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You’re Healed If You Think You Are

So what is actually happening?

I’ll be digging deep into this issue in my book, but suffice it to say that something very powerful happens when you BELIEVE you are being treated with something that will heal you. In all but the “do nothing” treatment group, patients believed they were being given real treatment, and the combination of the belief in getting well and the support of a therapeutic relationship has been proven, time and time again in clinical research trials, to result in powerful symptom relief.

In fact, in clinical trials across the board, the placebo effect ranges from 30-75% efficacy. And it’s not just symptom relief. Although this study showed 20% improvement in lung function in those receiving albuterol, compared to 7% in those receiving placebo, some studies show even more marked physiological effects in the placebo group. Which means that it’s not just in your mind. Your body is actually responding physiologically. Through a series of physiological shifts, your body is actually activating a cascade of healing mechanisms that can improve your asthma, relieve pain, increase energy, and even – sometimes – cure cancer.

Regarding the Harvard study, study author Ted Kaptchuk said, “It’s clear that for the patient, the ritual of treatment can be very powerful. This study suggests that in addition to active therapies for fixing diseases, the idea of receiving care is a critical component of what patients value in health care. In a climate of patient dissatisfaction, this may be an important lesson.”

Yes, I agree with that. But I would argue that it goes beyond the active therapy and the idea of receiving care. I think hope is a powerful healing force, and your state of mind greatly affects the state of your body.

What do you believe?

So what do you believe about your body? Has a doctor told you that your illness is “incurable?” Do you believe you’ll have to take medication for the rest of your life? Do you BELIEVE you might be able to heal yourself, not just from a physical health condition, but from an emotional, sexual, professional, financial, interpersonal, or other type of whole health issue?

I believe you have the power to heal yourself. And I’ll be writing more about the proof I’m finding in the medical literature to support that belief as I dig deeper, so make sure you’re signed up for my newsletter.

What do you believe? Have you healed yourself from a health condition? Have you tried to heal yourself – and failed? Tell us your stories in the comments below.

With faith in your self-healing superpowers,


Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.commotivational 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.


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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.  She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.  Lissa blogs at and also created two online communities - and She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.


+ add your own
8:15AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012


6:19PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

Thanks, Lissa, great article :)

10:20AM PDT on Apr 16, 2012

As a young adult who's had a serious chronic medical condition for the past decade, I find this a little's pretty much insinuating that if you're sick, it's because you aren't wanting enough to get better. Trust me, life-altering illness is NOT a choice, and if it were at all possible to "think it away," I would.

10:06AM PDT on Aug 27, 2011

Thanks Lissa

9:53AM PDT on Aug 26, 2011

Interesting,Thank you

4:15PM PDT on Aug 9, 2011

very interesting, thanks

1:39AM PDT on Aug 9, 2011

Mind over matter?

1:38AM PDT on Aug 9, 2011

Sickness should be cured.

9:22AM PDT on Jul 31, 2011

Interesting, my asthma went away when I started smoking. I don't think you really need to believe it will help, someone else has to tell you it will.

6:50PM PDT on Jul 29, 2011

I grew up believing that our bodys heal themselves. When I accidently scraped myself or got a cut, my Dad pointed out that the bleeding stopped on it's own, then the skin began to grow back together, and if I just kept the sore clean and protected it with a bandage for a few days, a scab formed, then fell off and there was brand new skin underneath it with no sign of a wound. That was all I needed to set me on that path, and I have since learned to trust my bodys own processes for bringing it's self back to good health. Watch the animals, he always said. They rest, drink water, eat little and stay as comfortable as possible.You will either die, or get better. So far, I'm happy to report, I've always gotten better.

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