Mind-body medicine pioneers and leaders in the New Age movement have been spouting off about how the mind can heal the body for decades. As a skeptical, science-minded physician, I was intrigued, but I had my doubts. What ensued was a deep dive into the medical literature to find out if I could prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the mind can heal the body. Seeking to move the notion of self-healing from the realm of the magical or even metaphysical, I also searched for evidence of a clear physiological mechanism that explains how positive thoughts and emotions might translate into a cure for the body.
What I discovered blew my mind, shifted my paradigm about modern health care, and became the groundwork for my upcoming book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, 2013). Loads of data prove that the mind can believe itself well. In clinical trials, we call it “the placebo effect.” Patients treated with placebos don’t just feel better. It’s not just “in their heads.” They’ve actually had warts disappear, bronchi dilate, colons become less inflamed, hair growth on the heads of bald men, ulcers heal, and other measurable physiological phenomena. We also know that the opposite is true, and the mind can think itself sick, which researchers call “the nocebo effect.” When patients are given injections with saline and told it is chemotherapy, they vomit and lose their hair.
How do such things happen physiologically? In this book, I explain the science behind how a positive or negative thought or emotion in the mind translates into spontaneous repair in the body. As it turns out, the body has built-in self-repair mechanisms that fix damaged proteins, repair DNA, correct hormonal imbalances, and gobble up cancer cells, infectious agents, and foreign bodies that our bodies are exposed to every day. These mechanisms explain the spontaneous remissions that are reported in the medical literature from seemingly “incurable” diseases like Stage 4 cancer, HIV, hypothyroidism, diabetes, and even an untreated gunshot wound to the head. Yet patients often feel powerless to harness these natural self-repair mechanisms.
Not anymore. In this book, I teach a scientifically-founded six-step process you can follow to optimize the body’s capacity to flip on its natural self-repair mechanisms when the body becomes ill. I’ll also be teaching tools for using the power of the mind as preventative medicine, to increase the chance that you will one day die of “old age,” rather than dying too young as the result of disabling of the body’s ability to repair itself.
What disables the body’s natural self-repair mechanisms? We all know that stress is bad for the body. But do you understand how this works? Loads of data prove that stress comes in different forms—the stress of feeling lonely, work stress, financial stress, marital stress, family stress, the stress of feeling creatively blocked or spiritually disconnected. Regardless of what triggers it, stress flips on a series of physiological cascades associated with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the “fight or flight” response of the sympathetic nervous system. In other words, whether you’re stressed about money, your marriage, or your job, your body can’t tell the difference between a perceived threat, such as impending bankruptcy, and a real threat, such as getting chased by a lion.
But here’s the kicker. The body can only repair itself when the body is in a state of physiological rest. Whenever the body thinks it’s time to run away from the lion (or whatever chronic, repetitive perceived threat it believes itself to be under), it shuts down self-repair. After all, who cares about long-term maintenance like killing unwanted cancer cells if you’re about to be eaten by a lion? In this book, I share not just the scientific proof that you can heal yourself, but also tips for using the power of the mind to optimize the body’s natural self-repair mechanisms, so disease prevention and spontaneous remissions aren’t just something that happens randomly, but something you might be able to experience for yourself.