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Emotions and Heart Health

Placebo Effect

One of the more interesting phenomena that can occur in the human body is "the placebo effect" – an improvement in a physical condition without the administration of the correct medicine. Instead, patients receive something like a sugar pill, or a saline solution IV (intra-venous), but believe they are getting the proper medicine. Simply by believing this, their conditions improve.

The February 25, 2009, issue of Scientific American details the 1957 case of "Mr. Wright." Dying from lymph node cancer, Mr. Wright was extremely optimistic about the effect that the new medicine Krebiozen (an anti-cancer drug) would have on his tumors. Three days after his first injection, his tumors had shrunk by 50%, and he was sent home ten days after that. He was the only patient who received Krebiozen in the entire hospital that had any improvement at all.

Other studies since then have shown the placebo effect to be true in most areas of medicine. Such conditions as Parkinson´s disease, depression, pain and anxiety have also improved with the administration of placebos, depending on the patient. The biological explanation has to do with conscious and subconscious beliefs in a medicine´s effectiveness, general optimism about the possibility of a cure, and such experiences as the touch of a stethoscope. Responses from the immune system and hormonal glands occur as a result of these processes, and the body begins to cure itself.

Mind and Body Connection

With such a strong connection between mind and body, then, it is no wonder that everyday emotional trends can have significant effects on overall health – and on the heart. Any major change can bring about significant emotional responses, such as moving your residence, getting a new job, losing a job, having a relationship end (or begin), a debilitating illness, or sudden money problems.

These events can affect the body in a number of ways. High blood pressure is one, as your body naturally releases adrenaline to deal with stress, and since the stress isn´t going away, the adrenaline keeps pumping and blood pressure rises. Other physical effects that can affect the heart include chest pains, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and insomnia.

One reason why emotions take such a physical toll on the body has to do with our general reticence as a culture. We like hearing about other people´s problems, but we don´t like sharing our own. Finding someone to talk with about your negative emotional experiences, such as a family member, friend, or even a therapist, can help the emotions leave your body in a healthy way.

Life Balance

Finding a balance in life can help prevent one area from dominating your entire concentration. Your job is important; your child´s experiences in third grade are important; your husband or wife is important. However, if you spend too much time worrying about one area, other areas will suffer, and the stress will multiply. It´s crucial to find healthy ways to balance all of these areas.

Journaling can help get feelings out on paper where others will not be offended by them, and exercise can give you a time to process these feelings in your mind, "wrestling" with them while you´re doing bench presses or running two miles around your neighborhood.

Change (unwanted or wanted) comes to us all, and the ways in which we respond to that change can have dramatic effects on our entire bodies, not just our hearts.

Copyright © 2010 by Jack Osborne - All Rights Reserved


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