Evidence is mounting that places have the power to heal, University of Arizona researchers are finding.
Immunologists, molecular biologists, environmental psychologists and others are finding that people's bodies react to their environments in ways that can actually promote healing.
"There are physiological, emotional and immune responses that are occurring in every location that you are in, in every moment of the day," says Esther Sternberg, director of research for the UA Center for Integrative Medicine.
Not only do physical reactions have implications for one's health. Memories, too, can trigger hormonal and other chemical responses that can directly impact the body's immune system, in ways that can be both beneficial and harmful to healing, Sternberg says.
Researching the ways in which the mind, body and space are connected is helping scientists to understand how holy sites may have healing properties, work that has captured the attention of the Vatican.
This work, however, also addresses more mundane spaces, with widespread implications. Already research is suggesting that schools, homes, offices, and other places where people spend much of their time actually affects their health.