VIDEO – Introduction to THEN Science

Our VIDEO describes THEN’s VISION for a new approach to Medical Science showing the connections between a person’s experience, brain regulation and disease.
[See Science REFERENCES below for research discussed in the VIDEO]


Our Case Study is the link of HYPERTENSION to the experience of DISCRIMINATION.
(Hypertension is often referred to as High Blood Pressure and abbreviated as HTN)

Re-Thinking  Chronic Disease through Exploring Brain-Body Connections
Example:  Hypertension

Conventional Medical thinking:  HYPERTENSION is an idiopathic disease (meaning no known cause). occurring when a person’s measured blood pressure is higher than desirable (using criteria from the American College of Cardiology).

Systems Biology thinking:  HYPERTENSION is one phase of inflammatory vascular disease, resulting from inflammatory infiltration of the lining of arteries (the intima) and constriction of vascular smooth muscle – resulting in stiffening and narrowing the arteries.  Systems Biology research points to over-activation of the deep brain as the instigating factor.

Thinking about HYPERTENSION through the Trauma-Health Equity-Neurobiology lens:  The severity of HYPERTENSION correlates with the severity of trauma and adverse experiences, especially the experience of Everyday Discrimination.  For any person, the cause of HYPERTENSION is best understood through reviewing the person’s LIFE COURSE (from childhood to the present).  LGBTQ and Black, Indigenous and Persons of Color (BIPOC) are particularly at risk.

Click on each TAB to see specific resources.
Click on article title to link to National Library of Medicine.


Rodriguez-Iturbe B et al.  Role of the Immune System in Hypertension. Physiol Rev.  July 2017.  FREE FULL TEXT ARTICLE
Highlights:  Updated physiology underlying hypertension:  infiltration of immune cells, oxidative stress, and stimulation of angiotensin system, vascular relaxation, and over-reactivity of sympathetic nervous system.

Solak Y, Afsar B, Vaziri ND, et al.  Hypertension as an autoimmune and inflammatory disease.  Hypertension Research (2016)   FREE FULL TEXT ARTICLE.   Pathophysiology of hypertension with a focus on oxidant stress-autoimmunity-inflammation interaction.

EVERYDAY DISCRIMINATION is the scientific measurement of a person’s life experience of daily discrimination.

The EVERYDAY DISCRIMINATION scale was developed by David R Williams, PhD in 1997 and has been used in over 100 scientific research studies.

As described by Heather Hall, MD, the experience of DISCRIMINATION can result in a “double dose” of TRAUMA for excluded persons.

High rates of experience of EVERYDAY DISCRIMINATION have been shown to correlate with incidence of many serious diseases including hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and maternal mortality.

Photo:  David Williams, PhD – Harvard Professor of Public Health

Image:  Equal Justice Initiative


Moody DLB, et al.  Everyday Discrimination Prospectively Predicts Blood Pressure Across 10 Years in Racially/Ethnically Diverse Midlife Women Ann Behavior Med.  Sept 2018.  Highlights:  Exposure to Everyday Discrimination predicts systolic and diastolic blood pressure, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Hardy ST, et al.  Heterogeneity in Blood Pressure Transitions Over the Life Course:  Age-Specific Emergence of Racial/Ethnic and Sex Disparities in the United States.  JAMA Cardiology.  June 2017.  FREE FULL TEXT ARTICLE   Highlights:  Tracked blood pressure readings in 17,000 people.  Found that young black men had twice the risk of hypertension compared to white youth.  Transition from normal blood pressure to hypertension in black youth started at age 8.

REGULATION is the ability of the Brain-Body network to maintain a stable internal environment.  REGULATION occurs through the cycle of 2 important functions:  SENSING and RESPONDING.

REGULATION occurs through constant, instantaneous communication (messages-SIGNALS) via the brain, autonomic nervous system, circulatory, endocrine and immune systems.

DYSREGULATION is when the Brain-Body gets outside the optimal, stable range.

TRAUMA can cause prolonged DYSREGULATION which drives disease-promoting pathways.


Click here to VISIT THEN’s resource pages on REGULATION for 3 short Videos:

  • Part 1:  the SCIENCE of REGULATION
  • Part 2:  Regulation and Health
  • Part 3:  Practical Applications

Based on current scientific findings, how could we REIMAGINE CARE for Hypertension?

  • TEAM APPROACH to understanding any Disease in context of an individual’s life with the patient-client being an equal member of the Team
  • Focus on Brain-Body REGULATION – Sleep, Movement, Emotional Healing and Regulation *
  • Range of Treatment Modalities:  including Medication but also regulatory Mind-Body techniques such as Mindfulness, Yoga, Acupuncture
  • Family – Community – Social Justice.   Ensuring basic needs (safety, food, more) are met as well as ensuring respectful treatment in all areas (school, work, sports, etc) plus social action to ensure social justice and eliminate predatory policing and economic practices.

* CLICK HERE to visit THEN’s resources on Brain-Body REGULATION