Doc Barb’s Health Corner July – August 2017

The healthy human has a functional immune system shares the planet with a multitude of organisms. Some of the organisms are dangerous, others are harmless and others are helpful. In the past decade, researchers have begun to seriously look at the details of the human intestinal function.   Pathology has used the microscope to examine the tissues of the intestines, which contain centers that produce immune cells.  Peyers patches (immune centers) show the interconnection between the multicultural bacteria in the intestinal gut. 

The immune centers are connected to the appendix through the lymph system and located at the junction of the ilium and the colon.  The Peyers patch centers are 80 percent of the immune system.  The other 20 percent of the immune system is found in the spleen, thymus, and the skin.  Through the Peyers Patch, “The body then prepares a full body-wide immune response to the pathogen before it is able to spread beyond the intestines.” (Prof. Taylor)

In the past 7 years, new research shows the brain has a direct connection to the intestines via the tenth cranial nerve (Vagus Nerve). This provides the explanation for how and why the thought of the mind influences the gut. Greater than 80 percent of the immune system is the small intestines, colon and spleen and clearly affects how one thinks and feels. The mind is a function of the brain and technically, the brain is part of the body. The body and mind are connected and affect each other. This fact has often been under appreciated in medicine mainly because the exact mechanism of how this works has not been known.

Taking care of the body, mind, and brain is important for every veteran to invest in eating well, meditation, and introspection. This is even more important for the veteran who has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because there is disharmony. Meditation and introspection helps to achieve balance with harmony of the mind and body.

For further information, I have previously written on achieving harmony of the mind and body with physiological pathways (refer to website articles). Email questions for Doc Barb to Susan

Tim Taylor, Anatomy and Physiology Instructor

**Barbara J. Houk, MD, Psychiatrist (board eligible), Fellow American Psychotherapy Association.  Dr. Houk has retired from clinical practice of Psychiatry. Her chief residency was in Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry (today known as Psychosomatic Illness Psychiatry) and retains the medical approach to the whole body through integrated medicine.

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