Mind Over Medicine: Healing the Body with the Mind
I just finished my upcoming book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, 2013), but I’m still researching the topic that has fascinated me for the past four years. I just started reading Consciousness & Healing: Integral Approaches To Mind-Body Medicine, by my friend and IONS president Marilyn Schlitz and Tina Amorok.
Here’s some juicy stuff I found:
- In 1986, Henry Bennett studied 94 surgical patients scheduled for spinal surgery, who were taught how to use their minds to move blood away from the site of the surgery. Those who did this lost 500 cubic centimeters of blood, compared to 900 cubic centimeters of blood in those who didn’t.
- In 1994, Lewis Mehl studied 100 pregnant women with breech babies. Under hypnotherapy, these women were encouraged to trust their bodies and nature to restore their babies to the proper head-down position. 81% of the babies of those hypnotized reverted to head-down, compared to 48% of those not hypnotized.
- In 1998, Jon Kabat-Zinn led a study of patients receiving phototherapy for moderate to severe psoriasis while listening to meditation guidance and instructions on visualizing ultraviolet light slowing the division of skin cells. Those who did the visualizations reached the halfway clearing point 50% faster than the control group that got only phototherapy without the meditation and visualization.
Biochemical medicine cannot explain what happens in these instances. Is the mind supercharging the patients with happy hormones like endorphins and oxytocin, while reducing levels of harmful hormones like cortisol and adrenaline? Are blood cells following orders from the mind in some way? Can babies hear a mother’s thoughts? Are immune cells rushing to the aid of diseased skin cells at the call of the meditation guidance?
In other studies, women visualizing themselves warming their breasts in the sun can increase their breast size.
People allergic to poison ivy do not break out when they are rubbed with poison ivy but are told it is elm leaves, yet they do break out when rubbed with elm leaves and told it is poison ivy.
Patients with “incurable” congenital ichthyosiform erythrodermis, commonly called “fish skin disease,” in which patients get a scale-like hardening of the skin that modern medicine can’t treat, can clear up to 80% of the disorder under hypnotic suggestion.
What is the link between consciousness, health, and healing?
Inquiring minds like mine want to know!
We know that 18-75% of the time, patients in clinical trials respond to placebo treatment as if they are getting the real drug. As Harris Dienststfrey wrote in his essay in Consciousness & Healing, “I hope this is clear. There is as yet no bottom to the well of the mind’s capacity to do in the body (some bodies) what any newly invented drug can do. The problem the drug is treating does not matter. The mind is expansive enough to treat the problem. Put it this way: The mind so far can do (for some people) what all the pharmaceutical labs of the world together haven’t been able to do.”
Doesn’t it blow your mind?
It blows mine, so I keep digging. Somewhere, amidst all this clinical data, lies the truth that we have been ignoring for decades. Somewhere, buried in statistics and medical journals, lies the answer to what really makes us sick and what really predisposes us to illness.
Stay tuned. I’m feisty, stubborn, and on a mission. Make sure you’re on my mailing list to get free updates so you can stay in the loop as I continue to explore the root causes of illness and how we can harness the mind to heal ourselves.
In awe of the mind,
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, 2013), TEDx speaker, and health care revolutionary. Join her newsletter list for free guidance on healing yourself, and check her out on Twitter and Facebook.