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"Once the truth about mind/body health and healing becomes visible we will be able to use it to get well and stay well. It is free, it is powerfully effective, and we all have it in abundance."
"All acquired health problems are caused by negative habits of mind."

We are on the cusp of a brave new world of medicine and healing. It has been coming for a long time. The real secret is that it has been here all along. But it has been invisible to many people, including non-holistic medical and health care practitioners. When things are invisible to us we don't recognize them, we don't believe in them and so we can't take advantage of them. Once the truth about mind/body health and healing becomes visible we will be able to use it to get well and stay well. It is free, it is powerfully effective, and we all have it in abundance.

Let's talk about it.

Placebo Effect

In his genre-defining book, The Biology of Belief, cell biologist Bruce Lipton wrote
"…Some historians make a strong case that the history of medicine is largely the history of the placebo effect" (108). That's a powerful yet mysterious statement. What does it mean?

First, what is the placebo effect? A placebo is a neutral, non-medicinal substance or procedure that has no medical or healing properties or capabilities. The placebo effect is what happens when people get well after taking a placebo or after receiving a placebo treatment. In the classic studies people who thought they were taking prescribed medications were only taking sugar pills (placebos). But even though they weren't taking any prescribed medications their symptoms were relieved exactly as if they had. This means that the people got well because they believed they were receiving medicine that they expected would make them well. They got well for no other reason than that they believed they would get well and that they expected to get well.

Doctors and pharmaceutical companies know all about this. They base their work and their research on the fact that approximately 30% of the time people get well strictly by virtue of the placebo effect and not from medical treatments or medicines. That means that at least 30% of the time people get well not because they take their medicine, follow their doctor's orders, or have a medical procedure: they get well under their own steam-and they don't even know it!

How do they do it?

One thing's for sure: they aren't doing it the way they think they are, because they don't even think they're the one doing it! They think the medicine or the procedure causes the healing effect. But with the placebo effect there never even was a medication or a procedure.

A 2002 Baylor University study published in the New England Journal of Medicine is a perfect example. Before this study was published no non-holistic practitioner would have believed it was possible for there to be a placebo effect in orthopedic surgery. In the study, two groups of patients with the same severe, debilitating knee injury were treated two different ways. One group received an orthopedic procedure (knee surgery) while the other 50% believed they were receiving the procedure but were only sedated, given a little show in the operating "theatre," and received as a souvenir authentic incisions and stitches. Both groups recovered equally well and resumed normal, pain free physical activity.

Other studies, in which antidepressant medications were replaced with placebos, resulted in an 80% reduction in or relief of symptoms. That's a better result than the medication gets! Apparently the body knows more about healing than pharmaceutical companies do.

Most research indicates that on average hypnosis achieves about 80% effectiveness in treating medical symptoms and pain-with no medication and no surgery. (Hypnosis may be thought of as the intentional activation of the placebo effect. See Journal Article five.)

Bruce Lipton's quote begins to make a lot of sense.

The placebo effect is much more powerful than many people have dared to imagine.

But wait. This still doesn't explain the placebo effect.

Triggering Placebo Effect

There are two predisposing conditions that apparently trigger the placebo effect. One is that the person has complete confidence and faith in the healer, doctor, friend, shaman or other professional who is prescribing the medicine, performing the procedure or incantation, or conducting the healing session or séance. The other predisposing condition is that the person has previously experienced a healing effect with the medicine, remedy, substance, procedure or practitioner

So, if we have enough confidence in the opinion or experience of the person to whom we are referred then she has credibility and that may be all it takes for us to get the placebo effect from the treatment. Or else if we tried something and it worked before, then we'll expect it to work again and that is likely to trigger the placebo effect.

Here's an example that illustrates both conditions.

When my daughter was in middle school she had her ears pierced. One of the piercings became infected and on the second night was so painful that she was unable to get to sleep. She was very agitated, anxious and upset. My wife has an assortment of "essential oils," which are natural aromatic plant oils. In front of my daughter I asked my wife-so that the patient wouldn't understand what I meant-"Which one of the essential oils has the most placebo in it?" Being a nurse by trade, she knew exactly what I meant and she said "tea tree oil" (which has no anesthetic properties whatsoever but which is very aromatic). We applied the tea tree oil to the painful area; the patient reported an almost instantaneous decrease in pain. Soon there was no pain. She went back to bed, quickly fell asleep, and slept comfortably through the night. She used the oil to relieve her pain until the earlobe was healed, and she subsequently used it successfully for pain on a number of other occasions.

But the oil never caused the pain to go away.

What did cause the pain to go away? The oil was just the trigger, and it worked because of my daughter's confidence in us. Then it worked for her again because it had worked before.

Placebo Effect is Self-Healing

We know what triggers the placebo effect, but what actually causes it?

Here's the very obvious and simple answer: the placebo effect is caused by the natural way your mind-and bodymind-work when prompted by your thoughts, beliefs, and expectations. Thanks to seminal researchers and writers such as Candace Pert, Sharon Begley, Bruce Lipton, Ernest Rossi and Norman Doidge we now know what the biochemical and brain science mechanisms are that cause your mind to direct your body to be insensitive to pain and to heal itself. But all of that is far less important-and far less useful to us-than the simple fact that under certain circumstances of belief we are capable of telling our mind that it is okay for our body to do what it has known how to do all along-be healed and whole-and it will do it! For this reason Bruce Lipton calls the placebo effect the "belief effect." I will take that one step farther and simply call it self-healing, because that is exactly what it is.

It appears that only under certain very special, specific and unusual circumstances can you convincingly tell your body to self-heal, but why should that be the case? Why should special and unusual circumstances be required for you to tell your body to go ahead and heal itself? Why can't you do it all the time? After all, your body already knows how to heal itself and it always has.

Your Mind can Heal Your Body

With Bruce Lipton's quote in mind ("The history of medicine is largely the history of the placebo effect"), we must ask ourselves why do we think we need the authority of a medical doctor, laboratory scientist, pharmacologist, medicine woman-or anyone else-to convince us of the power and authority of our own mind and body to heal itself and be whole? We only think someone else has that authority because it's what we have been taught, not because it's true.

Increasing numbers of people are embracing the fact of holistic health and self-healing, while others remain skeptical. Your doctor and pharmacist are already convinced that your body can get well all by itself. And it will-once you are convinced too. How about it? What will it take to convince you that your mind can heal your body?

Through Force of Habit you learn how to convince your mind that it is capable of healing your body. You learn to clear your mind of the habits that cause and sustain negative mental and health conditions. All acquired health problems are caused by negative habits of mind. Bruce Lipton puts it this way: "Almost every major illness that people acquire has been linked to chronic stress" (121). In time, I expect research to demonstrate that all acquired illnesses are linked to stress. Chronic stress causes illness; chronic stress is caused by anxiety; anxiety is a habit of the mind. When your mind is cleared of negative habits your body will heal itself. Your mind heals your body by the same exact mechanisms that it used to make your body unhealthy in the first place. As soon as we understand this we will have the same power and authority our doctor has-and probably much more.

For additional examples of mind/body healing experiences visit JOURNAL ARTICLES. You can also view a fascinating two-segment BBC (1) (2) program on the subject.

David Kohlhagen - Think Responibly! Branded Graphic THINK RESPONSIBLY!


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