Doctors and scientists have been studying the brain’s natural ability to heal the body for many years. Researchers have been discovering evidence of the brain’s captivating ability to influence healing. Without the use of medication cancers are disappearing, tumors are diminishing, and depression is fleeing. Science is making advances in brain studies that are providing proof that one’s thoughts and lifestyle remarkably affect the brain’s chemistry, which promote physical and mental healing.
Two considerable forms of the brain’s healing power over the body are shown through the placebo effect, as well as maintaining a positive lifestyle through stress reduction and meditation. One way the mind works as a powerful healing agent is through the placebo effect. Geoff Watts defines a placebo as an artificial medical treatment in the form of a pill, shot, or procedure, which contains no medicine, to produce a psychological benefit to a believing patient (34). The effect, therefore, is an occurrence in which some people experience a form of healing after receiving the placebo (34).
A fascinating example of the placebo effect is found in the testimony of Mr. Moore, a 55 year old man who was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was given a death sentence by his doctor, but shockingly, five years after receiving his placebo treatment, the cancer had disappeared without a trace (Hirshberg and Barasch 8-11). The belief in the “dummy pill” activated the healing power through Mr. Moore’s brain. Even though there is not always a medical explanation for this miraculous phenomenon, research is facilitating the advancements for making the placebo effect more effective.
For instance, a rheumatologist in London discovered that the brain’s power to heal the body is greatly influenced by the color of the placebo given. Through the work of the rheumatologist, he learned that red capsules produced a greater effect for pain relief than blue, green, or yellow (Watts 34). The color red appeals to our emotions, with power, more than tranquil colors such as blue, green, and yellow. Hence, it seems logical that the effect from the red pill would be more beneficial. One last interesting finding in the effectiveness of the power of the mind when receiving a placebo is the attitude and disposition of the physician.
Research that compared doctors’ bedside manners revealed that physicians who were encouraging, warm, and friendly had better outcomes than those who were more formal in their consultations and did not offer reassurance (Lettus 30). This explains why practitioners, who are known for being compassionate, giving freely of their time, exercising tender loving care, and offering physical contact, often receive better results from the placebo effect (Lettus 30). Ultimately, the placebo effect serves as evidence that our brains are capable of healing without the use of chemical medicine.
Another powerful way the brain offers healing to the body is through stress reduction and meditation. Stress has consistently been proven to be linked to serious health conditions, such as heart disease, hypertension, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, lupus, and type II diabetes (Lettus 30). Stress is also the number one culprit in the delay of wound healing, according to “Think it Out,” an article in Men’s Health, published in March of 2003. This article describes a study conducted in Ohio, where researchers removed flesh from the roof of eleven dental students’ mouths during their summer vacation.
The researchers removed flesh from the opposite side of the students’ mouths three days before their first exam of the next school term. The Ohio researchers discovered that, on average, it took 40% longer for their wounds to heal during the stressful exam time as opposed to the easy-going summer days. Every time one feels injured or under the weather, taking a vacation would help in aiding the healing process, however, in reality this is not possible. Therefore, a great way to minimize stress is through meditation.
Meditation is one of the oldest mind-body tools used for cancer and heart disease at medical centers all over the world (Sammuels and Lane 13). Reducing stress through meditation has been known to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate as well as encourage feelings of peace and harmony within one self (22). When deep meditation is fulfilled, the hormonal system is positively affected (31). The brain sends messages to the pituitary glands to release endorphins and other healing hormones which travel throughout the body, the messages are then picked up by receptors that tell the body to relax and feel good (31).
As a result, the body enters into one of its highest levels of healing. The body’s highest level of healing can be accomplished through a vast variety of relaxation methods including yoga, massage, deep breathing, visualization, acupuncture, and aromatherapy. One more technique worth noting is prayer, even though prayer is not always for everyone, it is a form of meditation and has successfully been proven to possess healing power (Lettus 30). Reducing stress through meditation using a more popular method, such as yoga, or a more debated approach, such as prayer, provides health and healing to the body.
The ability to heal lies within whoever decides to believe and tap into the mind’s healing power. Through research we can see the wonderful consequences of the placebo effect as well as the calming effect of meditation and stress reduction. Having hope of healing through a magical little pill, and choosing to live a positive lifestyle through practicing meditation, aids in the brain’s ability to heal. One should just relax and believe, it could be the difference between life and death. Works Cited Hirshberg, Caryle and Marc Ian Barasch. Remarkable Recovery. New York: RIVERHEAD BOOKS, 1995.
Print Lettus, Dodi. “Breathe and relax! ” Library Journal 1 Sept. 2010: 30+. Academic OneFile. Web. 20 Sept. 2013. Sammuels, Michael and Mary Rockwood Lane. Spirit Body Healing. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. , 2000. Print. “Think it Out. ” Men’s Health Mar. 2003: 102. Academic OneFile. Web. 20 Sept. 2013. Watts, Geoff. “The Power of Nothing with the Right Encouragement, Your Mind Can Convince the Body to Heal Itself. What is the Mysterious Force That Conventional Medicine Seems to Have Forgotten? ” New Scientist 170. 2292 (2001): 34. Academic OneFile. Web. 20 Sept. 2013.