The Mind as a HealerWe live in an age of wild health claims. Miracle diets, miracle foods, miracle herbs, miracle medical treatments and claims of miraculous results bombard us every day. There are a lot of problems with what is happening in the health industry. It is very difficult for the average person to know what is a valid claim and what is not. What is particularly dangerous is the fact that some claimed miracle drugs and foods can be very harmful--even if they are natural. It is also important to understand that taking a miracle drug or food as a substitute for a known cure for financial or social reasons can put off medical help to the point of becoming dangerous and actually add additional expense.
There has been some literature describing what is called "the placebo effect." National Geographic (August 2004, page 1) published some of the surprising placebo effects that have been observed:
Some will say that all of this is just in the minds of people, but there is evidence that there is more going on here than that. Brain scans have shown that just the anticipation of relief in Parkinson's patients can increase dopamine production in the brain (a major factor in the disease). Our minds control our bodies and there are many chemical responses in our bodies to what we think, see, and hear. Our attitudes and our activities can have a major effect on how we respond to physical ailments. Doctors tell us that a patient's attitude has a huge effect on recovery, and we have all known people who sailed through a treatment that crippled someone else.
The human mind is an incredible example of God's design. Not only is it incredible in its ability to process data and control body functions and think, but it also has a major role to play in our health and well-being. The Christian system is a part of that design, because it offers the positive message of home and salvation that enables us to reduce fear and anxiety and face the things that the world brings upon us. All of this together gives us the potential for maximum health and enjoyment of life, and the brain is the key element in all of this. It just makes the message of the Psalmist all the more clear when he says, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and that my soul knoweth right well" (Psalm 139:14).
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