FROM BOOKS – Molecules of Emotion

Extracts by Don Benjamin

This is the title of a book by
Candace Pert. Published in 1999 as a Touchstone Book by Simon & Schuster,
New York, 1997. The importance of the book is that it explains in an easy to
understand way how the emotions control the cells of the body and thereby are a
major contributory factor to diseases such as cancer, coronary heart disease,
arthritis, etc.

According to Dr Pert the emotions are the
link between the mind (thoughts) and the body. Molecules of emotion run every
system in our body. This communication system is the body-mind’s intelligence
and it is wise enough to keep us healthy.

Before the discovery of
cell receptors it was believed that the main control mechanism for the body was
the nervous system operating via the brain, spinal cord, nerves and sensory receptors.
The sensory receptors activated the brain via messages sent via the central
nervous system. This process uses electrical impulses in the neurons, and two
chemical neuro-transmitters, acetylcholine and nor epinephrine, in the synaptic
cleft between the neurons. This caused the mechanism of the brain to be
referred to as essentially electrical.

The second mechanism
discovered more recently involves receptors on the cells, and neuropeptides
circulating in the extracellular fluid, the blood and the cerebrospinal fluid.
This gives rise to the concept of the chemical brain. The mechanism operates
over a longer time scale and over longer distances. It also allows these
information molecules to communicate across different systems, such as the
endocrine, neurological, gastrointestinal and even the immune system at
locations where they share channels. How does this second system work?

The two main factors in the
process are the cell receptors and the ligands made up of neuropeptides

The cell receptors are
large molecules made up of proteins, tiny amino acids strung together in
crumpled chains. The lie like lily pads on the surface of a pond, the cell
membrane, with roots enmeshed in the surface. They are sensing molecules or
scanners for the cell.

They are receptive to
“binding” preferentially with other substances diffusing through the
extra cellular fluid, like sex with a preferred mate on a cellular level. When
this substance touches the receptor it tickles it and arouses it to change
shape to suit the visitor. The ligand (or binding substance) and the receptor
strike the same note or frequency that rings a bell that opens the doorway to
the cell and information enters the cell.

In this way receptors are
the control buttons on the cell surface allowing substances flowing past the
cell to control the cell’s major functions – effectively linking the body’s
trillions of cells as integral parts of the organism’s brain. This chemical
brain acts in a similar way to the body’s endocrine system whose hormones can
travel the length and breadth of our bodies (p.139).

Events impact on
individuals in a way depending on how receptive they are to the event. A
traumatic event might not be accepted. It might become a repressed emotion and get
stored in the unconscious mind, ie the body, via the release of neuropeptide
ligands, and these memories are held in their receptors (p.147).

The immune system is also
involved because it can communicate not only with the endocrine system, but
also with the nervous system and the brain (p.164).

The mind then is that which
holds the network together, often acting below our consciousness, linking and
coordina-ting the major systems and their organs and cells in an intelligently
orchestrated symphony of life (p.185).

Disease is caused by
unexpressed emotions being stored. Disease-related stress produces information
overload, the mind-body network being so taxed by unprocessed sensory input in
the form of suppressed trauma and undigested emotions that it has become bogged
down and cannot flow freely. The autonomic nervous system, regulated by peptide
flow (such as breathing, blood flow, immunity, digestion and elimination)
collapse upsetting the normal healing process. Meditation, by allowing the
long-buried thoughts and feel-ings to surface, gets the peptides flowing again,
returning the body and the emotions to health (p.243).