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Dr Russ Blog - Use Your Head!
Use Your Head!
Created on 4/8/2011

We've all heard talk about the mind-body connection, but what does that really mean? Can thoughts really influence the body?

It sounds far-fetched to many at first, but think about it for a moment.

When you're in a scary movie and it gets to the "good" part, without even realizing it you're likely breathing a little faster, your heart is beating a little more quickly, and the palms of your hands may even be getting a little sweaty.

And yet, nothing is actually happening to you (thank goodness that scary monster is just on film!) - still, your mind interprets the data it is receiving and causes a reaction in your body.

Pretty interesting.

Now, what if that power could be harnessed for health?

Research shows that it can - in fact, that research is the basis for promoting therapies such as meditation, breath work, clinical hypnosis and biofeedback. The science is strong and the health benefits proven to be significant in many instances.

Now consider a person with a medical problem who is offered treatment they do not believe in - does it make a difference?

Indeed, it does. Recent studies show that people who expect that a given therapy will not benefit them may not have as successful an outcome as those who honestly believe the treatment will help. This seems to be the case whether the treatment is a pill or surgery.

Switch that around - the person is given a treatment that the medical team has explained fully, and the person honestly believes the treatment will help - good stuff?

Yes - those who believe in their treatment seem to have a more successful outcome.

Is it all in our heads?

Not all of it, of course, but we can use our minds to help our physical bodies to be well, even when it comes to treating medical problems.

As far as belief in a given therapy goes, the responsibility really lies with our doctors and the medical team. If the message we've been given is, "Hey, just take this and see what happens," we may be less likely to get better than if we're honestly told, "I believe this treatment will help you."

The distinction may be subtle, but it's powerful.

And honesty is extremely important here.

Belief has to be based in trust, and trust is the foundation of a healing relationship of any kind, especially one between doctor and patient.

If you don't believe in a therapy being offered to you, tell your doctor - she or he may be able to better explain the treatment so that you have more confidence in it. The expectation of a successful outcome may help make it so.

So use your head - and be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **

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