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Mind-body connections

Mind-body connections
Hello, everyone. I’m Pei-Shan Tsai, a professor of Nursing from Taipei Medical University. For today’s lecture, I’m going to talk about Mind-Body connection. This is the outline that today’s talk. I will first introduce the relationship between stress and health. Mechanisms underlying Mind-Body connection will be discussed. Next, I will talk about Stress-related illness, mind-body interventions. Finally, I will present findings from a recent Meta-Analysis to give you some ideas on the effects of Mind-body interventions on sleep in cancer patients. Stress is defined as “any stimulus, such as fear or pain, that disturb or interferes with the normal physiologic homeostasis of an organism.” Chronic stress causes wear and tear on your body.
Stress is an important determinant of a person’s health The reason why stress causes illness remains illusive. However, potential mechanisms have been proposed to explain the link between mind and body. It is become increasingly evident that there exists bi-directional interactions between the brain and the peripheral tissues. Specific fronto-temporal cortical regions in the representation and control of adverse symptoms, which interact reciprocally with subcortical structures involved in bodily homeostasis and responses to stress. Bidirectional autonomic and neuroendocrine pathways transmit information between the central nervous system and the periphery and facilitate the expression of affective, autonomic, hormonal, and immune responses. A recent elegantly performed study by neuroscientists at the University of Pittsburgh uncovered evidence for the neural basis of a mind-body connection.
They have identified the neural networks that connect the cerebral cortex to the adrenal medulla, which is responsible for the body’s rapid response in stressful situations. In their experiments, the scientists traced the neural circuitry that links areas of the cerebral cortex to the adrenal medulla, which is the inner part of the adrenal gland located above each kidney. According to their findings, the biggest influences arise from motor areas of the cerebral cortex and from other cortical regions involved in cognition and emotion. These results indicate that circuits exist to link movement, cognition, emotion to the function of the adrenal medulla and the control of stress. This circuitry may mediate the effects of chronic stress and depression on organ function. This is the reference.
Stress-related conditions include: anxiety, coronary heart disease, depression, fatigue, fibromyalgia, hypertension, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, and posttraumatic stress disorder. These are just some examples. Mind-body interventions focus on the relationships among the brain, mind, body and behavior, and their effect on health and disease. Mind-body interventions encompass a large group of therapies. such as relaxation and breathing, tai chi, qi gong, yoga, meditation and biofeedback. Many of the mind-body interventions are thought to be beneficial for conditions where psychological stress is a factor. Now, I would like to share with you findings from a recent Meta-Analysis. This study was done by my research team We evaluated the effects of Mind-body interventions on sleep in cancer patients. This Meta-Analysis included 15 randomized controlled trials.
A total of 16 effect sizes were calculated. Mind-body intervention, evaluate in this study, including yoga, mindfulness-based stress reduction, mind-body bridging, meditation, hypnosis and qigong Mind-body interventions exerted a median effect size for sleep improvement in cancer patients. And these effects lasted up to three months. Here are some clinical points that we learn from this study. Sleep disturbance is a pervasive symptom in cancer patients that impairs quality of life. A Meta-Analysis of mind-body interventions among cancer patients yielded moderate improvement in sleep quality that persisted up to three months. Mind-body interventions should be considered as adjunctive or complementary therapies in the management of sleep problems experienced by cancer patients.
Future studies should continue to explore nonpharmacological and lifestyles interventions for symptom improvement in cancer patients. Thank you for your attention. Until next time, bye-bye

In various stages of complex diseases, ie. cancer, have you or your relatives experienced one or more of the following conditions?

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Hypertension
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

These might be related to “stress.”

In this video, Prof. Tsai will introduce some concepts of it. Readings mentioned in the video will be provided in the next session.


Prof. Pei-Shan Tsai, Distinguished Professor, College of Nursing, Taipei Medical University

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