, and healing. Furthermore, there is a scientific and neurobiologic basis of the MindBody Connection that is common to all healing traditions. Scientific evidence continues to confirm that there is a spiritual dimension to the connection and that spirituality and religion may be beneficial to health. The appropriate term is the MindBodySpirit Connection. It is no longer appropriate to separate mind from body, mind from gut or mindbody from spirit.

We have more power to heal ourselves than we may believe. MindBodySpirit Medicine and healing can be our common language.

Bibliography and References (annotated)

Biopsychosocial Model Of Health, Illness, And Disease

  • Ringel Y, Sperber AD, Drossman, DA. Irritable bowel syndrome. Annu Rev Med. 2001;52:319-38. Review.

Research-generated insights have led to the understanding of IBS as a disorder of brain-gut regulation. The experience of symptoms derives from dysregulation of the bidirectional communication system between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain, mediated by neuroendocrine and immunological factors and modulated by psychosocial factors. The biopsychosocial model integrates the various physical and psychosocial factors that contribute to the patient's illness. This model and the recently revised symptom-based criteria (i.e. the "Rome II criteria") form the basis for establishing a comprehensive and effective approach for the diagnosis and management of the disorder.

This site offers up-to-date information on functional GI and motility disorders for both the professional and the patient, and provides information on the Center and its research, training, and clinical treatment opportunities. It is co-directed by Douglas A Drossman, MD and William E. Whitehead, Ph.D, who are leading authorities in the field of functional gastrointestinal syndromes.

MindBodySpirit Medicine and Healing

  • Benson, Herbert. Timeless Healing: The Power and Biology of Belief. New York: Scribner, 1996.

Harvard’s Benson explores the intersection between objective science and the mystifying power of the human spirit. He shows how affirming beliefs, particularly belief in a higher power, makes a critical contribution to our physical health. One of his messages is that our bodies are "wired for God."

Harvard’s Herbert Benson, MD, has been a pioneer in MindBodySpirit Medicine. Numerous educational programs are available.

  • Dacher, Elliott. Intentional Healing: A Guide to the Mind/Body Healing System. New York: Marlowe & Company, 1996.

Harvard trained Elliott Dacher, MD presents a very sophisticated concept of four healing systems: homeostatic, mind-body, treatment, and spiritual. He emphasizes our power and potential to heal and provides practical approaches to healing.

  • Dacher, Elliott. Whole Healing: A Step-By-Step Program to Reclaim Your Power to Heal. New York: Dutton (Penguin Book), 1996.

Harvard trained Elliott Dacher, MD presents a very sophisticated concept of four healing systems: homeostatic, mind-body, treatment, and spiritual. He emphasizes our power and potential to heal and provides practical approaches to healing.

  • Mayer, Emeran. The Neurobiology Basis of Mind Body Medicine: Convergent traditional and scientific approaches to health, disease, and healing. International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD).

This 22 page monograph is an excellent overview of the emerging scientific understanding of the neurobiologic basis of mind body medicine. It can be ordered for $5.00 from IFFG by calling toll free at 1-888-964-2001 or by clicking here.

  • Sarno John. The Mindbody Prescription. New York: Warner Books, 1998.

Dr. Sarno, Professor of Clinical Rehabilitation Medicine at New York University Medical Center, has appeared on Larry King live and the television show, 20:20. He discusses the primary role that emotions play in illness and emphasizes that the mind and body are one, inextricably linked. His inspirational message is that we are stronger than we know and have more power over our body than we may realize.

  • Weil, Andrew.

Harvard trained Andrew Weil, MD, is considered to be a leading authority on complementary and alternative medicine. His website can be a useful resource of information: http://www.drweil.com/

Spirituality

  • Benson, Herbert. Timeless Healing: The Power and Biology of Belief. New York: Scribner, 1996.

Harvard’s Benson explores the intersection between objective science and the mystifying power of the human spirit. He shows how affirming beliefs, particularly belief in a higher power, makes a critical contribution to our physical health. One of his messages is that our bodies are wired for God. This is probably the best place to begin exploration of MindBodySpirit Medicine.

  • Dossey, Larry. Reinventing Medicine. San Francisco: Harper, 1999.

In 1993, Larry Dossey, MD, one of the pioneers of mind body medicine, changed our understanding of the healing process with his New York Times bestseller, Healing Words. Reinventing Medicine is a vision of the future of the practice of medicine that includes the scientific and medical evidence that the spiritual dimension works in healing.

  • Keonig HG, McCullough, ME, Larson, DB. Handbook of Religion and Health. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

What effect does religion have on physical and mental health? In answering this question, this book reviews and discusses research on the relationship between religion and a variety of mental and physical health outcomes, including depression and anxiety; heart disease, stroke, and cancer; and health related behaviors such as smoking and substance abuse. The authors examine the positive and negative effects of religion on health throughout the life span, from childhood to old age. Based on their findings, they build theoretical models illustrating the behavioral, psychological, social, and physiological pathways through which religion may influence health. The authors also review research on the impact of religious affiliation, belief, and practice on the use of health services and compliance with medical treatment. In conclusion, they discuss the clinical relevance of their findings and make recommendations for future research priorities. Offering the first comprehensive examination of its topic, this volume is an indispensable resource for research scientists, health professionals, public policy makers, and anyone interested in the relationship between religion and health.

The purpose of the Center is to conduct research that explores the effects of religious/ spiritual beliefs and practices on physical and mental health. This is an exciting new area of scientific inquiry, rapidly increasing in scope and depth.

Placebo, Thought, and Meaning

  • Brody, Howard and Brody, Daralyn. The Placebo Response: How You Can Release the Body's Inner Pharmacy for Better Health. New York: Cliff Street Books, 2000.

Dr. Brody is a professor of family practice and philosophy and director of the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences at Michigan State University. This is an excellent book on MindBody healing, and particularly about meaning, or the way we interpret and make sense of events.

Stress And Stress Response

  • McEwen Bruce S. Protective and damaging effects of stress mediators. New England Journal of Medicine (January 15, 1998);338:171-179.

This landmark review of the human stress literature in the world’s most prestigious medical journal explains the key concept of the protective and damaging effects of the response of the MindBodySpirit Connection to stress. There are many mechanisms, but among the most prominent are the manifestations of physiological stress responses as a result of living and working conditions, inter-personal conflict, as well as the sense of control of one’s environment and optimism/pessimism toward the future. "Allostatic load" refers to the cost of adaptation to a stressful environment, which elicits repeated and sometimes prolonged adaptive responses ("allostasis") that preserve homeostasis in the short run but can cause wear- and-tear on the body and brain. Functional symptoms and syndromes, decreased cognitive function during aging as well as abdominal obesity and increased risk for hypertension and cardiovascular disease, insulin-dependent diabetes and decreased immune responses are all manifestations of allostatic load.

We have powerful ways of modulating the harmful output of the stress response systems that include belief systems and behaviors. An important quote attributed to Dr. McEwen is, "We must also remember that the biggest problems for the human race in the future are those associated with our own behavior and misbehavior and the impact of the social and physical environment on our bodies and brains."

  • Sapolsky Robert M. Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers. New York: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1998.
  • This is a good book about the science of stress, how the body handles it, and what to do about it. The book is easy to read and explains how our bodies are not designed for the constant stresses of modern day life. Rather, they seem more built for the kind of short-term stress faced by a zebra when outrunning a lion.

  • Salt WB II. Stress. in Encyclopedia of Gastroenterology. Leonard R. Johnson, Editor-in-Chief. San Diego: Elsevier Academic Press, November, 2003.

Emotional Brain

  • LeDoux, Joseph. The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life. New York: Touchstone Books, 1998.

This book provides a lucid discussion of the emotional stress response systems of the MindBodySpirit Connection. A very important observation made by Joseph LeDoux, a neuroscientist at New York University, is that the expression of stress and emotion in the body is not necessarily accompanied by cognitive and conscious awareness of anxiety or of fear. In other words, when stress triggers an emotional fear response expressed in the digestive tract as pain, cramping, and disturbances of bowel function, or in the muscles as pain and discomfort, the gastrointestinal and bodily distress may or may not be accompanied by a mental sense of fear or of anxiety. This makes it easier to understand how depression can be associated with many different bodily symptoms, and how these bodily symptoms may not be associated with much if any sadness or depression of mood. Dr. LeDoux’s website is www.cns.nyu.edu/home/ledoux/.

  • Mayer, EA, Naliboff B, Munakata J.The evolving neurobiology of gut feelings. Prog Brain Res. 2000;122:195-206. Review.

The bi-directional communication between limbic regions and the viscera play a central role in the generation and expression of emotional responses and associated emotional feelings. The response of different viscera to distinct, emotion-specific patterns of autonomic output is fed back to the brain, in particular to the cingulofrontal convergence region. Even though this process unfolds largely without conscious awareness, it plays an important role in emotional function and may influence rational decision making in the healthy individual. Alterations in this bi-directional process such as peripheral pathologies within the gut or alterations at the brain level may explain the close association between certain affective disorders and functional visceral syndromes.

  • Sarno John. The Mindbody Prescription. New York: Warner Books, 1998.

Dr. Sarno, Professor of Clinical Rehabilitation Medicine at New York University Medical Center, has appeared on Larry King live and the television show, 20:20. He discusses the primary role that emotions play in illness and emphasizes that the mind and body are one, inextricably linked. His inspirational message is that we are stronger than we know and have more power over our body than we may realize.

Models Of Functional Illness

Gastrointestinal

  • Mayer EA. Emerging disease model for functional gastrointestinal disorders. Am J Med 1999 Nov 8;107(5A):12S-19S.

In response to perceived or experienced change that is considered threatening to the individual, the central nervous system mounts a stereotypic response that decreases the sensitivity to pain, modulates the autonomic nervous system outflow, and activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This response of the "emotional motor system" may or may not be associated with the conscious experience of feelings of fear or anxiety. Alterations in these response systems (either up- or downregulation) may produce symptoms, such as viscero-somatic hypersensitivity, altered bowel habits, or increased anxiety.

A multidisciplinary program dedicated to the practice, teaching and science of mind, brain and body interactions and women's health.

Fibromyalgia

  • Clauw DJ, Chrousos GP. Chronic pain and fatigue syndromes: overlapping clinical and neuroendocrine features and potential pathogenic mechanisms. Neuroimmunomodulation. 1997 May-Jun;4(3):134-53. Review.

Patients with unexplained chronic pain and/or fatigue have been described for centuries in the medical literature, although the terms used to describe these symptom complexes have changed frequently. The currently preferred terms for these syndromes are fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, names which describe the prominent clinical features of the illness without any attempt to identify the cause. This review delineates the definitions of these syndromes, and the overlapping clinical features. A hypothesis is presented to demonstrate how genetic and environmental factors may interact to cause the development of these syndromes, which we postulate are caused by central nervous system dysfunction. Various components of the central nervous system appear to be involved, including the hypothalamic pituitary axes, pain-processing pathways, and autonomic nervous system. These central nervous system changes lead to corresponding changes in immune function, which we postulate are epiphenomena rather than the cause of the illnesses.

The Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center brings together nationally renowned clinicians and investigators dedicated to the research and mechanisms of Chronic Multi-symptom Illnesses (CMI), such as Fibromyalgia (FM) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). The Center uses a multidisciplinary approach to examine the role that central nervous system dysfunction plays in chronic pain and fatigue syndromes.



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