What is mind-body medicine?
Mind-body medicine uses the power of thoughts and emotions to influence physical health. As Hippocrates once wrote, “The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.” This is mind-body medicine in a nutshell.
In ancient Greece, three doctors would see the patient together. They were the “knife” doctor, the “herb” doctor, and the “word” doctor. The modern day counterparts (surgeon, internist and psychiatrist) rarely see a patient together, let alone even speak together.
While phrases such as “mind over matter” have been around for years, only recently have scientists found solid evidence that mind-body techniques actually do fight disease and promote health. In 1989 a clinical study by David Spiegel, M.D. at Stanford University School of Medicine demonstrated the power of the mind to heal. Of 86 women with late stage breast cancer, half received standard medical care while the other half received standard care plus weekly support sessions. In these sessions, the women were able to share both their grief and their triumphs. Spiegel discovered that the women who participated in the social support group lived twice as long as the women who did not. A similar clinical study in 1999 showed that in breast cancer patients, helplessness and hopelessness are associated with lesser chance of survival.
Current research on stress has shown that anything which influences our minds also influences our bodies. Expose someone to enough stress and sooner or later you will see their body showing signs of strain as a result of that stress. The strain of stress does not have to be as dramatic as a heart attack. The body can express strain by more subtle or chronic symptoms, such as irritable bowel, headache, rash, hypertension, or simply making other conditions worsen.
One of the principles behind mind-body healing is that the same mechanism that can make you sick can also be used to make you well. That is, your thoughts, emotions, responses to the environment, lifestyle, and inner conflicts can be experienced as stressful, or they may be used in a positive manner to create healing responses.
Top 5 Mind-Body Medicines:
This month at The Center for Natural & Integrative Medicine, we are offering events that are related to the brain and also workshops on the mind-body connection using meditation and mindfulness. For more information, see our calendar of events or contact our office: (407) 355-9246