By Darrin Haley
We have all heard that laughter is the best medicine since we were children. But could there really be some hard truth to this? Is laughter and positive emotion the key to curing and helping diseases like cancer and AIDs? Dr. Candace Pert’s research on neuropeptides seems to suggest that this is, in fact, a very strong possibility.
Peptides are amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, wired together and found all throughout the body. Neuropeptides are peptides controlled by the brain and are responsible for any type of communication throughout the body: brain to body, body to body, brain to brain, or body back to the brain. From this information, one can see that neuropeptides are a major part of body functions. All cells throughout the body use receptors that take in neuropeptides. Because immune cells receive neuropeptides like other cells in order to function, one can see the great effect neuropeptides have on a person’s health specifically due to the amount of neuropeptides at a site directly affecting the strength of the immune cell.
Pert’s research on neuropeptides has also shown that emotions influence the number of neuropeptides at a cell receptor site. The more positive emotions a person feels, the more neuropeptides are at an immune cell receptor site. Similarly, if a person has strong negative emotions, there will be fewer neuropeptides at the receptor site.
To this extent, in order to keep from getting sick, one should try to feel positive emotions every day and lead a more positive life. Consequently, repression of negative emotions also reduces the number of neuropeptides at a receptor site; therefore, one should not merely ignore their negative emotions but rather mend their negative feelings so they can feel positive emotion again. There is also some evidence that positive emotions could help people recover from more serious illnesses such as AIDs and cancers. On this point, one should encourage people with these illnesses to be more optimistic and positive rather than give up and feel negative emotions. In doing this, they will improve their chances of getting healthy again because they will allow more neuropeptides to locate to their immune cell receptor sites.
McGhee, P. E. (1999). Emotion: The key to the mind’s influence on health. Retrieved from: .
Darrin Haley is currently working to get his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Georgia College & State University and is currently on track to graduate in three years. He is aspiring to one day receive hiPh.D..D in Clinical Psychology and eventually open his own practice for teenage patients.
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