We’ve all heard of the placebo effect, spontaneous remission and people who have healed when the doctors predicted otherwise, but do we really understand why these things happen?
In her book, “Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself,” author Lissa Rankin M.D., set out to uncover the true reasons people heal, and in doing so managed to heal herself from a number of chronic conditions, including debilitating allergies, high blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmias.
Citing scientific research and clinical studies, Rankin explains how our beliefs, emotions, relationships and lifestyle either elicit the relaxation response in the body or trigger the stress response, known as fight of flight.
“When your body is in the middle of a stress response, your body’s self-maintenance and self-repair functions come to a screeching halt,” Rankin says in the book. “The stressors of daily life – things like loneliness, unhappy relationships, work stress, financial stress, anxiety and depression – result in forebrain thoughts and feelings that repetitively trigger the hypothalamus to elicit stress responses.”
The repetitive triggering of the stress response leads to the breakdown of systems in the body. It’s through the counterbalance of the relaxation response that the body can truly heal, says Rankin.
“When you feel optimistic and hopeful, loved and supported, in the flow in your professional or creative life, spiritually nourished, or sexually connected to another person, the relaxation response takes the place of the stress response … and the body can go about its natural self-repair process, preventing illness and taking its stab at treating disease that already exists. As a result, disease is more likely to be prevented in well people, and disease may even be treated in sick people,” she says in the book.
Rankin walks readers through practices she used to heal herself, including meditation, uncovering and changing limiting beliefs and finding a creative outlet through painting. She offers exercises to help uncover what the root case of a person’s illnesses may be and what needs to change in their life in order to set the body up for healing.