I just started a new class, “Newsworthy Topics in Contemporary Life Sciences,” with Dr. William J. Anderson (senior lecturer in stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard University). Much of my argument for the use of holistic treatments in addressing obesity, depression and generalized mood disorders hinges on the role of environmental influences in physical and psychological functioning (and the assumption that if environmental influences play such an important role in the development of a condition, they can likely play a significant role in addressing the condition after development).
In his January 27 lecture, Anderson offered an interesting example of the influence of environmental factors on developing rats. In summary: the amount of glucocorticoid in a rat determines its ability to handle stress (the more glucocorticoid receptors, the better). Now for the cool part: the amount of receptors in each rat correlated with the “quality of grooming and licking the pup experiences during the first week of birth” – in other words, the better the rat’s mom groomed/took care of it as a baby, the better the rat handled stress later down the road.
Just another example of the mind/body connection!
Anderson, W. (2011, January 27). Introduction; Stem Cells I. Lecture given in Newsworthy Topics in Contemporary Life Sciences, BIOS E-102, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.