Modulation & Analgesia
Psychoneuroimmunology - The Mind/Body Link
A profoundly fertile interdisciplinary field of
research probes the intimate connections that exist between the mind,
the brain, the nervous system and the immune system. The phrase that
describes the interaction of the central nervous system and the immune
system is "psychoneuroimmunology" (96). Whereas western scientific's
previously simplistic and mechanistic world-view of matter, including
the body, would dissect and describe each individual organ, tissue,
and cell and ascribe a specific cause and effect to it, it has become
obvious that the chemicals in the body, and the body systems, are inter-related.
And, although the interactions of the mind, the nervous system and the
immune system cannot be termed simple, the emerging complexity inter-weaves
with a rather elegant wholism, in which simple molecules are modulators
and effectors in both the nervous and the immune system.
Pain Perception And Response
This inter-relation of the mind, the body and the
immune system is fascinatingly embodied in the phenomenon of pain perception
and response. In a simple example, pain is a warning signal conveyed
from cells at the site of injury via nerves to the brain. More complex
is the phenomenon of phantom limb pain, in which pain apparently emanates
from an amputated limb. The Gate Theory, proposed by pain expert Ronald
Melzack, suggests that there is a certain threshold of pain, influenced
by a variety of neuro-physiological and psychological factors,
Thus, how strongly the pain is felt, and what physical
and emotional responses are evoked, are determined by a myriad of parameters,
ranging from the context of the situation, our psychological state,
and our general physical and mental fitness.
In life-threatening situations, such as in war,
natural disasters such as flood or earthquakes, or traumatic catastrophes
such as mine disasters, nuclear accidents or hostage incidents, individuals
have been known to become endowed with an almost "superhuman" degree
of strength, courage and a seeming lack of pain until well after the
events when they can afford the luxury of being in pain. There have
been many inspiring tales of victims trapped for extended periods of
time in seemingly hopeless situations, who have virtually willed their
way to survival. The body seems to focus attention on the most life-threatening
stimulus - a headache seems to fade when one is knocked on the head.
Our response to pain can be modified by our moods
- somehow, pain feels worse when we are depressed, hopeless, alone and
unloved. When we are happy, fulfilled and free from stress, even severe
pain can be accepted with equanimity and not lead to a downward spiralling
of emotional depression. Pain can be modulated by a variety of mechanisms,
including simply distracting the focus of attention and becoming absorbed
in something else, by altered states of consciousness achieved through
breathing, exercise, meditation and hypnosis.
Components Of The Nervous System
The nervous system is a massive network which reaches
to almost every part of the body. Within different sites of the brain
are control sites for many body functions. The cortex, the outer "grey
matter" is the site where vision, hearing, calculations occur. Deeper
into the brain is the limbic lobe, site of emotions, such as anger,
fear, love, joy, stress. Still deeper is the hypothalamus, interface
between the brain and many peripheral regulatory functions. The hypothalamus
regulates many of the body's automatic or autonomic functions which
continue whether we are awake or sleeping, such as breathing, digestion,
heartbeat. The hypothalamus, highly concentrated with neurotransmitters,
communication molecules of the nervous system, also sends neurohormones
to the pituitary, which is the body's master gland, which, in response
to messages received by the hypothalamus, sends hormones to specific
organs throughout the body.
Chemical Messengers Of The Nervous
There are various molecules which act as messengers
to facilitate the transmission of information throughout the body. These
are termed neuroendocrines, neurotransmitters and neuropeptides. Amino
acids, in addition to being the building blocks of protein, are also
the precursors to small molecules which modulate the nervous system
by acting as neurotransmitters. For example, acetylcholine, which stimulates
nervous system function and also immune functions, is a general transmitter
between neurons, including nerve endings of skeletal muscle fibres.
A group of neurotransmitting molecules collectively
called catecholamines, includes dopamine, noradrenaline and adrenalin.
Deficiencies in dopamine have been noted in Parkinson's disease, leading
to muscular tremours. Yet another neurotransmitter is serotonin, which
is an inhibitory neurotransmitter involved in cognitive functions and
sleep cycles. Paradoxically, although serotonin exerts calmative effects
on the nervous system, it is overall an immuno suppressant. Another
group of molecules called neuropeptides, include the opioid (morphine-like)
peptides beta-endorphins and enkephalins. These peptides, which appear
to be the body's natural pain-relieving molecules, are released by the
hypothalamus in response to pain, and can profoundly modulate reactions
of the nervous system. Although their immune effects are not yet completely
known, it has been shown that beta-endorphins increase T-cell proliferation
and enkephalins enhance active T-cell rosettes (5).
Organic Germanium's Effect Upon
One of the most widely appearing "anecdotal" report
in case histories of patients treated either in Dr. Asai's Germanium
clinic, or with European physicians, is the alleviation of pain with
the administration of organic Germanium. This includes terminal cancer
victims, sufferers of arthritis, and angina patients. Dr. Asai himself
described the virtual absence of pain and the improved sense of well-being
associated with cancer surgery with taking large doses of organic Germanium.
One man with a cartilagenous tumour of the lung, underwent an angiogram,
which previously has been excruciating, without pain.
Since pain is also subjectively modulated by mood,
belief, hope, stress, etc., these reports of lessening of pain, might
be attributed to psychological factors rather than organic Germanium.
However, recent neuropharmacological data attained through laboratory
animal studies, has demonstrated concrete results attesting to organic
Germanium's neuro-modulatory and analgesic properties.
Organic Germanium's Modulation
The effect of Sanumgerman upon the central nervous
system in mice has been investigated (51-52), and has been found to
influence both the catecholaminergic and the serotoninergic systems.
Sanumgerman reduces levels of noradrenaline and dopamine and inhibits
their utilization in the brains of mice, while stimulating serotonin
and serotonin-turnover rates. Therefore, overall, Sanumgerman has been
found to exert an inhibitory effect upon the catecholaminergic system
and a stimulatory effect upon the serotoninergic central system. These
actions would explain some of the transient side effects sometimes seen
with Spirogermanium, such as lethargy, drowsiness, defective vision.
The stimulation of serotonin, which exerts a calming effect, can explain
the positive effects of feeling better which are consistently observed
with patients taking organic Germanium.
Organic Germanium's Analgesic
Effect Via Neuropeptides
Ge-132, administered to rats orally or by intraperitoneal
injection, enhanced the effects of morphine analgesia (37); the analgesic
action was completely blocked by naloxone, which is a stereospecific
opiate antagonist. This suggests that Ge-132 may activate the analgesic
system through an opioid receptor in the brain, activate dopaminergic
or serotonergic neurons in the analgesic pathway operated by morphine,
and release endogenous enkephalins or other neuropeptides.
Further elucidation of organic Germanium's analgesic
effects by Komuro et al, 1986, showed that derivatives of Ge-132 inhibited
the degradation of endogenous opioid peptides (enkephalin-degrading
enzymes) (56). In this report, twenty-eight species of Ge-132 derivatives
were examined for their inhibitory effects on these enkephalin-degrading
enzymes, purified from a number of animal and human organs and tissues.
Several derivatives inhibited the activity of dipeptidylcarboxypeptidase
from longitudinal muscle tissue, aminopeptidase from human cerebrospinal
fluid and dipeptidylaminopeptidase from monkey brain and bovine small
intestine longitudinal muscle. This evidence strongly suggests that
organic Germanium's analgesic effect comes about through preventing
the degradation of enkephalins, one of the body's natural class of pain-relieving