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.

Cancer Treatment On The Brink Of A Breakthrough

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Some pretty astonishing research has been carried out at my old alma mater, the University of Leeds, but none more so than the latest ground-breaking work in treatment for brain cancer.

Susan Short, the Professor of Clinical Oncology and Neuro-oncology, says, “I tend to shy away from the world ‘cure’ but this is the most exciting potential treatment I’ve seen in my career.”

The Leeds discovery will revolutionise cancer treatment, and means, in theory, that brain cancer can be cured with a simple injection.  Professor Short is now leading the attempt to fund the final stage of the research from alumni.

The team’s approach utilises a virus to turn on the body’s own immune system to fight one of the deadliest forms of cancer and one which has seen very few advances in treatment in recent years.  It’s a deceptively simple theory.  Cancer hides from the immune system.  When the virus infects tumour cells (see the diagram above), the immune system recognises the virus and is switched on to fight the cells.

The key is to use a virus that’s essentially harmless to the rest of the body, but is toxic to cancer cells. This delivers a double blow to the cancer – the virus and the immune system both attack cancer cells.

Until now the only way to get these therapies into the brain was through surgery. But the Leeds breakthrough uses a simple injection into the bloodstream, which sends the virus directly to the brain tumour.

Leeds is the only UK university researching this treatment, and it has the experts and facilities in place to see it through to completion once the latest tranche of funding has been complete.  The alumni research fund can be found here.