Renowned South Bay Waterman waterman Taras Poznik received a waterman’s send off Saturday morning at the Topaz Street jetty in Redondo Beach, where he surfed when he wasn’t diving or skippering the Dive N’ Surf charger Island Diver. Nearly 300 surfers tackled big, bumpy wind swells and inside sandbars that set up slab-like sections on the reforms during the Dive N’ Surf South Bay Boardriders contest at 45th Street in Manhattan Beach. In conditions that that even most experienced surfers would pass on, nearly 100 groms (ages 5 to 12) competed in the Dive N' Surf South Bay Boardriders surf contest at 45th Street in Manhattan Beach. Gordon Santee, an energetic 65-year-old with a salt and pepper mustache, pulled a folded piece of white paper out of his pocket.
Not surprising, given that the balding, 148-pound 65-year-old, wearing a snug polo that hugged his biceps, holds 79 world records in power lifting, a strength sport that includes three weight lifting events: squat, bench press and dead lift. Sunday through Thursday Santee can be found at Lindberg Nutrition on Sepulveda and Artesia in Manhattan Beach, just a half-mile from his quaint Redondo Beach home. While Santee believes “food is the most important supplement of all,” he does take about 34 soft gel capsules a day.
For about five years, he’s been a member at Gold’s Gym in Hawthorne and 24 Hour Fitness in Hermosa Beach.
Down the hall from his garage workout station is a small room with a green street sign on the wall that reads, “Teddy Bear Trail.” Inside, hundreds of stuffed teddy bears fill ground-to-ceiling shelves that border the room. Nestled in the corner of the room full of teddy bears is a stack of plaques, most from the 2011 AAU World Bench, Deadlift, Pushpull and International Powerlifting Championships in Las Vegas.
Last April, Santee underwent his third and most recent surgery after tearing his bicep during training. He’s a rare breed, still competing in his mid-60’s, which often leaves him with less than stiff competition. His personal bests include a 563-pound dead lift at a competition in Cape Town, South Africa, at 55 years old. At 43, he bench pressed his personal best, 380 pounds, at the National Championship in Dallas. Santee said he plans to not only stay active, but also compete and referee for the next 20 to 30 years.
Science writer Jo Marchant investigated the healing power of the mind for her new book, Cure.
Jo Marchant holds a doctorate in genetics and medical microbiology and has written for New Scientist, Nature and Smithsonian. Originally published on January 26, 2016 1:37 pm While researching the book Cure, science writer Jo Marchant wanted to understand how distraction could be used to nullify pain, so she participated in a virtual reality experiment. Standing in an aisle filled with jars of whey protein at Lindberg Nutrition, where he works five days a week, he proceeded to unfold the paper. After a 38-year career in technology at different data centers, the Rochester, New York-native was set to retire in the early-2000s.
Other than being able to walk or bike to work in minutes, Santee enjoys sharing his knowledge about exercise and nutrition with others. He’ll eat six to 10 small meals a day – “It’s better for our health, so we don’t have the fluctuations in our blood sugar. These include multivitamins, antioxidants, Omega-3 oil, glutamine, calcium, Vitamin C and creatine. He also has a power lifting station in his garage – thousands of dollars of bars and two complete sets of weights – surrounded by posters of men with muscles. But having the certification lets him to stay updated on the latest technology and techniques. On Wednesdays, he focuses on dead lifting, working out his back and part of his lower body, while Saturdays are reserved for leg activities. When an accident about three years ago left him with torn tendons in his right hand, his surgeon offered a quick surgery fix.
During the first part of the experiment, Marchant sat, without distraction, with her foot in a box of unbearably hot water.
But a casual conversation with Judy Lindberg McFarland in 2003 presented a unique opportunity. Just before noon, he usually eats a turkey sandwich, followed by chicken, vegetables and rice two hours later. For those with certain cardiac risk factors, like family history, older age or cigarette smoking history, it should be kept under 100, according to the National Cholesterol Education Program. There are no trophies in sight – he’s donated them all to high school coaches to reuse for their own teams, he said.
But then Marchant put on noise-canceling headphones and began to play a snow-and-ice-themed immersive video game that had been developed specifically for burn patients.
This time, when the researcher applied the same burning pain to her foot, she barely noticed it. She says that the healing power of the brain could offer a powerful complement to modern medicine. So, for example, if you take a fake painkiller, that actually reduces pain-related activity in the brain and the spinal cord and it causes the release of natural painkillers in the brain called endorphins. And these are actually the painkillers that opioid painkillers are designed to mimic, so it's working through the same biochemical pathway that a painkiller would work through.
But if a patient with Parkinson's takes a placebo that they think is their Parkinson's drug, they get a flood of dopamine in the brain, which is exactly what you would see with the real drug. These actually work to dilate blood vessels and they cause many of the symptoms of altitude sickness. So what you see in all these different conditions is that taking a placebo, or, to be more accurate about it, our response to that placebo, can cause biological changes in the brain that actually ease our symptoms, and that's not something that's imaginary; that's something that's underpinned by these biological changes that are very similar to the biological changes you get when we take drugs. On possible explanations for why the placebo effect sometimes works Some of it seems to have to do with stress and anxiety — if we feel that we are in danger or under threat, the brain raises its sensitivity to symptoms like pain. Whereas, on the other hand, if we feel that we are safe and cared for and things are going to get better soon, we can kind of relax, we don't need to be so alert to these symptoms.
If listeners are familiar with Pavlov's dogs, so this is the idea that a physiologist called Ivan Pavlov conditions dogs so that whenever he gave them their food he would make a noise, like ring a bell for example, and eventually they came to associate the bell with their food and they would salivate just to the sound of the bell.
We can all be conditioned to have different physiological responses to a stimulus like that, and that works not just for salivation, but for things like immune responses.
So, for example, if you take a pill that suppresses your immune system, later on, if you take a similar looking placebo pill, even if there's no actual active drug in there, your body will mimic that same response. Your body has learned that response and that just happens automatically; it doesn't matter what you believe about the pill. I think, first of all, there is some evidence that honest placebos still work, so there are studies in various conditions, for example — irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, hyperactivity disorder — where patients have received placebos but they knew they were placebos and still got a benefit from that.
And that's probably all down to things like just being in a trial, the feeling that you're being helped can have those effects on the brain.
So you don't necessarily have to lie to people, but beyond that, I think what we need to do is try and understand what are the active ingredients of placebo responses — whether that's expectation, which is then influenced by all different things, such as your previous experiences with treatment, what you're told about a treatment, how sympathetic your physician is. So I think we need to try and understand those things and think how we can incorporate those elements into medical care routinely, rather than, for example, relying on fake pills. On how meditation and mindfulness can affect health The basic idea [of mindful meditation] is that you try to focus on the present moment rather than worrying about the past or the future. There have been hundreds of studies on mindfulness now, and there's very good evidence that it reduces stress and anxiety, and that it reduces symptoms such as chronic pain and fatigue.
So that's very well shown now in the analysis of lots of different studies, and that's in healthy people but also in people with depression or people with serious illness. What there's less research on is whether that feeds through into benefits for the immune system and sort of more physical health benefits, if you like. There is some evidence suggesting that mindfulness meditation can make us more resistant to infection and that's everything from winter colds to slowing the progression of HIV and that it gives people a better response, for example, than flu vaccine. There was another study suggesting that people with psoriasis responded better to their medication when they also had mindfulness training. On why slow, measured breathing helps with stress With a stress response, the brain and the body are influencing each other in both directions, so if we see a danger then that's going to make us feel stressed and one of the follow-ons from that is that our breathing is going to speed up. If you were to speed up your breathing on your own, you'd probably start to feel a bit more aroused and on edge. And, equally, if you calm the breathing down, you're kind of forcing your body into a more relaxed state and you will then experience probably fewer negative thoughts as a result. When we're stressed, our brains almost come up with negative thoughts to try and explain why we're stressed, if you like, if you're kind of anxious or worried about something, all sorts of negative thoughts are going to pop into your head, but if you can just calm that down, then that's going to have a beneficial effect on your mental state as well. On how how stress can rewire the brain — and creates more stress Your brain reflects the way that you think throughout your life. If you play violin for eight hours a day, then the parts of the brain responsible for helping you to play the violin will get larger.
If you're thinking stressful thoughts for the whole day then those parts of the brain are going to get larger and other parts of the brain will deteriorate. It's kind of an irony because then the very brain circuits that we would need to try and counter that are no longer working as well as they should, so that's why something like meditation can be helpful because just simply saying, "Oh, I'm going to change how I think now.
But it's undeniable that the mind influences the body, and some scientists are trying to better understand that relationship so that it can be harnessed in the treatment of pain, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, heart disease, depression and other problems.
My guest, Jo Marchant, is a British science journalist who's written a new book reporting on what scientists are learning about what the mind can do to promote healing and why it can do it.
She also examines what the mind cannot do and what claims made by alternative medicine go too far. She has a PhD in genetics and medical microbiology and has written for New Scientist, Nature and Smithsonian. In a lot of research studies when people improve but they've just been given, like, a sugar pill as opposed to the real medicine, it's dismissed as the placebo effect. It didn't do anything, so the fact that you improved - we're just going to dismiss that and write it off to the placebo effect. But now some researchers are trying to harness the placebo effect, figuring, like, if a sugar pill could make some people feel better, what's going on and how can we use that to help them feel better? So can you describe a little bit what this effect is - like, how researchers are trying to harness the placebo effect as something we can use to heal ourselves?
JO MARCHANT: Sure, so it's true that in some cases, people would have got better anyway, so there isn't, you know, very much that we can harness there. But what neuroscientists are finding is that taking a fake medicine, something that we believe to be something that's going to help us, really also has measurable biological effects on the brain and the body. One thing that people often don't realize about the placebo effect is there isn't just one placebo effect.
So for example, if you take a fake painkiller, that actually reduces pain-related activity in the brain and the spinal cord and it causes the lease of natural painkillers in the brain called endorphins.
And even with altitude sickness, for example, if somebody at altitude takes fake oxygen, you see a reduction in neurotransmitters called prostaglandins. And these actually work to dilate blood vessels and they cause many of the symptoms of altitude sickness.
So what you see in all these different conditions is that taking a placebo - or to be more accurate about it, our response to that placebo can cause biological changes in the brain that actually ease our symptoms.
That's something that's underpinned by these biological changes that are very similar to the biological changes you get when we take drugs.
Like, what explains that the proper hormones are released when people take a placebo depending on what their needs are and what they think the placebo's going to do? Just as there are different mechanisms of placebo, there are probably different factors that play in all of them.
You know, if we feel that we are in danger or under threat, the brain raises its sensitivity to symptoms like pain.


If we see a lot of people around us who are getting sick, we're more likely to feel sick ourselves. And there's a good evolutionary reason for that because if people around us are getting sick, perhaps we've also eaten something that might make us sick and we need to be sensitive to that, whereas on the other hand, if we feel that we are safe and cared for and things are going to get better soon, we can kind of relax.
So this is the idea that - a physiologist called Ivan Pavlov conditions dogs so that whenever he gave them their food, he would make a noise, like ring a bell for example. And eventually, they came to associate the bell with their food, and they would salivate just to the sound of the bell. And we can all be conditioned to have different physiological responses to a stimulus like that.
So for example, if you take a pill that suppresses your immune system, then later on if you take a similar-looking placebo pill, even if there's no actual active drug in there, your body will mimic that same response. GROSS: So placebo effect is telling us, apparently, is that we have some power to heal ourselves of some things - that the brain has some remarkable healing powers.
You know, the body is taking in medication that the brain is being told is real medication. And so the brain is being tricked into secreting the right hormone or doing the right thing with the immune system. So you can - there are studies in various conditions - for example, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, hyperactivity disorder where patients have received placebos but they knew they were placebos and still got a benefit from that. And that's probably all down to things like, you know, just being in a trial, feeling that you're being helped, can have those effects on the brain. But beyond that, what I think we need to do is try and understand what are the sort of active ingredients of placebo responses, if you like. So whether that's expectation, which is then influenced by all different things such as your previous experiences with treatment, what you're told about a treatment, how sympathetic your physician is - there's all sorts of things that are feeding into how you'll respond to that treatment. I think we need to try and understand those things and think how can we incorporate those elements into medical care routinely rather than, for example, relying on fake pills. GROSS: So you're saying a good relationship with a doctor - instilling some kind of comfort and confidence in the patient - is helpful? I mean, there's a lot of research on social supports reducing stress and anxiety, for example, which in turn can reduce pain. And if that reduces the amount of painkillers that we need, for example, when we're undergoing surgery, that can in turn reduce complication rates. So the needles are placed in the wrong places and they don't fully penetrate the skin, but the people think it's real acupuncture. And in a group where that was given by a sort of polite but cold practitioner, 44 percent of them said they had adequate relief from the symptoms. But in a group where the practitioner was sort of extra empathic and friendly and supportive, 62 percent of them had adequate relief from their symptoms. So just that element of the care that you're getting from the practitioner, just their sort of change in attitude, had a big benefit for the people that were going through that treatment. That's nothing to do with the sort of physical effect of the treatment itself, just the way that that care is delivered. And that's the kind of research that I think could help us to deliver medical care in a more effective way for people.
GROSS: There are certain conditions that the placebo effect - or to put it in a different way, just like harnessing the mind's healing powers might be very effective, and other conditions where it's probably not going to be very helpful. MARCHANT: I think this is where it's really important that we have the scientific research rather than just sort of saying a blanket, oh, the mind can heal you, because it really does depend on what condition you're talking about. So placebo effects, and psychological approaches to treatment in general, are very effective for symptoms such as pain, depression, fatigue, nausea - so all those things that affect sort of how we feel.
But, you know, for a lot of people those are really serious conditions that blight their lives. And an awful lot of medicine and the drugs that are prescribed are aimed at, specifically, easing those symptoms - all the painkillers and the antidepressant that we take. If we can influence that through mind-body approaches, not necessarily to replace drugs, but in other cases perhaps to maximize the effectiveness of the drugs that we take so we can take lower doses.
So there's some really interesting research looking at using conditioning to reduce the drug doses that are required in kidney transplant patients, for example, or patients with autoimmune disease. If we then look at things where perhaps the mind isn't going to play a large role, physiological processes that we're not sort of consciously aware of often - so things like blood sugar levels or cholesterol levels in the blood.
You know, if you've got a serious infection, you probably wouldn't want to rely on a placebo. So when you're under stress, like, your heart beats faster, you're prepared to, like, run and flee. But when you're sitting at a desk and you have a deadline you have to meet, your body is often behaving as if you have to run from a beast, when what you're really doing is having to think and write or sort papers or do math. And then if you're under stress a lot, you're constantly in that state of your body telling you that it has to flee. MARCHANT: Well, from an evolutionary point-of-view, the fight-or-flight response is a great thing. If you're in a situation that requires an immediate emergency response, as the name says, you know, if you need to run as fast as you can, if you need to fight with an attacker, we need this response.
But the problem is that when we get into a situation where we're worrying about things all the time, that response is switched on long-term. So, for example, the raised blood pressure - that's useful in the moment if you need to respond to a physical threat. But if that's raised all the time, then that can damage arteries and that can contribute to heart disease, atherosclerosis, that kind of thing.
If sugar is released into the bloodstream, over time that can contribute to obesity and diabetes.
And one of the most damaging things that fight-or-flight does is it triggers a branch of the immune system called inflammation. So again, in a sort of emergency situation, that's quite a useful thing to have switched on. And what should happen is that it just gets switched off again after quite a short period of time. And then it can start kind of eating away at the body's tissues, if you like, because it's quite nonspecific. And so that can increase our risk of autoimmune disease, for example - anything from eczema and psoriasis to multiple sclerosis and it can also contribute to sort of chronic disease of aging - anything from atherosclerosis to dementia. GROSS: Autoimmune diseases are diseases in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue and the body turns against itself. So a lot of these conditions like arthritis or multiple sclerosis, it's - inflammation is what's driving that. What are researchers learning now about how we can control the mind's response so that the body isn't triggered to be in this persistent flight-or-fight response when we're under stress all the time but we don't need to be running or fighting?
What's the premise there in terms of how meditation might address the kind of stress - chronic stress - that we're talking about?
And the basic idea there is that you try to focus on the present moment rather than worrying about the past or about the future. And by focusing on the present moment, we become more aware of our thoughts, and just to see those as fleeting thoughts rather than getting carried away in ruminations about, oh, wish I hadn't said that the other day, or how am I going to prepare for this meeting tomorrow or, you know, even thoughts such as oh, you know, I'm no good at this, or, you know, I haven't got any friends, or, you know, negative thoughts like that and worrying about them.
And there's very good evidence that it reduces stress and anxiety and that it reduces symptoms such as chronic pain and fatigue. And that's in healthy people but also in people with depression or people with serious illness. So there is some evidence suggesting that mindfulness meditation can make us more resistant to infection. And that's everything from winter colds to slowing the progression of HIV, and that it gives people a better response, for example, to flu vaccine. But there's some interesting evidence, but the studies so far are quite small, so it would be great to see more research on that.
GROSS: So the premise, then, with the mind-body response to meditation is that you're basically training your body, you're training your brain, to stop reacting in stressful ways to various things in the world.
You're trying to teach the mind to stay in the moment and not panic, not worry, not obsess.
MARCHANT: Yeah, so one of the people that I interviewed on this topic was a guy here the UK.
He's a police officer, and he was diagnosed a few years ago with multiple sclerosis around the same time that his first son was born. And as you can imagine, that was a horrifically stressful thing for him to be diagnosed with this terrible progressive disease at the same time as he's just becoming a new father.
He'd never really heard of mindfulness meditation, but he read about it and tried it just to cope with the stress of his condition.
And the way he explained it to me was that when you have multiple sclerosis or a condition like that, a lot of the agony comes from worries about the past. You know, he was thinking, oh, I used to love walking in the hills and I'll never be able to do that again.
And worries about the future - he worried that he was going to go blind and then he wouldn't see his kids grow up. He worried that he was going to have to suffer unbearable pain - I mean, really terrible concerns that he had. And what mindfulness meditation did for him was to help him to not follow those chains of thought and focus on each moment as it came and even enjoy each moment as it came. You know, when he was playing with his kids, to just really enjoy that for what it was rather than letting it be ruined by all these thoughts about, oh I won't be a good father further down the line. Or, if he had a physical challenge, like trying to climb the stairs, rather than letting that become overwhelming and then thinking, oh, will I be able to do this next week or next month or next year, just taking those stairs one step at a time - just accepting each moment along the way. And he said that through doing that, he believes that his well-being now is better than it's ever been in his life, including before he was diagnosed. And for me, that was quite a powerful demonstration because if he can cope with those stresses using mindfulness meditation, I think it must be quite a powerful thing. GROSS: And there are also forms of biofeedback in which a person hooks themselves up to various gizmos that are measuring various body functions that are supposed to help you train yourself to be in a more calm state.
Would you explain the premise of biofeedback and some of the different mechanisms for practicing it?
MARCHANT: Yeah, so the idea with biofeedback is that you have some sort of display where you're hooked up to a monitor, and you can see your body's physical functions - whether it's your breathing rate or your heart rate or your skin temperature.
And so it's just meant as an aid to try and get yourself into to whichever physiological state you're trying to get into. And so if you're trying to relax, then being able to see your heart rate and your breathing rate can perhaps be an aid to doing that. Like, you have evidence, like, my blood vessels are dilated and my fingertips are warmer, so the meditation or the breathing or whatever I'm doing to try to get to a calmer state is working. I mean, if you've been chronically stressed for years, you might not know what it feels like to be relaxed. Whether that's more effective than, say, meditation or simply just sitting still and slowing down your breathing - because just slowing down your breathing, perhaps five seconds in, five seconds out, is a very effective, quick way of just calming the body down and reducing the stress response. And it's not really a coincidence that a lot of forms of meditation involve focusing on the breathing.
When we left off, we were talking about how biofeedback and meditation can reduce stress, thereby helping limit the damaging physiological effects of stress. Why is that kind of slow, measured breathing and various forms of - part of various forms of meditation - why does that work physiologically?


MARCHANT: Well, with the stress response, the brain and the body are influencing each other in both directions. So if we see a danger, then that's going to make us feel stressed and one of the follow-ons from that is that our breathing is going to speed up. If you were to speed up your breathing on your own, you'd probably start to feel a bit more kind of aroused and on edge.
And equally, if you calm the breathing down, you're kind of forcing your body into a more relaxed state.
When we're stressed, our brains almost come up with negative thoughts to try to explain why we're stressed, if you like. If you're kind of anxious or worried about something, all sorts of negative thoughts are going to pop into your head.
But if you can just calm that down, then that's going to have a beneficial effect on your mental state as well. If we're chronically stressed over a long period of time, then that changes what the brain looks like in scans. So there were certain areas of the brain - the amygdala, for example, which is involved in sort of fear and our kind of initial sort of emotional response to a threat. But in animals, you can actually see that where if you take a group of rats, say, and subject them to stress, you will see the amygdala grow over time. So it does seem to be a sort of cause-and-effect thing rather than just people with larger amygdalas get more stressed. And then there are other areas of the brain, such as the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, that are more to do with sort of rational thought and planning that get smaller over time. So there are studies showing that if a group of people meditates, the amygdala then becomes a smaller and the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex become larger. And that's probably not anything specific to meditation, but it's just that reducing stress and changing patterns of thinking over a period of time then is reflected in the structure of the brain. If you play violin for eight hours a day, then the parts of the brain responsible for helping you to play the violin get larger. If you were thinking stressful thoughts for the whole day, then those parts of the brain are going to get larger and other parts of the brain will deteriorate. It's kind of an irony because then the very brain circuits that we would need to try and counter that are no longer working as well as they should.
So that's why something like meditation can be helpful because just simply saying oh, I'm going to change how I think now, I'm not going to be as stressed now doesn't really work. You know, you're going to have to exercise regularly over a long period of time to see that change in your body. But if you really want to change the way that you think, you need to put in the hours, basically.
GROSS: I think one of the real hopeful aspects of mind-body therapies have to do with dealing with chronic pain. And not just because many of them are addictive, but also because people often don't like how they feel with the painkiller. You know, around 16,000 people die in America every year through overdoses of prescription painkillers. And there are several lines of research that are telling us that there are so many other factors that feed into pain. It's not just the kind of chemical pharmacological issue if you like that can be dealt with with drugs.
There are - as well as sort of the physical side of pain, there are psychological factors that feed in - social factors, cultural factors even.
So, for example, if you look at placebo research, that's showing us that placebo responses are very strong in pain. If someone does feels cared for in a trial and feels that they're doing something that is going to make them feel better that is incredibly good at relieving pain.
And placebo responses are so strong now in pain that the drug companies are actually finding it very difficult to beat those effects with new painkillers.
So, for example, there's a line of research using virtual reality to deal with pain in serious burns patients. And burn patients can be inside the snow world as they're having their wounds treated and, you know, the dressings changed and things, which can be incredibly painful. And trials show that that reduces their pain by 15 to 40 percent on top of what they're getting with drugs because often the pain is such in these patients that even though they're on the maximum safe amount of drugs, they're still in terrible pain. GROSS: Now, let me stop you right there 'cause that's a very interesting thing that distraction from the pain helps ease the pain.
Luckily, the day I went, the electric shock equipment wasn't workings, so I didn't get the electric shocks. But this is something that felt like a very intense burning pain on my foot when I just experienced it on its own.
And then you put on the goggles and the noise-canceling headphones and you're in this ice canyon floating through it.
It was - I could kind of tell it was there, but I just wasn't really interested in attending to it is the only way I can describe it. And if you've got something that's really commanding your attention, there's less attention left over for experiencing the pain. So just playing a normal videogame would probably help a bit, but it's not as good as this immersive experience. GROSS: You know, what you're describing, this immersive virtual reality being such a potent distraction from pain, and in that sense it minimizes the pain, it reminds me of things that a lot of people have experienced, perhaps not to that extent.
Actors always talk about, you know, when they do the whole show must go on thing that when they're on stage they're not feeling the pain. So can you apply what you learned from virtual reality as a distraction from pain into the real world?
I think a lot of people with chronic pain get caught in this cycle where because you're in pain, you don't go out and do things and enjoy activities because you're worried about the pain.
And then you've got nothing else to do really but then worry about the pain, which in turn makes it worse because you're focusing on it. And this is something that's coming through from placebo research as well, researchers doing brain scans on people who are experiencing placebo responses to painkillers. And you do see very similar changes in the brain to what you'd see if someone was taking a painkiller. So you see changes in the prefrontal cortex, parts of the brain that were involved in decision-making and sort of attitudes.
And their conclusion is that just feeling that you're doing something about the pain and having a placebo actually makes people less afraid of the pain and more willing to go out and do things and live life and enjoy it. And that's not - you know, that's not something that you get directly from the painkillers. And if we can understand the power of that - because then you can get that cycle, then you can get out and start doing more and have other things to distract you. So if we can understand the power of that - again, that gives us a whole other approach to improving people's lives when they're in pain. She's the author of the new book "Cure: A Journey Into The Science Of Mind Over Body." Are there ways that you have been applying what you've learned about the mind-body connection and how we can use our minds to help feel less pain or to help heal, things that you've been applying in your own life? So obviously, I still want to be aware of any problems that might indicate serious illness that - where I need to get that checked out. But, you know, if I have a headache or a tummy bug or I, you know, feel like I've got flu and I'm fatigued, it kind of makes me perhaps not get as anxious and worried about that. Instead of thinking oh no, I've got a headache, there's nothing I can do about it, this is going to take up my day, I feel as though I have a certain amount of control over how that affects me, so I can kind of imagine those endorphins flooding into my brain.
I don't take placebo pills, but I might go for a run or distract myself or do something else, and just imagine that sort of improvement that I want to see.
And, you know, it's - that's not a miracle cure, but I feel like that enables me to continue with the life - my life and have some control over those symptoms.
I'm very aware of how they can pick up on suggestions from me, positive and negative, about how they might be feeling.
Just asking questions, I'm aware of how that actually sort of might plant the suggestion of that with them. Or if I'm, you know, giving them medicine or putting cream on, or even just giving them a hug or kissing something better, I really try and make a big fuss of that and tell them how that's going to make them feel better.
And, you know, even if I'm just - if my son's grazed his knee and I'm kissing that better, I kind of see that as actually having a real therapeutic effect for him. You are kissing him better because if he feels comforted and cared for and that it's OK, that it's being dealt with, there are going to be those endorphins released into his brain, and he is going to feel less pain. And then in terms of stress as well, researching this book has really made me see that stress isn't just something that affects us mentally, but it's having feed-through effects into our physical health as well. So I'm trying really hard to stay on top of that, and I feel like the research has kind of given me some of the tools to do that in terms of focusing on the people around me. I know that I can choose to focus on sort of positive things in my life rather than getting caught up in sort of negative worries and ruminations, and in terms of the importance of trying to find time for things that I enjoy and find meaningful as well. Maybe that appeals to some people, but it's not something that - you know, I've tried it in the past, but it's not something I do regularly.
But in terms of trying to be mindful and just find times throughout the day, whether it's when I'm going for a run or doing housework, or even if I'm just playing with my children, just making sure that I'm in the moment and focusing entirely on them and not, in the back of my mind, running through what am I going to do later? And, you know, in terms of individual experience, I can't say what that's done for my health, but it's certainly made me happier.
In the United States, there's - you know, we now have Obamacare, there's private health insurance and there's, you know, insurance a lot of people get if they're full-time employees from their employer, which they usually have to pay a lot for in addition. But the way medical care is going in the United States right now, I think a lot of doctors are feeling pressure to spend less time with patients and to see more patients. And that is counter to the kind of care you talk about in the book, where comforting words, positive feedback, encouragement can lead to a more calm, positive attitude that can promote healing, at least in many conditions. And so I'm wondering, like, in England, is that kind of issue - is there that kind of issue, too, that doctors don't necessarily have the time to provide that kind of reassurance and comforting care to patients? But I think the average - if you're going to see your primary care physician, the average appointment time in the U.S.
So there's not a great deal you can do in 10 minutes apart from write a prescription, and there is - I do think that there's - that might likely be counterproductive. There is a study in acid reflux disease, for example - it's just a small study, there isn't that much research on this so far, but it was comparing appointment times. So patients who got 18-minute apartments versus 44-minute appointments, and showing that the ones with the longer appointments, that their symptoms were relieved dramatically more those with the short-term appointments, even though they were all receiving either a placebo or a homeopathic medication. We need to be applying this evidence-based approach not just to drugs and whether they work, but to all the other elements of care. So appointment times and attitude of doctors, the words that doctors use when they are telling us about the treatments.
I mean, all of these things matter to our care, and we should be taking those just as seriously as we do the drugs and their effects.



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Comments to «Power of mind over matter 2014»

  1. Azer86 writes:
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