The next time youâre going through your medicine cabinet to look for a remedy, close it and look in the mirror. What you see looking back at you could be the bestâand most overlookedânatural health remedy around. Iâm talking about your mind…and it comes down to the placebo effect.
Now, I donât want to sound like one of those people who say health is all about mental state. Itâs not, sometimes people need treatmentâbut sometimes how you may feel about a particular treatment, regardless of what science says, can make all the difference in the world.
In fact, there is even science that shows how the power of the mind can influence the effectiveness of placebo and overall health.
What is the Placebo Effect?
The true placebo effect is when a fake treatmentâusually an inactive pill or remedy consisting of water, sugar, or saline solutionâactually causes a personâs health issue to improve. When a placebo is given, often in a medical study environment, the patient taking it doesnât know itâs a âfake.â This technique has been a very common practice in medical studies over the years. Itâs how researchers have measured the effectiveness of an actual treatment; by comparing it to the effects of a placebo, which isnât expected to have any real effect on the body. However, the placebo phenomenon emerged: when some people taking a substance are told it will have a certain effect, like improving their blood pressure, for example, their symptoms have actually improved. Even though the placebo doesnât have any ingredients that should work to cure that condition! Itâs pretty amazing. It doesnât work on everyone though. Nevertheless, it does demonstrate the healing potential of the mind-body connection.
Placebo Effect: My Story
Let me tell you a little story about myself. About five or six years ago, I was busting myself up in the gym trying to get stronger. A friend of mine suggested a supplement called L-arginine that would apparently help. I took it, and saw an instant difference in my lifts. I continued to use it for three months and made all kinds of gains. But guess what? It was actually all in my head. Science has shown L-arginine to have virtually no effect on strength or long-term muscle growth whatsoever! So Iâd been really just improving on my belief that L-arginine would work: the placebo effect.
How to Take Advantage of the Placebo Effect and the Mind-Body Connection
What Iâm saying is that if you believe something is working for you and you feel good, continue with it. As long as youâre not taking too much of something to the point where itâs toxic or youâre dependent on it, then I think itâs safe to continue. Belief is a powerful thing and science, although I usually stick by it, might not be applicable to everybody all of the time.
At the end of the day, you know whatâs working for you. A good friend of mine has a grandfather whoâs nearing the century mark; he attributes his longevity to eating dinner standing up. He wonât sit down with his wife or family when they come to visit. But, because of his beliefâas odd as it may seem to usâhe keeps on living a healthy, happy life.
The Mindâs a Powerful Healing Tool
I definitely donât want to say you should ignore science, but at the same time you have to look at whatâs really happening in your life. The mind is a powerful thing and you shouldnât waste that, so use it to feel your best.
Sources for Todayâs Article:
Shmerling, R., âThe Placebo Effect: Amazing and Real,â Harvard Health Publications web site, November 2, 2015; http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-placebo-effect-amazing-and-real-201511028544.
Rimer, S., âHappiness and Health,â Harvard School of Public Health web site, Winter 2011; http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/happiness-stress-heart-disease/, last accessed December 10, 2015.