“Dis-ease of the mind leads to disease of the body.”
I remember the first time I heard that. It resonated as truth and supported a theory I had long held. Stress and fear can decrease our body’s ability to ward off disease. Because we are complex creatures, our bodies and minds are intrinsically connected. As a result, relaxation of the mind can equate to a healthier body.
Whereas western cultures have implemented body, mind and soul therapies for thousands of years, eastern cultures have taken a bit more time to do so. Now we have clinical studies and credentialed universities supporting integrative medicine. By combining traditional medicine with other forms of therapies (i.e. acupuncture, massage or meditation), our medical industry can treat the entire individual instead of just the symptoms. Both John Hopkins and Harvard University have aligned their practices and studies with integrative medicine.
Dr. Herbert Benson, Harvard
Dr. Herbert Benson, a renowned cardiologist began research at Harvard regarding mind-body connection. At the time it was still considered “hoopla” by much of the medical industry. Because he was a successful cardiologist he was able to make some listen, when the masses were not likely to do so. His study became known as the “relaxation response”.
What Dr. Benson found was that individuals who took the time to de-stress or slow down their minds had positive reactions physically. Whether that be better sleep or a reduced heart rate. This was approximately 40 years ago. Today, his initial findings have yielded an entire cultural shift.
Up until this point, preventative therapies had taken a backseat in healthcare. But at this point, the medical community began to take notice. If we can implement good habits that increase our overall quality of life, then perhaps we can avoid more or at least some, chronic illness.
Dr. Linda Lee, John Hopkins
Chronic illness itself can create stress and anxiety. According to Dr. Linda Lee of John Hopkins Integrative Medicine Center, 85% of adults 65 and older have one chronic disease. (Enter stress!) A whopping 62% of seniors over 65 have 2 chronic illnesses. Furthermore, stress can increase pain resulting form chronic illness. (Reference at 20 minute point in video.)
Once you reach this point, how do you roll back the stress? There may be some truth in “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, but not entirely. Most importantly, you aren’t a dog. Integrating acupuncture, massage, tai chi or meditation into your life is easier than you might think. Anything that keeps your mind calm will increase your overall well-being.
Dr. Benson concluded, Relaxation Response is an effective therapy for stress related disorders including but not limited to: anxiety, moderate depression, anger issues, insomnia, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis and even IBS. Thus, relaxation of the mind, in whatever form you choose does aid in your overall well-being.
Now, if we can educate the public on how to avoid life threatening scenarios by developing ‘quality of life’ habits, we could possibly decrease the impact of chronic illness across the board. One thing will forever remain true, knowledge is power. As we continue to learn more about integrative medicine and therapies, we broaden our options for healing and optimal health. And that my friends is the point.