The Mind Heals The Body – New Research

This post may transform your life. It’s about a revolution in scientific thinking about health that is close to breaking out of university labs and into the mainstream.

  • Ten cleaners were told their day to day job provided the same level of exercise as working out at a gym. Within one month, their fitness had improved with weight loss and lowered blood pressure – real physiological benefits with no change in lifestyle.
  • People with a positive attitude to ageing are less likely to develop hearing loss, frailty and illness, including Alzheimer’s. You really are as young as you feel.
  • Injecting someone with a saline solution and telling them its anaesthetic achieves 90% of the results of actual anaesthesia without any risk of cardiovascular shock which comes from surgery without sedation.
  • An empty inhaler produces 30% of the benefits of the drug for asthma sufferers.
  • Beliefs about anxiety can change someone’s measured response to stress.
  • A sham operation to insert an aortal stent for angina sufferers has the same good effects on health as an actual operation.
  • A team from Switzerland administered a placebo in a VR environment and caused pain reduction in a real-life limb.
  • A sugar pill branded as Nurofen was as effective as actual painkillers.
  • Parkinson’s is caused by a deficiency of dopamine in the frontal lobe. A placebo can improve symptoms by 30% as the brain adjusts of its own accord.

The power of expectation is so strong it can determine how long you live.

All of these findings and more besides come from labs at Stanford, Harvard, Oxford and other leading research establishments. We’ve known about the Placebo Effect for a long time, but scientists are now realising how powerful the mind alone is in healing the body.

Alia Crum, lead researcher at Stanford, says, “Our minds aren’t passive observers simply perceiving reality as it is; our minds actually change reality. In other words, the reality we will experience tomorrow is in part a product of the mindset we hold today.”

By the 21st century, many drug clinical trials were failing – not because the drugs were becoming any worse, but because the ‘control’ placebos were becoming significantly more effective. The more people became aware of the placebo effect, the more their bodies provided the same responses as the new drugs.

Placebos – actually labelled as placebos – have now been proven successful in trials for migraine, hay fever, IBS, depression, ADHD and menopausal hot flushes.

But the latest research shows placebos can be done away with altogether. Words alone are enough to trigger the response – affirmations, visualisations, all those New Age things that science-minded people steer away from. And they work with the treatment of more serious illnesses too. The mind really does heal the body.

Clearly it’s not a matter of simply believing – otherwise we wouldn’t have significantly more dead anti-vaxxers than vaccinated people. And no one would suggest avoiding regular medical treatment and merely wishing hard. But results emerging from the labs about the body’s own healing abilities are quite shocking.

There’s a flipside too, which I’m not going to get into here. But if you’re a negative person and believe you’re going to get worse or age faster, you will. You can even ‘believe’ yourself into death.

These new findings are so powerful I’m going to return to them a few times. This is just a preliminary. But you don’t have to take my word for it. All the research details are found in a new book, The Expectation Effect: How Your Mindset Can Transform Your Life by New Scientist writer David Robson.

It’s worth paying attention.

Where The Land Meets The Sea

In the old stories, magic happened on the edges of things. The liminal zones. Doorways to somewhere else.

Where the fields brushed up against the dark forests. On the top of hills where they touched the sky. Beside lakes, where Arthur gained his sword of power from the Otherworld of gods that existed through the surface.

And where the land meets the sea.

Research has shown that dreams are stronger there. The sound of the waves changes the brain’s rhythms, making it more receptive, meditative. Perhaps conjuring up the boom of the mother’s heart, through the amniotic fluid, perhaps not.

A 2015 study showed being beside the sea activated the parasympathetic nervous system, slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure. It cuts stress, reducing the amount of the hormone cortisol in the blood stream, just by watching waves.

Sea swimming delays the onset of dementia, according to a recent study. And at the same time, it boosts the ‘happy hormone’ dopamine by a whopping 250%, reducing depression and anxiety.

Research by Dr Jo Garrett of Exeter University showed people who lived by the sea had much better mental health than those who lived inland, and it reduced the requirement for antidepressants and other medication.

Dreams. Sea. Stars. The moon. A place where you can connect with a different reality and conjure up a different way of being.

The Future Is Coming Fast

Nothing really changes unless there’s a crisis. If something kinda sorta works, we muddle on because the effort, time, cash and reputations on the line to bring about change look like too high a price to pay for decision-makers.

But when terrible things happen we get Great Leaps Forward that spin us into brighter futures.

Without four years of Trump standing up for white supremacy and shifting resources into the pockets of billionaires, would we have got Biden’s transformative Presidency tackling the climate emergency, deep-rooted racial injustice, healthcare and an unbalanced economy? All issues that people said couldn’t be changed fast. All things that are now being tackled.

Crises are terrible, but crises disrupt stagnant or sclerotic systems.

The pandemic has been devastating with millions of lives lost. Yet out of it we’re seeing medical advances that are propelling us into a new and better world.

The mRNA technology which was used in a Covid-19 vaccine to massive success will change the face of medicine. It can be used to turn our own bodies into super-powerful drug-producing factories. Trials have already shown breakthroughs in treating advanced cancers, MS and malaria, and vaccines are now being developed for these and other illnesses.

mRNA’s promise ranges from the expensive-yet-experimental to the glorious-yet-speculative. But the past year was a reminder that scientific progress may happen suddenly, after long periods of gestation. “This has been a coming-out party for mRNA, for sure,” says John Mascola, the director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “In the world of science, RNA technology could be the biggest story of the year. We didn’t know if it worked. And now we do.”

It’s worth reading the entire well-researched article from The Atlantic linked above. Out of the bad, good things will come.

News On The UK Coronavirus Vaccine

Announced today: The University of Oxford has reached a partnership agreement with AstraZeneca to ensure its Covid-19 vaccine, if successful, can be manufactured and distributed to those who need it, not just across the UK but also to the poorest countries in the developing world.

This will be on a not-for-profit basis throughout the pandemic.

This is an historic coming together and will have repercussions far beyond the current crisis.

If you want to learn more, read Oxford Uni’s announcement here.