Initially, with the start of the book, one would feel the socio-political pinch he/she would undergo on the pathway to a Ph.D work followed by publication of a paper in reputed journals. There are lots of places in this book that describe the ordeal of a Ph.D student in science and does not sound interesting. A few chapters, thus, could be ‘fast-read’. However, there are a few enough new facts, metaphors and speculations in this book to astonish many readers. The field of psychoneuroimmunology, although based on exacting research, has had a hard birth. Its core idea is that the surfaces of cells are lined with many specific "receptors" to which only specific molecules can attach themselves. These molecules, in turn, are messengers through which the body and mind, as well as our neurons, glands and immune cells, are all constantly sharing information. It is so good to read about “information flow”, that is also a severe subject among the cosmologist and quantum physicists alike.
At its best, Molecules of Emotion is a lucid explanation of new research on the way peptides work to connect all aspects of body and mind in a network of shared information. To cite only an example, Pert explains: "For decades, most people thought of the brain and its extension the central nervous system as an electrical communication system . . . resembling a telephone system with trillions of miles of intricately crisscrossing wires." But new research techniques for studying peptides and receptors show that only 2 percent of neuronal communications are electrical, across a synapse. In fact, she writes, "the brain is a bag of hormones." And those hormones affect not only the brain, but every aspect of body and mind; many memories are stored throughout the body, as changes in the structure of receptors at the cellular level. "The body," Pert concludes, "is the unconscious mind!"
A major part of the book is about publication and persuasion of the work with the top scholars. That a peptide can block the proliferation of HIV was not reproducible at many drug labs leading to rejection of the AIDS drug which actually took the toll of the author. The last part of the book thus deals with Meditation, Energy flow, positive thoughts and Right food, which is in a sense very much essential to all the learners given the stressful life everyone is facing each day. From political lessons to science of the brain and its training for a stress-free life, this book would prove very useful to science students in particular and all learners in general. The days can always start with positive notes instead of chorus on chalant issues such as hell, devil, jealousy, prejudice, etc.
Here is what the chapters have to say:
Cell receptors are the interface between emotions and tissue. The cell’s brain is the receptors that float on its membrane. A neuron (nerve cell) may have millions of receptors. Candace Pert has spent her life as a scientist researching the receptors that sit on the cells. She explains how they work in the first chapter of her book. A receptor is a single molecule made up of strings of amino acids, like beads on a necklace, perhaps the most complicated molecule there is. (The 20 known amino acids make up protein and are manufactured in the ribosomes found in every cell.) A receptor vibrates and hums as it changes shape, waiting to pick up messages that diffuse through the fluids surrounding the cells. A ligand is the chemical key that fits in the receptor, in a process called binding, “sex on a molecular level.” About 95 percent of ligands are peptides, smaller strings of amino acids. Examples of peptides are insulin and hormones— excluding the steroid sex hormones. The second type are neurotransmitters such as serotonin, usually made in the brain to carry information across the gap (synapse) between neurons. The third type are steroids including testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. The chemical exchange of information molecules is a second nervous system, and the most ancient. It allows the different systems to communicate with each other (i.e., the endocrine, neurological, and immune).
Paul MacLean first described the brain as having three layers which represent evolution; first, the brainstem or reptilian brain (responsible for autonomic functions such as breathing and body
temperature). The limbic system encircles the top of the brainstem, the source of emotions and where trauma gets stuck. The cerebral cortex in the forebrain is the place we think and reason. Chimps have 99 percent of the same DNA as we do, but they don’t have a developed frontal cortex. It doesn’t fully develop in humans until the early twenties, useful to know when relating to teenagers. The brain’s food is glucose, carried in the blood, which fuels the neurons to secrete messenger chemicals neurotransmitters and neuropeptides) and the glial cells to work on the nerve endings in an “ongoing sculpting of connections.”199 Pert coined the phrase “molecules of emotion” in response to her finding that 85 to 95 percent of the neuropeptide receptors are found in the emotion centers (limbic structures). They include the amygdala (almond-shaped structures on either side of the forebrain, about an inch into your brain from your earlobes), hippocampus, and limbic cortex. Since the 1920s, researchers were able to stimulate strong emotions by electrically stimulating the limbic cortex over the amygdala. Pert’s group of scientists discovered that high concentrations of neuropeptides exist in most locations (“nodal points”) where information from the five senses enters the nervous system.
Receptors are also found on immune cells for almost every peptide found in the brain. Thus the immune system can send and receive information from the brain via the peptides, and the brain is another nodal point in the network. “Using neuropeptides as the cue, our body-mind retrieves or represses emotions and behaviors,” since change at the receptor level is the molecular basis of memory.200 Memories are stored in the body, as well as the brain, especially in the receptors between nerves and cell bodies called ganglia. We pay attention to some information and ignore the rest, as otherwise we would be overwhelmed. Pert deduces this means memory processes are emotion-driven and that emotions are peptide ligands. “Peptides are the sheet music containing the notes, phrases, and rhythms that allow the orchestra—your body—to play as an integrated entity.”
Memory and performance are, therefore, influenced by mood. “Emotional states or moods are produced by the various neuropeptide ligands, and what we experience as an emotion or a feeling is also a mechanism for activating a particular neuronal circuit— simultaneously throughout the brain and body—which generates a behavior.”201 Pert believes there is one kind of peptide for each emotion, just as endorphins are the mechanisms for bliss and bonding. We can consciously influence what goes on in the body, as by visualizing increased blood flow into a body part to increase oxygen and nutrients to nourish the cells. Pert believes “repressed emotions are stored in the body—the unconscious mind—via the release of neuropeptide ligands, and that memories are held in their receptors.”202 Emotions, then, “are at the nexus between matter and mind, going back and forth between the two and influencing both.”203 The immune system is composed of the spleen (the brain of the immune system), the bone marrow, the lymph nodes, and various white blood cells. Pert speculates that meridians may be the pathways followed by immune cells. Some of the immune system cells create antibody molecules to engulf bacteria, virus or tumor cells. Scavenger cells (macrophages which begin in the bone marrow as monocytes) clean up the debris after invaders are killed.
Macrophages also repair and heal tissue. Interferons, similar to antibodies, fight invaders, but they’re peptides made by white blood cells called lymphocytes. (Some are B cells, others are T cells). Ed Blalock found they sometimes secrete endorphin (a mood-altering brain peptide) and a stress hormone, which means the immune system acts like tiny pituitary glands.204 Pert and her team found receptors on immune cells for almost every peptide or drug found in the brain. Immune cells make and secrete neuropeptides, the same brain chemicals that control mood. The immune system can send information to the brain with immunopeptides and receive it through neuropeptides which hook up on receptors, the basis for the new study of psychoneuroimmunology. The brain, glands, and immune system are linked in an intelligent information network of neuropeptides and receptors which create emotions. This means “emotion-affecting peptides, then, actually appear to control routing and migration of monocytes, which are very pivotal to the overall health of the organism.”205 For example, in cancer, neuropeptides (which affect mood and behavior) signal the cancer cell receptors and cause them to grow and travel. Thus, cancer can be fought with peptides to block receptors, as when taxofilen is used against estrogen-dependent breast cancers. Viruses use the same receptors as neuropeptides to enter a cell.
Even if we don’t understand the details of the interaction between emotions and cell receptors, it’s important for healers to know the connection exists and that it can be influenced consciously. Here’s the quantum physics perspective from Deepok Chopra, MD, based on a talk he gave on November 4, 2006 in Chico. Further information is available in his recent books Book of Secrets and Life After Death, his website chopra.com, and his blog choprablog.com. He started an organization to global peace called Alliance for a New Humanity, ANHglobal.org. Chopra contrasts the new science, based on quantum physics, with the old mechanistic, reductionist, deterministic science which believes the development of life and its evolution over eight billion years was an accident, a product of matter. The new science believes there are no accidents because a consciousness pervades the universe which is not basically matter. Sub-atomic particles are fluctuations of energy, not matter. Our senses fool us into thinking what we experience is solid, predictable, and unchanging. What we perceive as matter is mostly empty with fluctuations of energy, information and intelligence.
In fact, we continually rebuild our bodies as atoms flow in and out, including atoms right now that used to be in the body of Jesus, Buddha, Hitler, etc. We make new skin every month, a new skeleton every three months, new DNA every six weeks, so that by the end of next year we will have replaced 98% of the atoms in our bodies. Everything changes although consciousness or soul outlives the death of molecules. Just as a movie or TV picture and reality itself appears to be continuous, it’s actually flashes of off and on at the speed of light. Without the off we wouldn’t perceive. In the quantum world of the off, there is no energy, information, or space and time, no objects. This is called quantum non-locality, as theorized by Bell’s Theorem and proved to be true in 1998. What exists is waves of infinite possibility where everything is connected and synchronized. This explains how events can happen simultaneously, as in the communication between the 100 trillion cells in the body which perform hundreds of thousands of activities each second. However, in this world of probability nothing is certain (Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle). Einstein rejected this notion when Heisenberg presented it to him, saying God doesn’t play dice with the universe. Stephen Hawkins recently said that God does throws dice and, furthermore, places them where we won’t find them.
Quantum leaps without going through linear space and time provides the basis for creativity in evolution, as when reptiles evolved into birds and chimp ancestors into humans. Einstein’s student John Wheeler said the universe doesn’t exist unless there’s an observer; quantum physics studies the “observer effect” on whether a potential state becomes a wave or a particle. It’s like electricity needs a positive and negative pole to activate. As the observers, we’re thus co-creators with God the creator. The world functions according to these five principles and so does our consciousness or soul, which is non-local or material. We create through uncertainties in a field of infinite possibilities where the space between thoughts is reality, not the sensations. We create our own reality with our thoughts, intention, awareness, what we focus on, and meditative exploration of the inner world.