The brain can heal the body: that's the remarkable truth behind the body's placebo response. As one of the nation's foremost authorities on the mysterious connection between mind and body, Dr. Howard Brody introduces a radical new understanding of this phenomenon -- and how it can be used to foster good health. The body, says Brody, has an "inner pharmacy" that the brain taps into, according to what we anticipate, how we are conditioned by experience, and how we interpret events. Consider the following:In one study, people with allergies showed no response when exposed to the irritant, when they were first convinced it was something. Sham surgery has sometimes produced lasting results, indistinguishable from the results of real operations.Patients recover faster from surgery when they have window views of trees or grass, rather than brick walls.
But the placebo response is more than an astonishing medical fact -- it can be put to practical use. The Placebo Response gives you access to a new kind of alternative medicine, one proven by science and found within your own body.
Brody (The Healer's Power) offers an engrossing and illuminating look at the placebo response and how it can be harnessed to promote physical and mental well-being. Brody, director of the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences at Michigan State University, defines the placebo effect broadly: he views it as a large set of processes, the "mysterious phenomenon of the mind working in tandem with the body." That is, Brody explains, we all have an "inner pharmacy" containing healing chemicalsÄendorphins, for exampleÄthat can be activated by signals from the environment in the way that healing responses are often evoked by the surreptitious replacement of medication by a sugar pill (a "placebo")Äthe medication is fake, but the healing response is real. Rigorous and thorough, Brody (with his coauthor and wife) presents a comprehensive array of scientific studies to support his theory, starting with Dr. Henry Beecher's influential 1955 article, "The Powerful Placebo," which broke ground by studying suffering and healing within a group of soldiers in WWII as compared with civilians. A careful scientist, Brody also includes the arguments of researchers who disagree with him, and he tells a personal story about his wife's experience with the placebo response. Readers, however, will likely be more interested in Brody's advice on how they can stimulate their own inner pharmacy to combat illness. The author argues that key elements for stimulating healing are constructing a meaningful story about the condition, being open to alternative and traditional medicine, finding a physician with whom you can form a healing partnership and maintaining positive social connections. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved