Author: Lily Mazzarella
PSYCHONEUROIMMUNOLOGY (noun): A fancy word for "everything is related" and "it's all really one big system" 😂. Seriously though, the new-ish field of PNI offers some perspective on what I see all the time with my clients (and of course in my own body)—that the functioning of the nervous system impacts every other system, including the immune system, in real and measurable ways. So you may notice: you keep relapsing as you recover from a cold, or that grief lodges in your lungs along with that virus, or that you get hives before a job interview or that every time you stress blooms, so that nagging yeast infection. Or in a research setting: marital conflict drives up inflammatory markers. Stress and sleep loss decrease natural killer cell function.
Our bodies contain multitudes. We are hives of trillions of cells and "other" life forms (some of which we've incorporated into our own cellular machinery). Herbs enter this schema the way they know how—looking for what's working and expanding it. Nervines, for example, can help with a cold by taking down unnecessary limbic vigilance, allowing for the freeing of resources to swiftly create antibodies to rhinovirus. What does that mean for you? Your cold lasts 3 days, not 17.
The nervous system, immune system and endocrine system are all about COMMUNICATION. Stress crosses the wires, and creates static in the system leading to faulty cross-talk. Plant medicines clarify the conversation 😊.