Editing Sample

Excerpt from Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)d                      by Dr. Candace Pert with Nancy Marriott, published by HayHouse, 2006

As the “with” person on this book, Nancy assisted Dr. Pert in producing the text content, as shown in the following excerpt from the current book.

(Dr. Pert is an internationally recognized neuroscientist who is a former Research Professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine and Section Chief at the National Institute of Mental Health. She is in the midst of leading edge research on emotions and the bodymind connection. Dr. Pert appeared in the popular film What the Bleep Do We Know!?)

From Chapter 2: The New Paradigm Physiology

Receptor-ology 101
The nuts and bolts of how body and mind are one—the new-paradigm physiology—involves some simple biochemistry. To begin with, virtually every cell in the body is studded with thousands of tiny structures called receptors. Like the sense organs—the eyes, nose, and ears—the job of the receptors is to pick up signals coming at them from the surrounding space. They’re so important that a full 40 percent of our DNA is devoted to making sure that they’re perfectly reproduced from generation to generation.

Once the receptors receive a signal, the information is transferred to deep within the cell’s interior, where tiny engines roar into action and initiate key processes. Data coming in this way directs cell division and growth, cell migration for attacking enemies and making repairs, and cell metabolism to conserve or spend energy—to name just a few of the receptor-activated activities.

The signal comes from other cells and is carried by a juice that we call an informational substance. These juices from the brain, sexual organs, gut, and heart—literally everywhere—communicate cell to cell, providing an infrastructure for the ‘conversation’ going on throughout the bodymind. You know these juices as hormones, neurotransmitters and peptides, and we scientists refer to all three with one word: ligand. This term is from ligare, a Latin word meaning “to bind,” and is used because of the way that the substances latch on so tightly to the cell’s surface receptors.

Information-carrying ligands are responsible for 98 percent of all data transfer in body and brain. The remaining 2 percent of communication takes place at the synapse, between brain cells firing and releasing neurotransmitters across a gap to hit receptors on the other side. In What the Bleep . . . !?, audiences saw an animated electrical storm taking place in the brain to show what this synaptic activity looks like. But what they didn’t see is that there are neurons with this same electrical-sparking activity firing throughout the body, not just in the brain.

My personal favorite among the ligands are the peptides, which consist of a string of amino acids, joined together like beads in a necklace; larger strings of amino acids are called proteins. There are over 200 peptides mapped in the brain and body, each one sounding a complex emotional chord—such as bliss, hunger, anger, relaxation, or satiety—when their signal is received by the cell. I’ve devoted my 30-plus year career to studying peptides such as endorphins and other substances.

In addition, everyone should know that most ligands have chemical equivalents found outside the body, such as Valium, marijuana, cocaine, alcohol, and caffeine, to name a few.

You’ve now learned about the two components that make up this bodymind communication system—the receptor and the ligand. These are what I have called the ‘molecules of emotion.’ But how do the two find each other across the vast reaches of intercellular space, hook up—or bind—and then transfer vital information to affect cellular, bodywide activity?

We used to explain the attraction by a quality called receptor specificity, which is that each receptor is specifically shaped to fit one and only one ligand. A lock-and-key model helped with visualizing this method of connecting, or binding. The ‘key’ (a peptide) floats by until it finds its perfect ‘keyhole’ (the receptor). Key inserts into the keyhole, opening the ‘lock’ of the cell, and cellular activities begin.

While this is partially accurate, we now understand a more dynamic relationship between ligand and receptor, involving something called ‘vibratory attraction.’ Sitting on the surface of the cell, the receptor wiggles and shimmies, changing from one configuration to another in a constant state of flux. This dance creates a vibration that resonates with a ligand vibrating at the same frequency, and they begin to resonate together.

Cellular resonance—it’s like when you pluck one string on two different guitars in the same room—one will resonate with the other, both striking the same note. This creates a force of attraction, the way that peptides resonate with their receptors and come together to strike that emotional chord as they bind. And that’s when the music begins!

I’ve said that the emotions are the link between the physical body and nonphysical states of consciousness, and the receptor-binding site is where this happens! The attracting vibration is the emotion, and the actual connection—peptide to receptor—is the manifestation of the feeling in the physical world. That’s why I call peptides and their receptors the molecules of emotion.

What’s the result of all this activity? On a bodywide scale, the receptors are dynamic molecular targets, modulating our physiology in response to our experience. Emotions influence the molecules, which in turn affect how we feel. One example is that receptors wax and wane in number and sensitivity, depending on how often they’re occupied by peptides or other informational substances. In other words, our physical body can be changed by the emotions we experience.

And one last thing: We used to think that the peptides latched onto a single receptor, but we now know that receptors are often clumped together in tight, multiple complexes. Together, they form the walls of deep channels leading into the interior of the cell; and they open and close with a rhythmic, pumping action. As they move, these channels let substances in and out of the cell, setting up an ionic flux, or electrical current, which then courses throughout the bodymind.

One of the things that this current does is influence the firing ‘set point’ of neurons in the brain, determining the speed of brain-cell function. So you can see that the molecules of emotion are directly affecting how you think! If we were to show a cartoon version of this whole process—peptides binding, receptors pumping, electric current moving out—we’d see bright, colorful clouds of vibrating, singing, energy surrounding each cell; and we’d hear a chorus of resonating voices soaring in the background.

You may be wondering if these peptides and receptors, the molecules of emotion, actually produce the emotions, that is, Do they come first and then we have the feelings? Well, it’s not a cause-and-effect relationship. Rather, it’s happening simultaneously, all at once. Remember, these molecules are the emotions, not their cause. What we experience as a ‘feeling’ is the actual vibrational dance that goes on when peptides bind to their receptors, whether it happens in your conscious awareness or not. Below what we notice happening, a huge amount of emotionally mediated information is being exchanged throughout the body and brain, much of which never rises up into our consciousness. This is why I say: Your body is your subconscious mind.