Following on from the previous blog… food is not the only thing we take into our body every day that affects how well it works! Thoughts do too, as do love and kindness! Think about what you want in your body today and be fussy not just about the types of food that you put in there but also about the thoughts that you think and the kind of information you absorb – just as the food that we eat shapes our physical body, so the thoughts that we think shape our mental world (and physical health too according to some!). It’s amazing the amount of studies that link our thoughts to our health… Things like how wounds heal faster when a person is positive¹, or how people who feel in control of their health decisions (called the Locus of Control) heal faster than people who don’t feel empowered to care for themselves², or how the difference between giving someone a drug and giving someone a placebo virtually disappears when the emphasis is laid instead on the amount of time that a Dr spends listening to their patient³.. I find it strange that the placebo effect is so often rubbished in the West – does it not matter that a person feels better? Isn’t it a good thing if this can be achieved by giving someone a sugar pill rather than a drug with nasty side effects? As part of my studies in Nutritional Therapy we looked at the way complementary medicine is seen by the media, including the whole debate surrounding the use of homeopathy – I don’t know about how this is seen in other counties but in the UK there is one man in particular (called Ben Goldacre – if you google “Goldacre on Homeopathy” you’ll see what I mean) who is very angry with homeopathy because there is no scientific evidence that he will accept and therefore it doesn’t work. Now don’t get me wrong – quacks can be dangerous and people do need to be protected- but if homeopathy didn’t work at all wouldn’t people just stop going? I went to see a homeopath after postpartum complications and believe me I was sceptical so there really was no placebo effect involved but the day after taking that one sugary little pill my main symptom went away, that was it, whereas the only thing traditional medicine managed to do was temporarily relieve it… Could it be chance? Yes, certainly. Could it be placebo? I don’t think so because I was more hopeful about the Dr’s recommendations than I was about the homeopath’s. Or could it just be that it worked? That homeopathy works? No no, says Ben Goldacre… No no! I digress… Whether homeopathy works or not is not the point of this blog entry. What does interest me though is placebos and the power of positive thought – wow! Could we perhaps bottle a few and start selling them?
1. Try googling “mind over matter? The psychology of healing”
2. Sasagawa et al (2008) Positive corelation between the use of complementary and alternative medicine and internal health locus of control Explore 4(1):38-41
3. Sorry I don’t have a reference for this – I read it in the Guardian newspaper years ago and found it so fascinating but haven’t been able to locate the exact study the paper was referring to