Mind over medicine. Does it work?

Photo credit: Annamagal / Foter / CC BY-NC

“This laxative is quick and powerful”. These were the words my father used to describe a chocolate based purgative he’d been offered by a colleague at work to take home and try.  He was so impressed by its action that next morning he headed back into the office hoping more was available. He’d been told that the product was being made in a factory where the man’s wife worked.  She’d sneaked out some samples.

When my father arrived, the other men in the office, who’d also tried the laxative, were talking enthusiastically about its effect. They too wanted more. Finally their colleague arrived. They crowded around him, telling him how amazingly effective it was. He started to laugh uproariously. Finally, he informed them that the ‘laxative’ he’d given them, was nothing more than pieces of a popular chocolate. Imagine my father’s chagrin.

The episode of how ordinary chocolate could work so well as a laxative, and on several people, seemed a mystery in those days. I remember my parents discussing it and my father shaking his head in disbelief. We didn’t know back then that there is an association between what a person thinks and what he or she experiences in the body. Fast forward to today. Many people, including scientists and doctors, are exploring what they acknowledge as the possible connection between the mind and its impact on bodily health.

For example, channel Nine’s Sixty Minutes reporter Allison Langdon recently discovered that research is being done on what is termed the ‘science of placebos’ and its healing effect. She says, “researchers are making revolutionary advances… They’ve now got patients undergoing pretend operations to fight disease and chronic pain, and the results are nothing short of remarkable.”

Professor Irving Kirsch at Harvard University, is pioneering research into the ‘placebo effect’ – using the power of the mind to heal the body. He says, “when you have something that works, that in some cases works almost as well as the best medications we have but is safer than those medications, shouldn’t that be part of our medical practice? Shouldn’t we want to learn how it works, and figure out how we can make use of it?”

Harris Dienstfrey corroborates Kirsch’s views. He writes in his essay in Consciousness & Healing, “There is as yet no bottom to the well of the mind’s capacity to do in the body what any newly invented drug can do. The problem the drug is treating does not matter. The mind is expansive enough to treat the problem. Put it this way: The mind so far can do (for some people) what all the pharmaceutical labs of the world together haven’t been able to do.”

The power of the mind to heal is not a modern concept. An earlier pioneer into the power of ‘the mind over medicine’ was Mary Baker Eddy. Her research and spiritual practice sprang from the study of ancient Scripture which documented the healing work of prophets and Christ Jesus.  This scholarship brought to light a further aspect to consider – something beyond the human mind’s influence on the body – namely, the link between the divine Mind, spirituality and health.

Eddy’s unsuccessful attempts to find health using the medical systems of her day – including what moderns call placebos - finally led her to this spiritual approach, which restored her health. She wrote a book about it, developed a system of healing, and taught others that method. Her one hundred and thirty year-old legacy of health and healing is still being experienced by people around the world in changed lives and improved health.

As a beneficiary of her pioneering work, I’ve personally felt its benefits. For over five decades, whenever I’ve had a health problem, I’ve drawn on the power of what I describe as ‘scientific spiritual thinking’, or ‘scientific prayer’. As a consequence,  I’ve never had to employ the services of a doctor, or take medicine to this date.  In every instance, the implementation of ideas presented in the Scriptures and Science and Health has led to a powerful change in my thinking, and as a follow on, in my body. As a result, I’ve been returned to good health.

My life-experience, may seem somewhat surprising to those unfamiliar with modern  research on the power of the mind to heal, and the ‘placebo effect’. It may also seem hard to mentally take the next step – believing in the power of a divine Mind to beat ill health.  Yet the latter has been effectively practiced by three generations of women in my family. Perhaps, further down the track, experiences like mine will lead to a recognition of the potential of this new frontier – the medicine of Mind and its power to heal the body.

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I'm a Melbourne based health writer who provides a perspective on the connection between spirituality, thought and health. As a keen blogger, my aim is to provide the public with a diversity of health content including research into the mind-body connection and how thought affects health.

Comments

  1. Diane says

    This is a terrific article that explains how Christian Science healing works quite simply. I often get too complicated when I try to explain to others but I’ve now saved this article to send to a few friends . Thanks Beverly!

  2. Beverly says

    Thanks Diane for your comment. So glad you found my blog helpful. The next frontier is the divine Mind AS medicine..and I am so pleased to say that it works. I’ve been healed many times and so have countless others. Thanks for sharing the good news.

  3. Pauline Rita Noorts says

    Thank you Beverly for the remimder we live in thought and all the helpful ideas coming to us from your reaching out on this site we can all grow from and with, loving thoughts always in all-ways,…Pauline.

    • Beverly says

      Hello Pauline. So glad you liked this blog. It’s my pleasure to share thoughts about the medicine of Mind which is quick and powerful. Many people around the world are proving this every day. They’re experiencing its effectiveness in changed lives and improved health. It’s news worth sharing.

  4. anne wiggs says

    Another great article! Thanks Beverly.
    I too saw the documentary on “placebo’s”. It struck me how perfectly healthy we must always be, when, one can go into surgery with an ailment, have nothing done and then awake to experience perfect health! I have even heard that in some cases (heart surgery, where nothing was done except surgically open and close the chest) that better results were achieved than for those that had the legitimate operation! I guess we know that health is our natural and normal condition really, otherwise it would be futile to try to correct it. Isn’t it wonderful that every-one is beginning to realize this, including the medical profession, who have always had mankind’s best interest at heart, bless them. At this rate before you know it, there will be no sick to heal! Happy Days!

  5. Beverly says

    Thank you Anne for your comment. Yes good health is natural to everyone. The medicine of divine Mind is available to be discovered and utilizied by anyone, anytime. An awakening to this fact is thus a distinct possibility now and in the future.

  6. Yvonne says

    Hello Beverly. Another helpful blog thank you. Mary Baker Eddy covers this so well in her book, Science and Health on page 142 line 125 to 143 line 4. It is encouraging to hear that the medical profession are beginning to realise this now. Love Yvonne

    • Beverly says

      Thanks Yvonne for your comment. Mary Baker Eddy did a great deal of research in this area decades ago, and it is heartening to see that others continue to delve into this area of Mind medicine. This can only lead to better health outcomes for people seeking to be well.