The Power of Love

By Amber Mitchell, MD  |  2/5/2019

The power of positivity is underestimated. It can change your outlook on life. 

Words of encouragement and love may change your brain, according to research by Dr. Andrew Newberg, director of research at the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health and a physician at Jefferson University Hospital. Just like stressful experiences in the environment can activate or "turn on" genes and disease, so can positive experiences influence expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.

When we use words filled with positivity, like "love" and "peace," we can modulate the brain in the frontal lobes and improve cognitive reason, according to studies at Thomas Jefferson University. This has been demonstrated using special neuroimaging, such as SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) scans. Staying positive can activate the motivation centers of the brain and encourage positive action.

Negativity may trigger mechanisms of oxidative stress, which in turn may lead to deleterious inflammatory cascades. Negativity floods our brains with stress hormones, which can interrupt the normal neurotransmission and homeostasis of the brain.

I have seen some patients with terminal illnesses face their fate with courage and positivity. They tend to do better than those who sink into a depression and lose the will to live.  Also, the support of loved ones goes a long way.  The power of positivity and love at least makes the moment bearable.  The Beatles were right when they preached, "All you need is love."

Dr. Amber Mitchell is a neurologist with Health Quest Medical Practice in Kingston and is on the medical staff of Northern Dutchess Hospital, where she oversees the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit.