Mind-body medicine is based on a rapidly developing area of care called psychoneuroimmunology, or PNI. Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of how the mind affects the body. “Psycho” refers to your thinking, emotions and mood states. “Neuro” refers to the neurological and neuroendocrine systems in your body. “Immunology” refers to your cellular structures and immune system.

Mind-body medicine explores the influence of your mind and emotions on your body and immune system, and vice versa. Mind-body specialists are typically social workers, psychologists or other mental health professionals who examine the affects of your mind, thoughts, attitudes and beliefs on physical health and well-being. Specialists use a variety of techniques aimed to promote health, such as deep breathing, guided imagery, relaxation therapy, meditation and yoga. Using these techniques, mind-body medicine helps you direct your energies toward healing and health.

Psychoneuroimmunology explores the connection between psychological and spiritual conditions and physical well-being. Some studies have suggested that addressing your psychological and spiritual health (including mood, attitudes, self-image and outlook) can help in the recovery process from cancer and other forms of disease.

Cancer treatment can be physically demanding and can sometimes cause side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, muscle tension and lost sleep. Mind-body medicine techniques may help reduce some of these symptoms. These techniques may become important tools in your peace of mind and well-being, and may help improve your quality of life.

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