There’s a lot of “woo woo” talk out there in the land of metaphysics, the law of attraction, and mind/body medicine about our capacity for self-healing. As an open-minded physician, I’ve always been fascinated by this concept. But as a skeptical scientist at heart, I’ve always had this little voice in the back of my head that says, “Bullshit. Prove it.”
My curiosity about whether we really have the power to cure our own bodies fueled an inquiry into the medical literature, not just in the mind/body medicine journals, but in theNew England Journal of Medicine and in labs from the halls of Harvard. What I found blew my mind and evolved into my next book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, 2013).
Since it’ll be a while before the book comes out, I’ll be giving you snippets of what’s to come here on my blog, so make sure you sign up for my RSS feed here if you want to make sure not to miss anything. (Note: Scroll down on the left hand side of this page and click on “Subscribe to Lissa Rankin’s blog only.”) The book is broken down into the truths of what I wasn’t taught in medical school, and what I have learned since then.
Truth #1 You can believe yourself well.
I had no clue that this was SO true until I started digging deep into the medical literature. What I found cracked me open, and I want to share some of it with you here.
Most of you have heard of the placebo effect. But do you really understand what that means? Scientific studies prove that when we take a sugar pill or undergo a sham treatment/surgery, not only do symptoms resolve, but the body actually changes physiologically.
Proof That You May Be Able To Cure Yourself
Studies show that, when given placebo pills, sham treatments, and fake surgery:
- Bronchi dilate in asthmatics
- Balding men grow hair
- Ulcers heal over
- Tumors melt away
- Headaches resolve
- Colitis gets better
- Angina disappears
- Depressed people feel happy
- Endometriosis symptoms resolve
- Knee pain goes away
- Parkinson’s improves
This doesn’t happen 100% when people are treated with fake treatment, but the numbers I’m finding are pretty staggering. Placebos get people well on between 35-75%. I’ll be sharing all the percentages and scientific references to support what I’m saying in my upcoming book, but I just wanted to give you a heads up so you know how powerfully the mind can affect the body.
How does this happen? I’ll be discussing the biological mechanisms scientists propose in a future blog post, so stay tuned.
Should We Be Prescribing Placebos?
What should we do with this information? Should doctors start prescribing sugar pills? Or is that too deceptive? Does that sound like quacks selling snake oil out of the back of a push cart?
Should we prescribe placebos but tell you the truth about what we’re doing? Or will that reducing the efficacy of the mind’s belief that it will get well?
Please share your thoughts, tell me your self-healing stories, and offer your opinions about how we should deal with this information. You may even wind up in my book if you’re willing to go on the record and use your real name!
Believing in the mind’s power to heal,
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Pink Medicine Revolutionary, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.
Learn more about Lissa Rankin here.