Can your body really heal itself? And if, so is there proof to understand that your body is a self-healing organism? The body holds within itself an innate self-repair mechanism and the key to unlocking it lies within the brain-body connection.

The idea that your brain can convince your body that a fake treatment is a real thing — the so-called ‘placebo effect’ and stimulate healing has been around for decades now. In this article, understand how to activate your body’s self-healing process.

The Placebo Effect vs. The Nocebo Effect

The placebo effect is a common phenomenon that you have probably heard of a lot. That’s what occurs when patients think they are getting a fancy pill, but what they actually get is just a sugar pill. Then, as their mind starts to conquer, they magically recover from their ailment as though they had been taking the real deal.

While there are numerous studies that have proven the placebo effect, there is also a dark side to it called the ‘nocebo effect’. In this case, just the opposite happens. The patient is given a sugar pill and told it’s a drug that has terrible side effects. Then, they start to manifest those symptoms.

The nocebo effect can also occur when a physician tells you surgery or procedure could have negative results and just being aware of those risks could negatively impact your recovery.

Such is the power of imagination, that just by thinking of something is good enough to activate those portions of the brain with that thought, worry or pain. So what we need to recover from an ailment today is often a positive reinforcement to accelerate the healing process.

Of course, doctors have to be upfront of the risks involved, but they also need to act as the forces of healing, not just be mere forces of fear or pessimism.

Activate Your Body’s Self-Healing Process 

People with a positive outlook are more likely to be healthier and live longer than people who don’t. So, how does this happen?


The brain communicates with all the cells in the body through hormones and neurotransmitters. So, for instance, if you have a negative thought, your brain triggers this as a threat. Subsequently, it signals the release of stress hormones like cortisol, norepinephrine, epinephrine.

The body’s stress response system turns on and stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. It puts you in a fight or flight mode which is adaptive according to the stress you face. In everyday life, whenever you face a threat, you are supposed to have that quick stress response and then it’s supposed to switch off.

When the stress response turns off, the parasympathetic nervous system turns on. This is where healing hormones like oxytocin, dopamine, nitric oxide, endorphins are triggered in the body.

Therefore, when you are constantly stressed, all these naturally-induced self-repair hormones are not available. The body is too busy to fight or flee in order to heal itself. The body releases the healing hormones only in a relaxed state.

How to Turn on the Body’s Self-Healing Mechanism?

As opposed to the stress response, the relaxation response is what is needed for the body to stimulate healing. A combination of the mind’s positive belief along with the nurturing care of a healthcare provider is what triggers the relaxation response and calms down the nervous system. As a result, the body’s self-repairing mechanisms come into play.

Fortunately, there are simple and proven ways to turn on the relaxation response of the body. Here’s how you can support your body to heal naturally:

1. Believe that you can Heal your Body

As long as you believe that your condition is incurable or chronic, it will be. Believe that healing is possible and you will be able to reverse the condition. What you think, feel and believe directly influences your natural self-repair mechanisms.

There have been several proven instances where patients were administered sugar pills, saline injections or make-shift surgeries and made to believe that they were fine. In the end, they were fine and healed from their condition successfully.

2. Find the Right Support

You also need nurturing care of a true healer who can support you through this whole process, respect your intuition and care for your wellbeing. In order to truly revive, you need holistic care that surpasses the reductionist view of conventional medicine.

3. Listen to Your Body

While doctors know all the inner workings of your body, only you know what’s best for your body. So, listen to your body and understand what it really needs. Whether you have pain, tightness, nausea, clenching, dizziness, your body will always send you signs to let you know the onset of trouble.

4. Diagnose the Root Cause of your Disease

Your doctor might have given you a diagnosis – migraines, diabetes or cancer. But what is it that triggered the stress response of your body and deactivated your body’s self-healing power in the first place? Identify the root cause and then introduce relaxation response stimulating activities. Meditation, creative expression, laughter, Yoga, massage, engaging in a hobby or work you like will help your nervous system to relax.

5. Your Prescription

Apart from the typical prescription that includes elements of medicine, come up with your own self-guided action plan on what you can do for your body to make it ready for the healing process. Your diet, exercise regimen and other subtle activities like your social life, the spiritual practice also play a huge role in healing.

Gift Yourself a Placebo

Placebos often work because people are not aware that they are getting it. But what happens when you know that you are getting a placebo?

A 2014 study by Dr. Kaptchuk explored this by testing how people responded to migraine pain medication. One group took a migraine drug labeled with the drug’s name, another took a placebo labeled “placebo,” and a third group took nothing. The researchers discovered that the placebo was 50% as effective as the real drug to reduce pain after a migraine attack.

The researchers speculated that a driving force beyond this reaction was the simple act of taking a pill. Even if the patients were aware that they were not taking a medicine, the action itself was good enough to stimulate the brain into thinking the body is healed.

Similarly, you don’t have to take a fake pill, engaging in self-help methods is the best way to give yourself a placebo. Engage in the ritual of a healthy lifestyle to provide some key ingredients of a placebo effect to activate your body’s self-healing process. 


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