Mind-Body Medicine Theory

Recent Discoveries Suggest a Unified Theory of Mind-Body Medicine
Based on Oxidative Stress and Chronic Inflammation


  • Your brain responds in the same way to physical stress (e.g., sprained ankle) as to mental stress (e.g., breaking up with boyfriend or girlfriend)
  • Your brain communicates with your immune system and vice versa through a variety of neurotransmitters and other messenger molecules
  • Both unrelieved physical stress and unresolved mental stress result in oxidative stress
  • Oxidative stress occurs when your normal cell metabolism must work so hard that the toxic byproducts exceed the capacity of scavenger molecules to neutralize them
  • Although making up only 2% of your total body mass, your brain consumes at least 20% of your total energy, resulting in disproportionate oxidative stress when you experience mental stress or emotional conflicts
  • Oxidative stress results in chronic inflammation by persistent immune system activity
  • Most adult non-infectious chronic medical illnesses are driven by chronic inflammation
  • Your hippocampus, seat of learning and memory, is the only brain area that makes new neuron cells in adulthood, making it possible to unlearn traumatic memories
  • The main chronic inflammation messenger molecule, NFkB, inhibits your hippocampal capability making new memory cells, making it difficult to unlearn traumatic memories and learn a new “memory of the future,” i.e., set goals and feel optimism
  • Since repressed painful or frightening memories and their resultant unresolved emotional conflicts and negative self-esteem cause oxidative stress, these mental phenomena cause physical chronic inflammation and thereby medical illness
  • This implies that resolving the emotional conflicts is a necessary approach, among others, to relieve or heal both medical illness and mental distress
Gregory M. Gillette, M.D. 453-C Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe, NM 87501 (401) 489-5707