1. What is the mind?
    The human consciousness that originates in the brain and is manifested especially in thought, perception, emotion, will, memory, and imagination.
  2. How then can thought and perception affect one’s health
    Thought is biochemical and electrical.  A meta-analysis of 83 studies published in the Ann Behav Med. 2009 June; 37(3): 239–256.Looking at the effect of optimism on health showed that not only did subjects feel subjectively better that even when the studies focused on objective health criteria such as mortality, immune function, cancer outcomes and even pregnancy optimism had significantly positive effect on health.  Numerous studies link depression and anxiety with increased risk of cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and cardiac arrhythmias
  3. What are some of the biochemical changes that occur that could help us to start understanding the mind body connection on most basic level?
    Our thoughts can affect us even on a genetic, DNA level.  Our thoughts can turn on and off the genes responsible for inflammation.  Think about it-Thought to inflammation and inflammation to disease.  What stronger mind, body connection is there?   Our thoughts can also affect us on a biochemical level as well.  Negative thoughts can decrease an important compound whose job it is to nourish and protect our brain cells or neurons.  Individuals with lower levels of this substance are more prone to depression and may also respond slower to treatment.  It is clear that our brain cells will be less protected and slower to adapt to change.
  4. Studies show that friendships and social interaction make us happier and healthier and even help us to live longer lives.  How do we begin to understand this on a basic biochemical level?
    Social interaction and bonding have been shown to increase levels of oxytocin, a compound that helps us to feel closer to each other.  This same chemical increases wound healing- mind, body connection.  Laughter improves our moods, we feel better, happier. Laughter also decreases inflammatory cytokines and stress hormone levels.  Inflammation has been linked to increased risk of chronic illness.  Elevated cortisol and adrenaline levels have been linked to poor memory, increased risk of diabetes and hypertension. Laughter as good medicine- priceless and a good example of  mind, body connection.