As physiotherapist I am very interested in helping individuals create an environment conducive to healing and I personally do this in many ways including things that are outside the traditional physiotherapy parameters. However traditional physiotherapy helps individuals do this by assisting mainly the physical body, by ensuring muscle length tension around joints is balanced, strength of muscles is appropriate and that joints have the optimum range of motion. But often we forget that your mind has a lot to do with how quickly you get better and has a significant contribution in creating an environment conducive to healing.
There has been a strong understanding of the mind body connection in many ancient healing modalities but western allopathic medicine also knows this to be true and a double blinded placebo study shows how strong this connection is.
Randomized double blinded placebo control (RDBPC) studies is where individuals are randomly assigned to interventions. One group will be assigned to the ‘control group’ and given a placebo and the other will be given the intervention the group are researching. Placebo is when an individual is given a treatment that appears to look just like the actual treatment, this can be in the form of a pill, injection, liquid or procedure.
1 in 3 people who receive a placebo will have 2 things happen; they either have positive changes in their symptoms i.e they improve without the “real” treatment intervention OR they have a negative change and they get side effects, this effect is called Nocebo.
So what determines which way you will go?……………………………………………………….
It is your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and a big one …. your EXPECTATIONS which can change your body chemistry and allow a change either for better or worse.
An outrageous example of this is a study that looked at chemotherapy drugs for gastric cancer. Fielding et al., (1983) studied 411 individuals which were grouped into three categories; group A where given a placebo injection of normal saline, group B where given a cocktail of chemotherapy drugs and group C where given another mix of chemotherapy drugs. As you would expect group B and C had the largest group of people to get alopecia (loss of hair) but this isn’t the interesting part! GROUP A who were simply given a saline injection also had individuals who experienced hair loss, in fact 30.8% of them!!!
It was their BELIEF that chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss that created a physical change in their body chemistry resulting in a tangible physical result!!! It is a perfect example on how your thoughts and emotions can cause a physical change that will either help you heal or get worse!
Researcher and psychotherapist Kelly Turner , Ph.D, researched thousands of cases of spontaneous cancer remission only to find that these cases were not so spontaneous at all and that there were many factors that were contributing to these remissions. One of these factors was that these individuals understood the idea that thoughts and emotions have a direct effect on the body and this effect could be negative and illness producing or positive and health producing.
In her research she found that individuals understood that thoughts such as fear, worry, anxiety, anger, resentment, grief, sadness and depression had a negative impact on their health and healing. While non worry, calmness, relaxation, forgiveness, happiness, joy and love had an overwhelming positive effect on their health and recovery.
The healing journey can be a long road that can at times feel never ending, have you ever asked yourself what are the over riding thoughts and emotions that flow through your mind? What is your level of expectation that you will improve? Do you have faith that a particular outcome will occur?
Even though thoughts and feelings are difficult to change in an instant, it is important to at least acknowledge what your current thoughts and feelings are ……
Fielding, J. W. L., Fagg, S. L., Jones, B. G., Ellis, D., Hockey, M. S., Minawa, A., … Wrigley, P. F. M. (1983). An interim report of a prospective, randomized, controlled study of adjuvant chemotherapy in operable gastric cancer: British stomach cancer group. World Journal of Surgery, 7(3), 390–399. doi:10.1007/bf01658089
Turner, K (2014). Radical remission surviving cancer against all odds. NY. HarperCollins Publishing.