Some science behind the scenes

Placebo effect

The placebo effect is about the power of the mind to influence the body.  It can occur when a person uses any kind of health treatment – either conventional or complementary and alternative.   It can affect all of us, whether we know about the placebo effect or not.

 The mind body connection

Dean Radin

While the general idea of mind body corrections is now widely accepted, 40 years ago it was considered dangerously heretical nonsense.  The change in opinion came about largely because of hundreds of studies of the placebo effect, psychosomatic illness, psychoneuroimmunology and the spontaneous remission of serious disease.  In studies of drug tests and disease treatments, the placebo response has been estimated to account for between 20% to 40% of positive responses.  The implication is that the body’s hard physical reality can be significantly modified by the more evanescent reality of the mind.

The inter relationship between the body and the mind has been long recognised in eastern medicine, particularly Chinese medicine.  The Chinese also associate emotions with various organs, so that negative emotions may result in illness in that organ and positive emotions may help it heal.  The correlation between organs and emotions can be found on this site.  In this table I have tried to show the negative emotion that may cause illness along with the positive emotion that might help to heal it.

There is no doubt that physical pathogens attack our body.  The main classes of pathogen are also the same for everyone and are:

Sadly many pharmaceuticals can also be added to this list.  One very key pharmaceutical is the Vaccines.

All these can attack our organs physically.  Many pathogens – viruses, fungi, toxins, parasites and bacteria for example - migrate to the organ that is least protected because of some form of emotional hurt.  Thus illness often arises in an organ that is immunologically compromised because our mind has in some way compromised it.  If we, via our mind, tell the immune system we don’t care about a part of us via the emotions we are expressing, then the immune system will simply obey orders and the pathogen will get going and attack that part.

But if the mind is somehow healed, either via a change of the emotions being expressed and often by simply being told by someone else that they are worth healing, then the body often starts to defend itself again.

Thus much of the placebo effect is due to the fact that someone cares enough to want to heal us.

Today, we know that patients who are given empty injections or pills that they believe contain medicine can experience an improvement in a wide range of health conditions. This kind of ‘empty medicine’ is also called a placebo, and the improvement that results is also part of the overall placebo effect.  But the placebo effect from pills and potions is just another example of how our expectations and beliefs can cause real change in our physical bodies. And our belief is that someone has given us a bit of care and attention.

The more care and attention we get the more we are likely to improve and the more genuine it is, or the more genuine we believe it is, the more likely it is to work.  Thus anyone with an air of authority, lots of letters after their name, a uniform that sparkles with the idea of ‘medicine’, in a setting that smacks of ‘hospital’, is half way there to healing you because you are likely to believe that what they do is effective.

Healing is in reality partly magic.  It is no different from the old style shaman, who either issued the death prayer by his actions or went through a healing ritual.

An example of placebo medicine

In 1996, scientists assembled a group of students and told them that they were going to take part in a study of a new painkiller, called "trivaricaine". Trivaricaine was a brown lotion to be painted on the skin, and smelled like a medicine. But the students were not told that, in fact, trivaricaine contained only water, iodine, and thyme oil – none of which are painkilling medicines.

Mechanisms of Placebo Pain Reduction: An Empirical Investigation - Guy Montgomery and Irving Kirsch, University of Connecticut, Department of Psychology.

Identical experimental pain stimuli were applied to the right and left index fingers of 56 university students, following the application of a placebo in the guise of a topical anesthetic to one of the fingers. The pain stimuli were administered simultaneously to treated and untreated fingers for half of the subjects and sequentially for the others Significant and equivalent reductions in pain were reported in both conditions as a function of placebo administration These data indicate that reductions of experimental pain produced by placebos presented in the guise of local anesthetics are not mediated by such global mechanisms as anxiety reduction or the release of endogenous opioids.

Mind and emotions are spirit - functions.  They are not physical.  In effect you are healing the soul.  Old style shamans who talked of illness being caused by 'soul loss', were right.

There are other examples on PubMed.  Placebo medicine has even been shown to cause stomach ulcers to heal faster than they otherwise would.

In effect, the first stage of healing is that someone ‘in authority’– healer or doctor - recognises and acknowledges that you are indeed ‘ill’.  The next stage is that they take the time and trouble to try to do something for you.  By caring about you they help to heal your mind, by healing your mind, your mind affects your immune system and your immune system gets to work to heal you.

Observations

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