dimanche 15 avril 2018


HUMAN TOUCH  as a mystic, therapeutic and culturally relevant symbol, is receiving some scientific attention as well.
I have just left Cuba and one of the first things I note with nostalgia and a bit of sadness is that people don't touch each other in other countries 
In Cuba, a person who does not touch another would be considered an oddity and the children are taught to hug and kiss people from an early age . We kiss and hug each other when we enter the house of someone and when we leave, and also when we meet each other in public. This human warmth goes well with the Country's ethic about being a humane country.
So it was nice to hear the Indian mystic Sadhguru talk about the human touch. Here is a video from him.
Being an endocrinologist, I have long been interested in the abnormal elevations of hormones brought on by the increased pressures  put on individuals by the society. 
I had felt that both Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes are Social Illnesses in that the life as perceived by the individuals within the social structures they are in and sometimes  trapped in, can give rise to these diseases.
Can stress give rise to Diabetes Type 2? I would ask the American Indians gathered at some tribal clinic.
The answer would be a resounding YES
and they would add, we should know about the stress of living in this society.
Of course now the stress of living has extended not to just Indians living in the USA or the Aboriginal people living in Australia but to a broad spectrum of people living under different conditions all around the world.
The hormonal mediators of stress and its ill effects are well understood now, after scientists have worked out the mechanisms.
Stress can increase Cortisol
Cortisol can bring on Type 2 Diabetes
Cortisol can make people put on weight 
Cortisol can increase Blood Pressure

We should look for social solutions to damage caused by the society. Yoga and Meditation both are known to bring down cortisol levels so are laughter, prayer, friendship and sharing time with family. 
So I was happy to read this article which was sent to me by the Endocrine Society of Europe.

Gentle touch can decrease stress
April 3, 2018, Swedish Research Council

Credit: Swedish Research Council

Long lasting gentle touch decreases stress hormones and decelerate heart beat frequency. It also activates brain areas commonly linked to reward. These research results are presented in a new thesis from the University of Gothenburg. Findings that can be useful in designing therapies to help people relax.
gentle touch is comforting for most people, is perceived as pleasurable and alleviates stress. What actually produces this wellbeing, and what happens in the brain when the body is caressed gently, has been the focus for Chantal Triscoli's thesis. In a series of laboratory experiments, involving all in all 125 participants, she has studied the effects of touch using a brush on the forearm. She found that gentel touch not only was perceived as pleasant over a long time, but it also had a decreasing effect on stress hormones and a deceleration of heart beat.
"One hypothesis we had was that the body would become used to the touch, reaching satiety, and thus should the positive effects decrease over time. But what I found was the opposite," Chantal Triscoli says.
Chantal Triscoli conducts basic research, adding to the knowledge about how the healthy nervous system works. In one of the experiments, she could show how different parts of the brain, i.e. reward-related networks and networks for processing the discriminatory features of touch, are activated by brush stroking a person's forearm.
Though basic research, Chantal Triscoli's findings also can be useful in applied science, i.e. on a more clinical level.
"I can see that touch might be helpful in several types of therapy; for example in stress treatments and for helping people in anxiety states to relax," she says.
"And when treating illnesses it is first necessary to understand how a healthy brain works," she concludes.

Just because science lags behind millennial belief systems and their effects, we must not reject socially oriented therapies for illnesses caused by the society, which are among  the majority of the illnesses of the modern living.

Perhaps that is why the  American Indians, the last of the colonized people in the West (along with their Australian, Aotearoan and Kalahari cousins) as well as the Cuban people face their cotidian difficulties with such strength and give each other a hand that brings out the best of humanity in them.
When I am in Cuba, I am not only touched physically by my friends but also touched in many other forms, as explained in the following video by Sadhguru in replying to a question about touch by the famous Cardiothoracic surgeon  Dr Devi Shetty.