News & reviews

30/08/2011

Scientists explore mind-body health

Many people know that our minds can influence our bodies in ways that impact on our health, but scientific research and evidence has been slow in reaching the public arena. So it's interesting to see New Scientist covering this topic in its issue dated 27 August 2011 – with a leading/cover article entitled "Heal thyself – the real power of mind over matter."

The article covers "six ways to raid your own built-in medicine cabinet", namely:

  • Fool yourself [about the placebo effect]
  • Think positive
  • Trust people
  • Meditate
  • Hypnotise yourself
  • Know your purpose

Quoting from various experts, trials and studies, the science journalist Jo Marchant looks at how we can all access health benefits through the power of our minds. For example, the placebo section (Fool yourself) highlights that "the way we think and feel about medical treatments can dramatically influence how our bodies respond" and how simple sugar pills can produce measurable health changes, even when people have been told that the pills they were taking are inert.

We also find out how learning to think more positively can lower stress responses; how loneliness and perceived social isolation can have a significant negative impact on your health; how meditation boosts health and might even slow ageing; how hypnotherapy can help people influence parts of their body, to improve conditions such as IBS; and how feeling that you are living in a way you find meaningful and spending more time doing what you love seems to lead to better health too. Do read the article for more information (www.newscientist.com).