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The Mind-Body Debate
by Boyd Martin

Mind Body As medicine lurches into the 21st Century, several new fields of research are popping up around the mind-body connection. Such phenomena as the "placebo effect" and "spontaneous healings," previously considered mere anomolies, are now becoming important areas for research.

Fields such as psychoneuroimmunology and psychoneuroendricrinoloy are busy proving the link between mind and body. Theories behind the body being a mere machine where you add ingredients or remove parts to make it run better are starting to seem archaic. Thoughts have a profound affect on the body, and this is upsetting the apple cart across the boards of medical science. It is now being proposed that it is not the brain that "makes" us feel the way we do--it's the thoughts causing the brain to command the endocrine excrete hormones and enzymes that cause us to feel the way we do.

For example, a recent study found that fans of a losing team had 50 percent lower levels of testosterone after their team lost, and fans had up to 100% higher levels of testosterone after their team won. This shows how a mere attitude affects hormone secretions.

A new study conducted at Ohio State University and published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology has revealed that having social interaction makes wounds heal faster. In fact, this study demonstrated that wounds heal twice as fast in subjects who had social interaction compared to those who were isolated. This effect is well-documented, and the intermediary cause of this is the production of the stress hormone cortisol in response to being in isolation.

Common types of social interactions such as romance, or laughter, can be very healing, which 30 years ago would be considered an anomaly. It is now researched and well documented.

Laugh it up! Some brain-altering chemicals such as serotonin and other immune-boosting chemicals such as interleukins are boosted by laughing. These chemicals have extraordinary positive healing effects on body and mind. They increase immune system function, improve the outlook on life; tend to diminish symptoms of depression; and because they help reduce stress, they will also prevent all of the various diseases and disorders that are caused by chronic stress. In other words, laughter can help counteract the destructive, negative health consequences of chronic stress.

Products of new mind-body research has even ended up in hospital emergency rooms. University of Kansas professor M. Eric Wright discovered verbal first aid in 1990, when he experimented with two groups of emergency medical technicians. The control group was told to continue normal emergency response procedure, but the other group was given a set of parameters to follow:

  1. Minimize extraneous input, such as witnesses' reactions.
  2. Say a specific paragraph that includes: "The worst is over...[Tell your body to preserve itself. Encourage healing and limited blood loss]... You're in a safe position. The worst is over."
  3. Don't talk too much about anything else.
After six months of following these parameters, the trained group's patients were admitted to the hospital from the emergency room less often, stayed a shorter time in the hospital and experienced a much lower mortality rate. In fact, the results were so positive that the control group repeatedly asked Professor Wright for training so that they could help their patients better. The practice has now been adopted in hospitals around the world, and is a handy tool in dealing with the common emergencies of raising a family.

The full rewards of mind-body research have yet to be seen, but herald a new era in medical effectiveness and socially in the general health and well-being of everyone.


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