The placebo effect

The mind is a powerful thing. Knowing how powerful the mind is gives each person the ability to essentially create his or her placebo effect. It may take practice and patience, however believing something will happen can be a huge step towards making it happen. Here are a few ways to develop your own placebo…

1. Create a ritual
Karl-Heinz, a retired psychiatrist from Essen, Germany, takes genuine medication each day to prevent his body rejecting a kidney implant he received after being on dialysis for 12 years. The medication puts him at risk of infections and cancer, and so to further enhance his chances of surviving healthily, he adds a concoction of green liquid (a placebo) taken at the same time of day, in the same surroundings, with the same music playing in the background. He’s part of a trial exploring whether adding relaxing aids and a sense of belief can enhance immune responses and potentially decrease the amount of medication people may have to take.

2. Look for the positives
A huge amount of brain power is spent on worrying. Try using some of it to elicit a more positive response. Focus on what feels good and find a task that occupies your mind to take the body out of its cycle of stress.

3. Visualise
Many successful athletes support the power of visualisation – using their brains to create an image of what they want to achieve. Former bodybuilder-turned-actor-turned- politician Arnold Schwarzenegger can attest to thinking himself to where he is: ‘When I was very young I visualised myself being and having what it was I wanted. Mentally I never had any doubts about it.’

4. Surround yourself with support
One of the primary aspects of being healthy, as author and integrative medicine practioner Lissa Rankin explains, is a solid support network. One of the important branches of longevity within the world’s Blue Zones (countries or cities where people tend to live longer and healthier) is a strong sense of community. When a person feels supported, they’re more relaxed, and the body can start to use its natural healing mechanisms.

5. Find a doctor you trust
Putting your health into someone else’s hands can be a scary thing. Whether it’s a medical doctor, an osteopath, alternative healer or massage therapist, ensure you feel good about the person in whom you are entrusting your mind and body and allow them to play an important part in guiding you towards total wellbeing.

This article was originally published in Issue 8, Breathe Magazine – Embrace Change.