Studies have shown that neurons in the brain of a chronically stressed person actually have shorter and fewer dendrites impairing communication between nerves. This impairment affects our ability to process information. Every thought we have produces a chemical that either affects us positively or negatively. Dr. Caroline Leaf says the neurons are tree like in nature and that negative thinking makes them look dark and dingy almost thorn like . Positive faith base thoughts return the neurons to their normal tree like state (Who Switched Off My Brain-Dr. Caroline Leaf). Dr. Daniel Amen has found through his study that negative thinking can affect the cerebellum producing balance issues. Our thought are very powerful.
During a stressful event or illness, hormones from the pituitary and adrenal glands are released. The hypothalamus causes the level of cortisol to rise to help us with this stressful situation. The brain uses cortisol to suppress the immune system and decrease inflammation. Chronic stress causes the brain to continue to suppress the immune system basically telling it to stop fighting. Interestingly, these stress hormones (cortisol and adrenalin) can even cross the placenta affecting the unborn child. The hypothalmus-pituitary-adrenal system releases neurotransmitters called catecholamines which activate the amygdala and triggers an emotional response usually fear. The amygdala is in the limbic system and in a perceived threat releases noradrenaline into the brain and adrenalin into the body. This is call the Flight or Fight response. As you may remember from our previous discussion, this Flight or Fight response releases chemicals that raise our heart rate, increase muscle tension, slow digestion, increase hormonal temperature, increase breathing, and increase blood flow. Cortisol is released as well releasing glucose from the liver and breaking down tissues to release fat in blood stream to supply muscles with nutrients. Cortisol inhibits protein uptake by 70% while breaking protein supplying energy to muscle cells (The Powerful Impact of Stress-Victoria Tennant).
To further emphasize the powerful effects of stress on our immune system, let’s look at a paper written by Dr. Robert L. Elliott. Dr. Elliott is a breast cancer specialist who published a paper entitled “Host Immunity Ignored in Clinical Oncology: A Medical Opinion”. In this paper he discusses the stress involved when a person is diagnosed with cancer. A host of emotions such as anger, fear, depression and anxiety are triggered which may affect the outcome for the patient. He states that in cancer treatment there are what he calls the Big Three”: Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. He believes a fourth should be considered in the care of cancer patients and it is immunotherapy. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation cause inflammation which in turn affects our immune system hence our ability to fight off disease. His interest in host immunity began after one of his young 35-year-old cancer patient had recurrent disease after being disease free just 6 weeks before. She return to see him with nodules on her chest wall which turned out to be recurrent disease. Further investigation revealed that she had been under significant stress finding her husband in bed with another woman. Dr. Elliott concluded that stress plays a major role in our body’s ability to fight infections and or cancer. This began his research on host immunity and the developing several vaccines to boost patient’s immunity and help them fight cancer.
I believe that Dr. Elliott has given us a great example of how a broken spirit dries up the bones. In the days to come, we will look at fear and condemnation as the root of most of our diseases. May the Lord bless you and keep you in perfect peace!
Philippians 4:7 (AMP) And God’s peace (that peace which reassures the heart, that peace) which transcends all understanding, (that peace which stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (is yours). Al