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The Power of the Placebo Effect

By November 18, 2009 October 20th, 2011 No Comments

The placebo effect, the effect of taking a pill or drug that the patient thinks is real but actually contains nothing more than sugar has been proven to be effective in treating many conditions. This shows that the power of the mind is indeed strong enough to influence and improve  mental feelings of well-being. A new study though has now shown that this placebo effect is not just in the mind. German researchers found that pills containing no medicine influenced the physiological processes of the body much in the same way that real drugs do. The researchers ran MRI scans on the spinal cords of 15 healthy patients while painful laser pinpricks were applied t their hands. They then repeated the exercise after a cream had been rubbed into their skin. The volunteers were then told that the cream contained an anaesthetic, even though it was just an ordinary hand cream. The second group of scans showed significantly less activity in a key part of the spinal cord known as the dorsal horn, which transmits pain signals to the brain. This shows that the placebo influenced pain at the earliest stage of the central nervous system, in a similar way to drugs like morphine.

So the power of the mind can not only make you think that you feel better but that you actually do feel less pain. Often with personal training clients we need to remove the barrier of the mind to allow the body to work to it’s full potential. If a client is with one of or personal trainers and feels that a run, for example is to hard, we sometimes get them to imagine that they are being chased by a hungry lion the Serengeti. It’s amazing what a difference this power of the mind can make to the actual performance of the body. When inagining that the lion is about to eat them the clients inevitable speed up and can maintain this speed for longer.

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