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How we think changes our chemistry: the placebo effect

Nadine Watters
How we think changes our chemistry: the placebo effect
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We read that our habitual thought patterns turn into the things in our lives. What we put our focus on becomes our reality. Is this really true? Can thoughts really change our physical bodies?

The placebo effect

There’s lots of information about the placebo, however, scientists still appear to be mystified by the causes and effects of this powerful “treatment.” They don’t really know why the placebo effect works however it is theorized that brain chemistry actually changes in a person when they think they are taking medicine to help them. Some scientists call this deceptive and therefore discount these effects. Others argue that if it works, it’s still a form of health care.

There seems to be some necessary factors that are involved in making the placebo effect work, “such as the labeling of the therapist by the patient, the credibility of the therapeutic setting, the credibility of the medicine per se (size, shape, colour, taste), and so on.” (1)  In a 2012 newsletter from Harvard Medical School, scholars wrote asking for a shift in thinking on the placebo effect saying that expectation plays a key role in how placebo affect works and how the mind can change how pain in perceived in the body. (2)

Many studies have been conducted on the placebo effect: from IBS to MS, and have shown positive results. This seems to suggest that we have the power of our minds to help us in our healing. This places a big emphasis that perhaps how we value what we are doing plays an important role in our healing.

There has been many anecdotal stories of people putting healing words on everything from their water to their chemotherapy treatments. They find that when they “charge” their treatments with positive intentions, their outcomes were more favorable. In the mildest terms, this means that whatever we put our mind to doing, we can make happen in time and with persistence.

Sources for this article include:

(1) Kleijnen, J. (1996). The importance of the placebo effect, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Volume 4, Issue 2, Pages 139-141.

(2) Putting the placebo effect to work. Rather than dismiss it, we should try to understand the placebo effect and harness it when we can. (2012). Harvard Health Letter / From Harvard Medical School, 37(6), 1-2.

Image source: https://flic.kr/p/4Enhme

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