The Western view.
Every individual is the result of subtle, nervous, endocrine, hormonal work, as psychoneuroendocrinoimmunology also confirms.
The endocrine system or hormonal system consists of a collection of glands and cells, which secrete substances called hormones.
The endocrine system administers the functioning of the human organism in competition with the nervous system.
The functioning of the endocrine system is characterised by a complex control aimed at precisely meeting the body’s needs. The following are part of the endocrine system: the pituitary gland, epiphysis, thyroid gland, parathyroids, adrenal glands, pancreas.
Other organs also have an endocrine function: the ovaries and testicles, the myocardium (part of the heart muscle), the kidney, the thymus, the liver.
The glands are all connected to the pituitary gland. It is through it that the modulation of hormones in the bloodstream takes place.
The pituitary gland itself is then cadenced by the hypothalamus which, by a complex mechanism, regulates multiple functions of the body such as circadian rhythms, reproductive activity, blood pressure and body temperature, as well as the autonomic nervous system.
The balanced functioning of the pituitary gland and hypothalamus, therefore, is crucial for the management of the entire body/mind system.
An optimistic and positive outlook will induce a good functioning of this axis and thus a correct calibration of the main hormones. Conversely, a pessimistic outlook will produce imbalances that will have repercussions at different levels, which suggests how much one’s worldview is connected to and influences one’s state of health.
Psychoneuroendocrinoimmunology (PNEI) delineates that field of research that includes several scientific-humanistic disciplines, apparently disconnected from each other, such as psychology, biology, neurology, immunology and endocrinology; in other words, the links that unite mind and body.
This science investigates the relationships between the psyche, the nervous system, the endocrine system and the immune system, which, through the transmission in the body of molecules called neuropeptides, interact seamlessly with each other.
Neuropeptides are called ‘psychic molecules’, as they do not only transmit hormonal and metabolic information, but emotions and psychophysical signals.
Every emotional state such as love, fear, pleasure, pain, anxiety, anger, etc., with its complex nuances, called feelings is conveyed in the body by specific neuropeptides.
The latter, with their receptors, have been found in every part of the body, especially in the blood, immune system and intestine, as well as in the nervous system.
We can therefore safely say that emotions and feelings not only participate in the memorisation of experiences, but are the guarantors of most of the neurophysiological processes that regulate or block the functioning of the entire mind-body system.
The cells that enable ‘self-consciousness’ are located in the brain; in particular, the structure involved in the integration of emotional stimuli is the limbic system.
Multiple researches indicate that the amygdala and the hypothalamus, which constitute the central part of the limbic (emotional) brain and are delegated to the government of emotions and memories, are the brain sectors where most information and emotions flow. In the middle of the same area is the pituitary gland, the gland that guides and modulates the functions of all the other glands in the body.
The limbic system establishes deep interconnections with the rest of the brain and with the body’s major apparatuses, such as the endocrine and immune systems, through the diffusion of neuropeptides, in which it is particularly rich.
Many neuropeptides are hormones and perform their task through the Blood: it is’ through the white blood cells of the Blood, for example, that the immune system is activated to receive and transmit neurotransmitter messages that will carry their messages of health or disease.
In the thymus, the gland located just above the heart, is, in fact, located the main seat of the complex T-lymphocyte generation mechanism.
Science has now amply demonstrated how, in the mammalian brain, positive emotions facilitate the activation of a series of reactions that trigger the functions of the immune system, whereas depressive states cause an inhibition of resistance
immune system. And from the Heart, through a complex mechanism, neurotransmitters go to influence the Hypothalamus.
Each neuropeptide is likely to recall a precise ’emotional tone’, corresponding to a specific psychic situation.’
We can therefore safely say that a correct practice of the so-called ‘medical gymnastics’, Tai Chi and Qigong, helping to increase the production and circulation of Qi in the body, simultaneously stimulates the circulation of Blood and emotions. Qi (Yang) is, in fact, but the most immaterial aspect of Blood (Yin), Blood that, in TCM, is charged with carrying the wills of the Emperor Heart to all bodily districts.
A serene Heart calms all its ‘functionaries’ (Zang/Fu), reducing stress, allowing us to grow as conscious individuals who do not unconsciously burn off the Jing, the ancestral energy, which was given to us at conception and which determines the quality and duration of our existence.