Dr. Lissa Rankin explores the awesome potential of your body’s self-healing ability, and shares some astounding studies that will challenge what you think you know….
Research into the placebo effect is now quite staggering and is easily accessible in both the medical and other literature. Less documented and commented upon is the nocebo effect which is no less potent (see Epigenetics). In May 2004 a group of scientists (at the Medical School of Turin University) carried out an unprecedented study looking at the power of belief to heal, in a medical situation. They began by administering drugs that mimicked the effect of dopamine (a neurotransmitter) that relieved the patients’ symptoms. These drugs had a short lifespan in the body, lasting only about an hour, so as they wore off the symptoms would return. 24 hours later, the patients underwent a medical procedure where they ‘believed’ they were receiving a substance which would restore their brain chemistry to normal levels. In reality they were given a simply saline solution that should have had no effect on their condition at all. Following the electronic scans of the patients’ brains what was seen was quite unbelievable.
Their brain cells had responded to the procedure as if they had been given the drug that originally eased their symptoms. Fabrizio Benedetti, the team leader of the study, stated it was the first time that he’d seen such an effect at the neuron level. This research supported similar studies that had been conducted at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. These investigations showed that placebos could actually raise the brain’s levels of dopamine.
It’s interesting to note that in 1864 William James MD, who is best known as the Father of Psychology, wrote in an article that he was in little doubt that the real power of healing was less about procedures and more about the way doctors help their patients to feel about themselves. See what you think….