Gratitude May Be the Best Medicine

Radhia Gleis
4 min readNov 10, 2022

By consciously practicing gratitude every day, we can help our immune system, our central nervous system, pain response, sleep, even our memory and cognitive function. The effects of gratitude, when practiced daily, can be almost the same as medications in strengthening neural pathways.

Here’s what happens when we express gratitude:

Feelings of gratitude activate the hippocampus and amygdala, the two main sites regulating emotions, memory, and bodily functioning. Gratitude significantly impacts psychological conditions like stress, anxiety, and depression by producing a feeling of long-lasting happiness and contentment. The physiological basis for this lies at the neurotransmitter level. As we feel grateful, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions, thereby enhancing our mood immediately.

By regulating the level of dopamine, gratitude can reduce subjective feelings of pain. A study conducted to evaluate the effects of gratitude on physical wellbeing, Counting Blessings vs Burdens (Emmons & McCullough, 2003), indicated that 16% of the patients who kept a gratitude journal reported reduced pain symptoms and were more willing to exercise and cooperate with the treatment procedure.

Studies also show that gratitude practices significantly reduce cardiac diseases, inflammations, and neurodegeneration.

A study by Zahn, et al., (2009) stated: “A brain filled with gratitude and kindness is more…