A common belief in our society today is that drugs or pills are the cure to most of our ailments. The global drug market is today worth over $1.3 Trillion but we often overlook a critical factor in our recovery from illness. A factor that every single scientific study aims to account for and ensure doesn’t bias the results. It is so effective and powerful that basically every study in the world is proving its existence and power.
We are of course talking about the power of the mind and placebo effect. The placebo effect is the idea that your brain can convince your body a sugar pill treatment is the real thing and thus stimulate healing. Interestingly newer science has found that under the right circumstances, a placebo can be just as effective as drug treatments.
"The placebo effect is more than positive thinking — believing a treatment or procedure will work. It's about creating a stronger connection between the brain and body and how they work together," says Professor Ted Kaptchuk of Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, whose research focuses on the placebo effect.
What this boils down to is that we are given one body with an amazing, untapped natural power. It's technology is available to everyone but we have to learn how to tap into and maximise the effectiveness of these systems. One of these systems is our immune system for healing and prevention, but ultimately the brain is the computer that drives us and we need to learn it’s incredible power.
This really hit home for me and the team when we had Lee Chambers on the Power is Within Us. Lee at the age of 28 woke up one day to find out he couldn’t walk. His immune system had reacted oddly and attacked his knees making them seize up. Doctors thought he may never walk again. Heart-breaking for most but Lee had a 6-month old baby and another on the way. This meant Lee was more determined than ever to get back on his feet. He had a clear objective and a purpose to help drive him there.
A year of incredible hard work, perseverance and determination led Lee to be able to walk again. An amazing achievement that defied medical science. What led Lee to be able to make such a dramatic recovery, well in short, his determined brain. It led him to examine every part of his life, improve his diet and work incredibly hard with physios.
When we have such an incredible power inside of us, it naturally raises the question of how can you give yourself a placebo effect without being in a clinical trial?
Practicing self-help methods is one way. "Engaging in the ritual of healthy living — eating right, exercising, yoga, quality social time, meditating — probably provides some of the key ingredients of a placebo effect," says Kaptchuk.
While these activities are positive interventions in their own right, the level of attention you give can enhance their benefits. "The attention and emotional support you give yourself is often not something you can easily measure, but it can help you feel more comfortable in the world, and that can go a long way when it comes to healing."