Understanding the power of the mind

It’s difficult to fathom that our thoughts and demands could impact our internal physiology that we cannot see.

Has this happened to you?

You hear a close friend has the chicken pox and you suddenly get itchy.

You’re stressed out for a presentation or exam and you start sweating and your heart races.

Someone you have a crush on walks into the room and your face goes beet red?

These are all examples of psychosomatic responses which is the interaction of the mind and body.

Science now recognizes how the mind works seamlessly with the body.

We don’t even have to think about breathing, the body takes care of it.

However, if you decide to slow your breathing down, your body responds immediately and you accomplish this task. If you ask your body to lift up your right arm, you can see your arm responding to this command as your arm lifts.  There is no debate.

However, if seeing is believing, it’s no wonder why it’s difficult to fathom that our thoughts and demands could impact our internal physiology that we cannot see.

Researchers are studying how through the use of meditation, guided imagery and consciously focusing on specific areas, subjects are able to change their brain waves, brain chemistry, and ultimately measurable physical results are occurring.

The placebo effect is a phenomenon that was coined in 1950.

Defined as “a beneficial effect in a patient following a particular treatment that arises from the patient’s expectations concerning the treatment rather than from the treatment itself.”

Psychology Today explains, “the placebo effect is no small or insignificant statistical aberration.

Estimates of the placebo cure rate range from a low of 15 per cent to a high of 72 per cent. The longer the period of treatment and the larger the number of physician visits, the greater the placebo effect.”

The placebo effect makes it more difficult for pharmaceutical companies to prove their effectiveness.

For example, if during testing a drug is found to be 70 per cent effective, yet the placebo effect is measured to be 35 per cent, the actual drug effectiveness is no more powerful than the placebo effect – the power of the subjects mind and expectation.

Harvard Health Publications states, “more important is the growing recognition that what we call the placebo effect may involve changes in brain chemistry — and that the placebo effect may be an integral part of good medical care and an ally that should be embraced by doctors and patients alike.”

What should we take home from these findings?

o Stay positive

o Get the support you need from your doctor

o Find treatments you believe in

o Know that what you think and feel matters

o Try new techniques like Guided Imagery, Meditation, Yoga, or simply try to be more aware of your own mindbody connection and be present in your daily activities

o Great reads – Biology of Belief by Bruce H. Lipton PhD.   You Are the Placebo by Dr. Joe Dispenza.

Joanne Malar is the program coordinator for Summerland Recreation, three-time Olympic swimmer, 2012 Olympic Commentator, kinesiologist and holistic nutritionist.