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Psychoneuroimmunology - PNI

One day in 1974, in a laboratory at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, a discovery was made that would redraw biology's map of the body. The discovery was serendipitous. Psychologist Robert Adler had been conducting a classic Pavlovian conditioning experiment, trying to teach rats to respond with aversion to saccharin-flavoured water.

His study had a simple design. The rats were given a drink of saccharin-laced water and then received an injection of the drug cyclophosphamide, which Adler gave them to produce nausea. But there was a problem. Many of the rats, although young and healthy, were dying. Adler looked into it and realized that the drug cyclophosphamide that he had been using to nauseate them were also suppressing their immune sytem.

-It seemed to Adler that giving the rats the saccharin water alone, without the immunosuppressive medication, was decreasing the number of T cells in the rat's bloodstream. Classical conditioning had triggered a learned association between between the taste of the saccharin and the suppression of T cells, so that later, when the rats tasted the flavoured water alone - their immune system reacted as though they were exposed to the drug itself. And that, in turn, made them more susceptible to disease.

Until Adler's experiment, anatomists, physicians, and biologists all believed that the brain and the immune system were separate entities, neither one being able to influence the functioning of the other. They were not aware of any pathway that connected the brain centres monitoring what the rats tasted with the areas of the bone marrow that manufacture T-cells.

Adler's experiments have now been repeated successfully, and his discovery has opened the way to identifying the links between the immune system and the central nervous system. As a result, science is finding out that there are many physiological connections between these two systems. These findings have generated the field of psychoneuroimmunology, or PNI: psycho for mind, neuro for the neuroendocrine system, and immunology for the immune system.


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Alfred Bellanti - Medical Herbalist, Clinical Hypnotist, NLP Master Practitioner, Time Line Therapy™Master Practitioner, Biomesotherapy/Biopuncture

(BSc, GrDipSc, DipCl Hyp, Dip B Med, PhD) - ABN 33 853 228 296

Clinic: 269 Bronte Road, Waverley NSW 2024, Australia

Tel: 61 2 9315 5764 Mobile: 0418 861 396 Email:


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