Summary of Molecules of Emotion

An update on the intelligence of our cells  is biochemist Sondra Barrett, Ph.D.’s book Secrets of Your Cells. (2013) Also see books by Bruce Lipton

A Summary of Candace Pert, Ph.D.

Molecules of Emotion: Why You Feel the Way You

Feel. (Simon & Schuster Touchstone, 1997)

Cell receptors are the interface between emotions and tissue.

The cell’s brain is the receptors that float on its membrane. A

neuron (nerve cell) may have millions of receptors. Candace Pert

has spent her life as a scientist researching the receptors that sit on

the cells. She explains how they work in the first chapter of her

book. A receptor is a single molecule made up of strings of amino

acids, like beads on a necklace, perhaps the most complicated molecule

there is. (The 20 known amino acids make up protein and are

manufactured in the ribosomes found in every cell.) A receptor

vibrates and hums as it changes shape, waiting to pick up messages

that diffuse through the fluids surrounding the cells. A ligand is the

chemical key that fits in the receptor, in a process called binding,

“sex on a molecular level.”

About 95 percent of ligands are peptides, smaller strings of

amino acids. Examples of peptides are insulin and hormones—

excluding the steroid sex hormones. The second type are neurotransmitters

such as serotonin, usually made in the brain to carry

information across the gap (synapse) between neurons. The third

type are steroids including testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen.

The chemical exchange of information molecules is a second

nervous system, and the most ancient. It allows the different systems

to communicate with each other (i.e., the endocrine, neurological,

and immune).

Paul MacLean first described the brain as having three layers

which represent evolution; first, the brainstem or reptilian brain

(responsible for autonomic functions such as breathing and body

temperature). The limbic system encircles the top of the brainstem,

the source of emotions and where trauma gets stuck. The

cerebral cortex in the forebrain is the place we think and reason.

Chimps have 99 percent of the same DNA as we do, but they don’t

have a developed frontal cortex. It doesn’t fully develop in humans

until the early twenties, useful to know when relating to teenagers.

The brain’s food is glucose, carried in the blood, which fuels the

neurons to secrete messenger chemicals (neurotransmitters and

neuropeptides) and the glial cells to work on the nerve endings in

an “ongoing sculpting of connections.”199

Pert coined the phrase “molecules of emotion” in response

to her finding that 85 to 95 percent of the neuropeptide receptors

are found in the emotion centers (limbic structures). They include

the amygdala (almond-shaped structures on either side of the forebrain,

about an inch into your brain from your earlobes), hippocampus,

and limbic cortex. Since the 1920s, researchers were

able to stimulate strong emotions by electrically stimulating the limbic

cortex over the amygdala. Pert’s group of scientists discovered

that high concentrations of neuropeptides exist in most locations

(“nodal points”) where information from the five senses enters the

nervous system. Receptors are also found on immune cells for

almost every peptide found in the brain. Thus the immune system

can send and receive information from the brain via the peptides,

and the brain is another nodal point in the network.

“Using neuropeptides as the cue, our bodymind retrieves

or represses emotions and behaviors,” since change at the receptor

level is the molecular basis of memory.200 Memories are stored

in the body, as well as the brain, especially in the receptors

between nerves and cell bodies called ganglia. We pay attention to

some information and ignore the rest, as otherwise we would be

overwhelmed. Pert deduces this means memory processes are

emotion-driven and that emotions are peptide ligands. “Peptides

are the sheet music containing the notes, phrases, and rhythms that

allow the orchestra—your body—to play as an integrated entity.”

Memory and performance are, therefore, influenced by mood.

“Emotional states or moods are produced by the various

neuropeptide ligands, and what we experience as an emotion or a

feeling is also a mechanism for activating a particular neuronal circuit—

simultaneously throughout the brain and body—which generates

a behavior.”201 Pert believes there is one kind of peptide for

each emotion, just as endorphins are the mechanisms for bliss and

bonding. We can consciously influence what goes on in the body, as

by visualizing increased blood flow into a body part to increase oxygen

and nutrients to nourish the cells.

Pert believes “repressed emotions are stored in the body—

the unconscious mind—via the release of neuropeptide ligands,

and that memories are held in their receptors.”202 Emotions, then,

“are at the nexus between matter and mind, going back and forth

between the two and influencing both.”203 The immune system is composed of the spleen (the brain of the immune system), the bone marrow, the lymph nodes, and various

white blood cells. Pert speculates that meridians may be the

pathways followed by immune cells. Some of the immune system

cells create antibody molecules to engulf bacteria, virus or tumor

cells. Scavenger cells (macrophages which begin in the bone marrow

as monocytes) clean up the debris after invaders are killed.

Macrophages also repair and heal tissue. Interferons, similar to antibodies,

fight invaders, but they’re peptides made by white blood

cells called lymphocytes. (Some are B cells, others are T cells). Ed

Blalock found they sometimes secrete endorphin (a mood-altering

brain peptide) and a stress hormone, which means the immune

system acts like tiny pituitary glands.204 Pert and her team found

receptors on immune cells for almost every peptide or drug found

in the brain.

Immune cells make and secrete neuropeptides, the same

brain chemicals that control mood. The immune system can send

information to the brain with immunopeptides and receive it

through neuropeptides which hook up on receptors, the basis for

the new study of psychoneuroimmunology. The brain, glands, and

immune system are linked in an intelligent information network of

neuropeptides and receptors which create emotions. This means

“emotion-affecting peptides, then, actually appear to control routing

and migration of monocytes, which are very pivotal to the

overall health of the organism.”205 For example, in cancer, neuropeptides

(which affect mood and behavior) signal the cancer cell

receptors and cause them to grow and travel. Thus, cancer can be

fought with peptides to block receptors, as when taxofilen is used

against estrogen-dependent breast cancers. Viruses use the same

receptors as neuropeptides to enter a cell.

Even if we don’t understand the details of the interaction

between emotions and cell receptors, it’s important for healers to

know the connection exists and that it can be influenced consciously.

Here’s the quantum physics perspective from Deepok

Chopra, MD, based on a talk he gave on November 4, 2006 in

Chico. Further information is available in his recent books Book of

Secrets and Life After Death, his website, and his blog He started an organization to global peace called

Alliance for a New Humanity,

Chopra contrasts the new science, based on quantum

physics, with the old mechanistic, reductionist, deterministic science

which believes the development of life and its evolution over

eight billion years was an accident, a product of matter. The new

science believes there are no accidents because a consciousness

pervades the universe which is not basically matter. Sub-atomic

particles are fluctuations of energy, not matter. Our senses fool us

into thinking what we experience is solid, predictable, and

unchanging. What we perceive as matter is mostly empty with fluctuations

of energy, information and intelligence.

In fact, we continually rebuild our bodies as atoms flow in

and out, including atoms right now that used to be in the body of

Jesus, Buddha, Hitler, etc. We make new skin every month, a new

skeleton every three months, new DNA every six weeks, so that

by the end of next year we will have replaced 98% of the atoms in

our bodies. Everything changes although consciousness or soul outlives

the death of molecules.

Just as a movie or TV picture and reality itself appears to be

continuous, it’s actually flashes of off and on at the speed of light.

Without the off we wouldn’t perceive. In the quantum world of the

off, there is no energy, information, or space and time, no objects.

This is called quantum non-locality, as theorized by Bell’s Theorem

and proved to be true in 1998. What exists is waves of infinite possibility

where everything is connected and synchronized. This

explains how events can happen simultaneously, as in the communication

between the 100 trillion cells in the body which perform

hundreds of thousands of activities each second. However, in this

world of probability nothing is certain (Heisenberg’s Uncertainty

Principle). Einstein rejected this notion when Heisenberg present-

ed it to him, saying God doesn’t play dice with the universe.

Stephen Hawkins recently said that God does throws dice and, furthermore,

places them where we won’t find them. Quantum leaps

without going through linear space and time provides the basis for

creativity in evolution, as when reptiles evolved into birds and

chimp ancestors into humans.

Einstein’s student John Wheeler said the universe doesn’t

exist unless there’s an observer; quantum physics studies the

“observer effect” on whether a potential state becomes a wave or

a particle. It’s like electricity needs a positive and negative pole to

activate. As the observers, we’re thus co-creators with God the

creator. The world functions according to these five principles and

so does our consciousness or soul, which is non-local or material.

We create through uncertainties in a field of infinite possibilities

where the space between thoughts is reality, not the sensations.

We create our own reality with our thoughts, intention, awareness,

what we focus on, and meditative exploration of the inner world.

Chopra lists questions to ask as part of this exploration and bringing

our shadow selves into the light, at his website He says death is nothing to fear because it’s part

of the off and on through which the soul moves. Thus the body is

an excellent example of quantum principles, as well as the chemistry

which Pert explains.

1 thought on “Summary of Molecules of Emotion

  1. Pingback: Stress Management Techniques | local solutions to world problems

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