Eli5: why can’t your brain stop you from getting sick?


When someone has an autoimmune disease, their brain is sending electrical waves to tell the immune system to attack what it believes to be bad cells. So why can’t you just tell your brain to stop sending those messages, since it’s the one sending them in the first place?

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Simply put, the system is just too complex for simple solutions like that. Your brain is not hard-wired to directly control every single cell in your body, and all of your bodily processes form an incredibly complicated and interconnected network of reactions, checks and balances. You’re basically a meatbag with enzymes and hormones sloshing in it, and we do not have a good understanding of how all of it even works together.

If some of the cells start behaving weirdly, you can’t just wish and make them stop doing that, whether it’s diabetes, depression or cancer.


Your immune system is not controlled by your brain. It runs itself without any kind of boss or authority for the most part. All the little parts work together to tell each other what they need.

We’re just starting to understand the stomach and how it creates enzymes or hormones for the brain. It’s definitely an integrated Network working together and it has to be in harmony which it’s not with many people. Our bodies are also running into problems that are newer problems and we haven’t even had time to adapt to them evolutionarily. Even things like the scents in our detergent can affect our hormone levels, we’re basically creating all these immune issues that our body doesn’t know how to handle and clogging our system with things like microplastics and other chemicals.

I just heard a brief discussion on how there’s a bacteria in women’s bodies that excretes and enzyme, I believe, that processes estrogen which has been linked to causing depression in women because they’re estrogen gets metabolized faster than natural. Basically if you get your gut bacteria into proper working order this rogue bacteria will not overly consume estrogen and you will be less depressed is the idea. 🤯

So there’s so many little factors to consider that contribute to the overall good of the body and when too many of those get out of line it starts to cause bigger and bigger problems. Ideally we want to do what’s best for our body and things like depression, sickness, and disease will naturally minimize and our body will run better.

>When someone has an autoimmune disease, their brain is sending electrical waves to tell the immune system to attack what it believes to be bad cells.

This isn’t remotely accurate, and doesn’t consider the many different mechanisms of immunopathology that *do* happen in various autoimmune disease. The whole premise is just wrong.

There are other nervous/hormonal axes involving the brain, though. The easiest way to conceptualize why those aren’t possible to consciously control is that they’re separately wired.