What is mind-body medicine?

William B. Salt II., MD
The field of mind-body medicine teaches that the invisible energies of thought, feeling, attitude, belief and imagination are manifested in your physical body, stirring the very fabric of your physiology and biochemistry. These invisible energies can be harnessed to aid in the treatment -- and prevention -- of disease.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have been studying the benefits of mind-body interactions for more than 25 years. They have shown that when a person engages in a repetitive prayer, word, sound or phrase while passively disregarding intrusive thoughts, a specific set of physiologic changes ensues. In what Harvard's Dr. Herbert Benson calls the "relaxation response," there is a slowing of metabolism, heart rate, respiratory rate and brain waves.

These changes are brought about by the focused attention of the invisible forces of the mind; yet they create remarkable changes in the visible physiology and biochemistry of the body. Over two decades of research by Dr. Benson and his colleagues at Harvard show that regular elicitation of the relaxation response brings about positive health benefits for numerous conditions, including high blood pressure, irregularities of heart rhythm, many forms of chronic pain, insomnia, infertility, symptoms of cancer and AIDS, premenstrual syndrome, anxiety and mild to moderate depression.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the MindBodySpirit Connection: 7 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functional Bowel Disorder, Crohn's Disease, or Colitis (Mind-Body-Spirit Connection Series.)

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the MindBodySpirit Connection: 7 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functional Bowel Disorder, Crohn's Disease, or Colitis (Mind-Body-Spirit Connection Series.)

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Mind-Body medicine is the integration of science, psychology, and neuroimmunology. It explores the connection on how your mind and thought processes affect your physical body and vice versa. There are different methods which are used in mind body medicine including biofeedback, meditation, yoga, exercise, and much more. There are also ways to improve brain function using nutrition and biochemistry, which affects physical health and mood.

Mind Body medicine acknowledges the intricate relationship between our emotional health and our physical well being. True healing begins when we understand the underlying reasons for disease presentation and progression.

In Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, someone who is constantly angry has a higher risk for cardiovascular disease over a period of time. These systems of medicine believe that chronic anger constricts the heart, setting it up for deterioration. If we could identify the anger, and treat the emotion before it presents as disease, we are practicing mind body medicine.

Mind-Body medicine looks at the whole person, rather than fragmented systems that do not communicate with each other.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.