Your mind can dictate your experiences to nearly any degree. It’s that simple. Just look at the mountain of evidence rising above yoga, transcendental meditation, hypnosis, and even the placebo effect. If your mind is convinced of something, you will perceive it as being true. That is the power of your brain over your entire body.
In a related yet slightly different matter, if your brain is told to anticipate something, then it may be able to brace itself for that upcoming event and thus reduce its impact. One study out of the School of Medicine at Wake Forest University aimed to show this. In the study, 75 healthy college students took part in research on nausea. Specifically, the research was about what happens when the brain expects nausea to occur.
The researchers gathered evidence that proved telling patients beforehand that they would feel sick in the near future could significantly ease their nausea symptoms. The study found that students who expected the nausea ended up experiencing less nausea than those who were unprepared for it did. Divided into three groups, the first group received placebo, the second was told the pill would give them nausea, and the third was told it would have no impact on their nausea.
The students then sat in a rotating instrument covered in stripes, specialized to simulate movement and potential sickness. Stomach activity was measured by attaching electrodes to the students’ abdomens.
Over an intercom, researchers asked the students about their nauseous symptoms. They discovered that the participants who were told the pill wouldn’t cause nausea had symptoms that were 2.5 times worse than the participants who were told to expect nausea did. The unprepared students also had stomach activity related to nausea that was 30% higher.
After surgery, people often experience lingering side effects, one of which is nausea. Now, we know that if doctors prepare patients for those symptoms, it could reduce the post-surgery nausea that is related to the operation or subsequent treatment.
This could conceivably work for many therapies, including chemotherapy. If people prepare for potential side effects, then that simple act can significantly affect their response to it. When the mind is prepared, the body can cope. You don’t need a doctor to help you prepare. If you are about to go through something that you know will cause a few symptoms, then gear yourself up for it. It may be well worth the effort.