Jo Marchant is an accomplished science journalist and the author of the new book, Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind Over Body. This book examines the role that the mind plays in healing the body.
One example of how the mind impacts healing within the body is displayed through the placebo effect. Jo explains that many people do get better simply by taking a placebo. Decades of research has shown that taking any medicine, including a placebo, triggers specific changes in the brain that eases our symptoms.
Many trials have shown that placebos even work when the patient knows the medication is a placebo. This may be because the brain gets the signal that the body is being cared for, and therefore backs off on its own symptom signals.
Similarly, the brain decides what level of the symptom we need to see based on the severity of the injury or issue. This is similar with fatigue. The sensation created is a psychological one of exhaustion and fatigue, so that we don’t push ourselves to a risk of death. This role that the brain plays shows that we have some control through our beliefs, hopes, attitudes, for example. Exercises such as HIIT can actually help improve our performance and break down this fatigue state, as the brain learns to let the body go a bit further each time based on previous experience.
Jo also speaks about the role of the vagus nerve within the parasympathetic nervous system in altering one’s heart rate. By slowing one’s breathing, the vagus nerve is triggered to keep the body and mind calm. This helps the body to better respond to stress.
Cure is a great primer to understanding how powerful mind can be for your body. To connect with Jo Marchant or to learn more about Cure, visit www.jomarchant.com.