The difference between placebos and nocebos
When the mind improves your health through positive suggestions, it is called the placebo effect. Conversely, when that same mind engages in negative suggestions that can harm health, the negative consequences are called the nocebo effect. If positive thinking can get you out of depression and heal a damaged knee*, think what negative thinking can do in your life!
Nocebos in the consulting room
The nocebo effect can be as powerful in medicine as the placebo effect, a fact you should keep in mind the next time you walk into a doctor’s office. Through their words and gestures, doctors can convey messages to patients that undermine their hopes, messages that, in my opinion (Dr. Bruce Lipton), are often completely unfounded.
Albert Mason, for example, thinks his inability to transmit optimism to his patients has thwarted his efforts with his ichthyosis patients. Another example is the potential power of the statement, “You have six months to live.” If you choose to believe this message from your doctor, you probably won’t spend much more time on this Earth.
How do you see the world?
Your beliefs act like the filters on a camera and change the way you see the world. And your biological functioning adapts to those beliefs*. When we actually recognize that our beliefs are so powerful, we hold the key to freedom. We may not just change the codes of our genetic blueprints, but we can change our minds.
Positive perceptions of the mind promote health by stimulating immune functions, while inhibition of the functioning of these functions through negative perceptions can cause illness. Those negative perceptions can also lead to debilitating chronic psychological stress, which has a strong negative influence on the functions of the genes.
The enormous effect of stress hormones
For example, research in mice has shown that long-term exposure to stress hormones leaves a lasting mark on the genome and alters the behavior of genes that control mood and behavior. Corticosterone (the rodent version of cortisol, a glucocorticoid hormone) was added to the drinking water of one group of mice for four weeks. Mice in the control group drank plain water without this hormone.
Mice given corticosterone showed features of anxiety in behavioral tests. Assessment of gene activity showed that these mice had markedly elevated levels of Fkbp5, a protein whose human equivalent has been linked to mood disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder. [Lee 2010]
Our stress responses are intended for periodic use, such as when we occasionally have to flee from a saber-toothed tiger. The chronic nature of modern stress that occurs 24 hours a day 365 days a day puts a strain on the mechanisms of our stress response, leading to depression and other mood disorders. It is therefore not surprising that Dr. Herbert Benson, a renowned mind-body physician and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, concludes that stress accounts for as much as 90 percent of all doctor visits. [Benson 1997]
The effect of social stress
Although stress plays an important role as a risk factor in disease, epigeneticist Cole concludes that social isolation is an even stronger and underestimated risk factor. ‘If you actually measure stress with our best available instruments, it appears to be far surpassed in importance by social isolation. Social isolation is the best-researched, strongest social or psychological risk factor for illness there is. Nothing compares to that,” he told Pacific Standard magazine. [Dobbs 2013]
Cole has found that whole sectors of genes in lonely people are markedly different from those in people who are socially safe. Of the approximately 19,000 human genes, solitary and non-lonely humans showed vastly different expression responses for 209 genes, many of which play a role in the system’s inflammatory responses. Cole reasoned that if social stress reliably created this gene profile of the system, it could explain the results of his previous studies that found solitary HIV carriers succumbed to the disease so much faster than socially active HIV carriers. [Cole et al., 1996]
The secret of life
Learning how to use your mind to promote growth is the secret of life. Of course, the secret of life is no secret at all. Teachers like the Buddha and Jesus have been telling us this for millennia. Now science is pointing in the same direction. It’s not our genes but our beliefs that rule our lives…
When we change our view of the world, that is, when we ‘change our beliefs’, we change the neurochemical makeup of the blood, which then initiates a complementary change in the cells of the body. The function of the mind is to create coherence between our views and the reality we experience. That explains why my health and energy skyrocketed after I jettisoned my old, “dejected, fatalistic” worldview.
The power of the mind
Despite medical reluctance to accept the critical role our minds play in our health, science has long discovered that certain physiological systems, especially the musculoskeletal system of the body, are under the voluntary control of the conscious mind. When yogis showed that they could consciously overrule autonomous controls, such as the regulation of body temperature, blood pressure, and pH, they provided evidence of the conscious mind’s ability to influence the body’s innate intelligence.
That’s how you get started
Do you want to optimize your health and live a happy life at the same time? With the help of the information from the studies below, you can get started right away:
Change your beliefs and deepen your social contacts: Changing beliefs can cause rapid changes in gene activity. When people increase their optimism and deepen their social contacts, not only does their happiness increase, but it also significantly improves every single business and academic outcome they are tested on. [Achor 2010] [Benson 1997]
Meditate: A recent study found that just eight hours of mindful meditation was enough to significantly improve essential gene functions. Compared to a control group, those who meditated showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including lower levels of inflammation-promoting genes and altered levels of gene regulatory mechanisms. These observed changes in genetic expression are associated with faster physical recovery from stressful situations and prove that practicing mindfulness can improve health through profound epigenetic changes to the genome. [Kaliman, et al., 2014]
Think positively about aging: Research suggests that having a positive mindset can even trump some of the effects of aging. A number of studies have found that people with more positive stereotypes about aging behave differently as they get older than those with more negative stereotypes, even if they agree in other ways, including how healthy they are. to be. [Levy et al., 2014]
Put on the rose-colored glasses: Furthermore, I would like to emphasize again that there is nothing wrong with going through life with the proverbial rose-colored glasses. Those rose-colored glasses are necessary for your cells to thrive. Positive thoughts are a biological mandate for a happy and healthy life. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi:
*source: The Biology of Belief