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Mind governs skin's reactivity to allergies

Thursday January 19, 2012 07:12:17 PM, IANS

Sydney: A harmonious mind-body connect, the key to good health, also seems to determine how your skin reacts to allergies.

A team of neuroscientists have found that if someone does not care about a part of their body, their immune system will also respond accordingly, treating it as 'non-self' rather than 'self.'

These findings could explain autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis (degeneration of nerves), neurological and psychiatric conditions, such as stroke, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, anorexia (eating disorder characterized by fear of weight gain and bulimia (binge eating among women).

In two different experiments, Lorimer Moseley, professor from Neuroscience Research Australia and his team, delivered histamine to the arms of healthy volunteers believing that their real arm had been replaced by a rubber one, the journal Current Biology reports.

Histamine is a chemical the body produces during an allergic reaction. They compared the size of the allergic response on the arm that had been 'replaced' to the response on the other arm, and also the response on both arms during a control condition that had no illusion, according to a Neuroscience Research statement.

They found that during the illusion, the response to histamine was bigger on the arm that had been replaced by the rubber one. "This remarkable effect of a histamine response confined to one arm and dependent on the illusion might be a kind of neglect involving the immune system," says Moseley.

The finding builds on another discovery by Moseley's team that the rubber hand illusion induces a small drop in blood flow and therefore skin temperature in to the real, 'disowned' hand.

"Such a finding is particularly relevant to the immune system because a primary role of the immune system is to discriminate self from non-self," says Moseley.

"These findings strengthen the argument that the brain exerts some kind of control over specific body parts according to how strongly we own them," he says.




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