The mystery of mind, faith, prayer and immunity


In search of miracles each year hundreds of thousands of pilgrims will travel to worship at the shrine near Lourdes, France. There in 1858 a 14 year old peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous had a vision of the Virgin Mary. It is claimed that in that vision the Virgin showed the young girl the location of a healing spring. A century later the Catholic Church was willing to verify one hundred authentic medical miracles that happened there at the shrine.

To the modern medical model the question of miracles still remains unanswered. Can our immunity be strengthened, diseases cured through the power of faith and prayer and its connection to the mind?

To better examine this question I decided to work backwards from what we do know to what may remain in the realm of the unknown or not knowable. Our immunity is vital to our survival and protects us from the invasion of foreign proteins, namely microbes that attack and weaken the system. It has been proven that our immunity is effected not only the physical but the psychological as well. This fact then opens the door to the idea that immunity and health can be effected negatively by stress, anxiety or worry or positively by prayer and positive affirmation.

Once assumed that the immune system was independent of the mind and the brain, it was thought that if certain immune cells were placed in a petri dish infected with microbes, they would launch an attack but they did not. The growing field of psychoneuroimmunology or PNI (the study of the mind body connection) has shown the immune system to be lost or unplugged without a higher direction.

Until fairly recently, medical science accepted without question the notion that the body and mind were separate entities, operating independently of one another. Researchers focused strictly on the physical aspects of illness reinforcing this dualistic thinking with sophisticated testing and medical treatments that looked only at the physical. Recent research in the field of PNI shows that the brain, endocrine and immune systems are inextricably linked by a series of neural pathways. These pathways form a vast communication network that enables mind and body to influence each other in very powerful ways.

Only now are we beginning to understand what older systems of healing have always known and accepted — where the mind goes, the body will follow. Our sterile term for this is psychosomatic, psycho meaning mind, somatic meaning symptoms. So, the next time your doctor tells you it’s all in your head, he is correct, but don’t take it personally.

So back to the original question, is it possible for us to gain some conscious control over our biochemistry and positively effect our immunity and health? At this point it is well understood that we cannot effect what we were given, our genes. But most if not all researchers conclude that at least to some degree our mood, healthy emotions, healthy ways of dealing with stress, like prayer and faith can positively effect our immunity, or what may be commonly known as a miracle. Till next time, Rebecca