The Placebo Effect: Using Your “Inner Healer.”
The word placebo (from the Latin “I shall please”) refers to a substance that has no medicinal value but, when taken, cures a person of a disease or relieves a symptom. Thousands of scientific studies have shown that the placebo effect is one of the most powerful healing factors there is. Whenever a new drug is tested for safety and efficacy, experiments show that a large percentage of people who do not get the real test drug but instead receive a “sugar pill” nevertheless get better.
Why do people get better if they are not given a real medicine? It’s because they believe that they have received an effective drug. That is why belief is often referred to as “the healer within.”
Because the mind is capable of changing physiology, belief in the healing power of something can promote healing and health from within. Precisely how the placebo effect works is not understood, nor do we understand why it works for some people but not others. But it does work. Belief in a doctor’s healing ability, a medicine’s power, an herbal tea, a certain food, magnets, copper bracelets, crystals, prayer, meditation, a shaman — just about anything can act as a placebo.
Creating your own positive mental imagery is a good way to use your “inner healer” to help you with a health problem. For example, if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or blocked arteries, spend some quiet time each day visualizing how these processes can be brought under control. For clogged blood vessels, you could visualize a tiny roto-rooter man moving through your arteries to clean out the plaque. For high blood pressure, you might imagine air being let out of a balloon and the pressure on the balloon (blood vessels) becoming less and less. For an injury such as a burn, bruise, or broken bone, you can visualize the area as it was just before the accident occurred. Notice that the skin is smooth, unbroken, and free of pain. This is a good exercise to do immediately after any kind of injury.
The more you practice using your mind and imagination to heal some condition, the better you will become at using your “inner healer.”
Further information: WA Brown, “The Placebo Effect”, Scientific American, Vol. 278, pg. 90 (1998).
Written by Gordon Edlin, Ph.D., thehealthchannel.com Editorial Team