In recent decades, ground breaking research has shown that the human mind has a powerful capacity to heal the body. Scientists unintentionally stumbled upon this fact when they were testing pharmaceutical drugs against dummy drugs – also known as placebos. (Many have heard of placebos, but for a quick refresher a placebo is typically a sugar pill or saline solution that is used in medical trials to test against the effectiveness of a ‘real’ drug.) Scientists began to scratch their heads when mysteriously the placebo drug (that was not suppose to have any healing effects) would suddenly produce spontaneous healing in the body.
How could this be possible?
Patients certainly could not have had a healing response due to the effects of a sugar pill or saline solution. The only possibility of why any benefits could have occurred at all was decidedly due to the fact that the patients believed they were taking the real drug and that it would help them. The power of their own minds created healing in their bodies. The experiments were intentionally set up this way – to be 100% believable. Doctors distributed the real drugs and placebo in the same packaging and told participants the healing effects they should experience. Because the patients truly believed their doctors and believed they were taking the real pill, their bodies produced the natural chemicals to create the said healing responses. Brain scans have shown that the brain is activated in the area that creates and releases the needed chemicals to produce healing – so it is not only in someone’s mind or imagination – there is also a physiological change. Dawson Church from his book, The Genie in Your Genes stated, “Each of us holds the keys to a pharmacy containing a dazzling array of healing compounds: our own brain…Our brains are themselves generating drugs similar to those that the doctor is prescribing for us.”
Interestingly, the power of the mind’s ability to use the placebo effect, greatly depends on how the drug is given and packaged. A fascinating study from the University of Keele in the UK, monitored 835 women to test the effectiveness of aspirin – the findings revealed that having a brand name on the tablet made a great difference in how effective the aspirin was.
The study used two types of aspirin tablets – one labelled with a well-known brand name and the other as ‘analgesic’. There were also two types of placebo tablets, labelled in the same way – either a well known brand name or as ‘analgesic.’ The women were separated into four groups so that they would receive only one type of the tablet. The results showed, amazingly, that the branded aspirin tablets worked better than the unbranded ones, yet it was the same drug! The branded placebos also reduced pain much more than unbranded ones, yet they were the same placebos. (How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body)
Another brilliant study was conducted by Harvard scientists in 1989. The scientists wanted to see how perception of being old effected the health, height and memory of individuals. They took volunteers over the age of 70 and had them go to a week retreat where they recreated the environment to mirror 1959. They asked the participants to talk and act like it was 1959. They played music, wore clothes and watched TV programs all from the 1950s, they even had them conversing on topics and current affairs from that time. The results were quite profound:
At the start the scientists took a host of physiological measurements, including height, finger length, strength, mental cognition and eyesight. After ten days in the center, they took those measurements again and discovered that the volunteers had gotten physiologically younger by several years just by acting as though they were younger. They grew taller, their fingers grew longer, they had improved mental functions and their eyesight had improved. Some of the volunteers had become mentally and physiologically younger by 25 years. (How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body)
You can spend a lot of time and energy being harsh on yourself and your body, which is why it is so important to understand just how extraordinary your body truly is and the innate healing power it has within it! As a fun exercise, I thought I would teach you a magic trick so you can see for yourself the power your mind has on your body. It is easy, quick and effective. The visualization takes about 30-45 seconds. It really is just for fun to help you see for yourself how interconnected your mind is with your body and how thoughts, beliefs and intentions directly effect your physiology.
Activating our innate healing energy within is a vital resource that we all have within ourselves. Science in the past 20+ years has revolutionized our understanding of how stress impacts the body, and new healing techniques have been developed to greatly aid in decreasing the stress that is at the root cause of certain diseases, there by supporting the body to self correct and heal itself.
If you are experiencing physical health challenges it can be invaluable to find what beliefs, stresses and thoughts are linked to keeping your body out of balance. As a META-Health Coach I am trained to assist individuals to find the mental and emotional stress that is interconnected with symptoms and disease. If you have any questions about a particular health problem you can leave a comment below and I can share with you 40+ years of research regarding the underlying stress to your particular health problem.
I hope this was helpful for you!