Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is a field of study that explores the interactions between psychological processes, the nervous system, and the immune system. The term is derived from three major components:
In essence, psychoneuroimmunology investigates how the mind and emotions influence the nervous and immune systems and how these interactions impact overall health. Researchers in this field examine the bidirectional communication between the brain and the immune system, studying how stress, emotions, and mental states can affect immune function and vice versa.
The findings from psychoneuroimmunology research contribute to our understanding of how mental and emotional well-being can influence physical health and susceptibility to illness. It has implications for fields such as medicine, psychology, and immunology, providing insights into the complex connections between mind and body.
What role do fascia and the interstitium play in psychoneuroimmunology?
Fascia and the interstitium are connective tissue components in the body that have gained attention in various fields, including psychoneuroimmunology (PNI). While research is ongoing, here are some potential connections between fascia, the interstitium, and psychoneuroimmunology:
Communication Pathways: Fascia and the interstitium are involved in communication within the body. They provide a network that allows signals to be transmitted between different tissues and organs. This communication system may play a role in the bidirectional communication observed in PNI, where psychological factors influence the immune and nervous systems.
Inflammation and Immune Response: Both fascia and the interstitium are associated with the regulation of inflammation. In PNI, chronic stress or psychological factors can contribute to inflammation, and understanding how fascia and interstitial tissues are involved in immune responses may provide insights into the link between mental states and immune function.
Neurotransmitter Release: Fascia contains sensory receptors, and the interstitium has been found to contain nerves. These structures may contribute to the release of neurotransmitters and other signaling molecules. The communication between the nervous system and the immune system, a key aspect of PNI, may involve these tissues.
Tension and Stress Response: Fascia is involved in providing structural support and maintaining tension in the body. Chronic stress or psychological tension can affect the fascial system. Understanding how changes in fascial tension relate to stress responses and the subsequent impact on immune function is an area of interest in PNI.
It's important to note that while these connections are being explored, understanding the precise roles of fascia and the interstitium in psychoneuroimmunology is still an evolving area of research. The interplay between psychological factors, the nervous system, the immune system, and connective tissues is complex and multifaceted. Finding metanalyses to cite this information directly is not available since this line of research is so new. The following are a few examples of where these conclusions/hypotheses are being drawn.
Ball, T. M. (2011). Structural integration-based fascial release efficacy in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): Two case studies. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 15(2), 217–225. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbmt.2010.10.006
Lupus is an autoimmune disorder. Though this article explores this one disorder, there are many other articles that explore the role of fascia and autoimmune processes.
Bordoni B, Zanier E. Clinical and symptomatological reflections: the fascial system. J Multidiscip Healthc. 2014 Sep 18;7:401-11. doi: 10.2147/JMDH.S68308. PMID: 25258540; PMCID: PMC4173815.
The Bordoni article talks about mechanical stress and inflammation’s role in interacting with the fascia system. I would argue that psychological stress is the same as mechanical stress because people generally tense and brace against stress. Bracing and tensing happen in the muscles and fascia, adding mechanical stress to the body.
Poshattiwar RS, Acharya S, Shukla S, Kumar S. Neurological Manifestations of Connective Tissue Disorders. Cureus. 2023 Oct 16;15(10):e47108. doi: 10.7759/cureus.47108. PMID: 38022020; PMCID: PMC10646945.
^ This is an article that explores the connection between neurological and connective tissue functions, albeit by means of pathology.
Gabor Mate, especially his book “When the Body Says No”, is a great resource for a more narrative exploration of PNI and the manifestations of “dis-ease” that result from stress.
Exploring the connection between the fascia, psychology, neurological activity, and immunological processes provides an increasingly clear lever for healing trauma, its many challenging health manifestations, and a pathway forward to a sense of well-being in general, trauma or not. Ultimately, this budding research encourages us to keep moving, stretching, breathing, and developing our powers of attention and consciousness.