March 6, 2011

Positive Thinking’s Impact on our Biology

Posted in Current Issues, Science and Relgion tagged , , , at 4:51 pm by tiffanyannbrown

A new, long-term medical study found that hospitalized patients diagnosed with coronary artery disease who had a positive outlook about their recovery were less likely to die over the course of a 15 year period and had better physical functioning after one year. According to an article from the Duke University web site entitled “You’ve Gotta Have Heart: Positive Outlook Increases Heart Patient’s Survival,”

Cardiac patients with optimistic expectations about their recovery were 30 percent less likely to die over the next 15 years than patients with less optimistic expectations, regardless of the severity of their heart disease, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center. This study is unique because it shows that a patient’s attitude toward their disease not only impacts their ability to return to a normal lifestyle but also their health over the long term and ultimately their survival,” said John C. Barefoot, PhD, the study’s lead author.

So is this just another obscure medical study citing heavily-skewed statistics, or could there really be some science behind this finding?  For more information, click here to view the ABC News clip interviewing Dr. Redford Williams, Division Head of Behavioral Medicine at Duke University.

According to Dr. Bruce Lipton, PhD who wrote the book The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles, positive thinking can have a direct impact on our biology. Having spent years conducting stem cell research, he’s concluded that our environment and not our DNA is that which affects life at the cellular level. His research at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, between 1987 and 1992, revealed that the environment, operating though the membrane, controlled the behavior and physiology of the cell, turning genes on and off.  His extensive study of cell life, including his 20 years of teaching the “History of Cell Biology” at various universities, has given him unique insight into the structure and function of our cells. He writes:

When we look into a mirror we usually recognize the image as our self, a single living human entity. But this is a misperception, because in truth the cells are the living entities. An individual human is actually close-knit community of approximately 50 trillion cells. Every cell is intelligent and can survive outside of your body by living and growing in a tissue culture dish.

However, when in the body, each cell is becomes an integral part of a community, working with the other cells that share the common vision of the community. The nervous system acts as a government that controls and coordinates the functions of the body’s cells. When the mind serves as a “good” government, the cellular community is in harmony and expresses health. If the mind is confused, angered, in fear or disturbed, it can destroy the harmony of the cellular community and lead to dis-ease or even death.

Just remember, your thoughts are sent to the body’s cells via neuro-chemicals and nerve transmission. If you are harsh on yourself, it’s your cells that are the ones that physically feel the brunt of your anger. Cell’s are generally very loyal, to the extent that if you so wish it, they will actually commit suicide (apoptosis in the cellular world). Positive and negative thoughts shape your biology, for your mind is actually “governing” 50 trillion cells.

Dr. Lipton’s discoveries, which ran counter to the established scientific view that life is controlled by the genes, presaged one of today’s most important fields of study, the science of epigenetics.  Epigenetics is the study of how environmental signals activate and regulate gene behaviors.  At its most basic, epigenetics is the study of changes in gene activity that do not involve alterations to the genetic code but still get passed down to at least one successive generation.  To learn more about epigentices, click here to read the Time Magazine article entitled “Why your DNA isn’t your destiny.”

Below is a video interview with Wayne Dyer discussing his research and findings:

This video provides more detail for anyone who may be interested in the science behind the power of positive thinking.

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