Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Cure by Jo Marchant

book cover
by Jo Marchant

ISBN-13: 9780385348157
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Released: Jan. 19, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Drawing on the very latest research, award-winning science writer Jo Marchant explores the vast potential of the mind's ability to heal, lays out its limitations, and explains how we can make use of the findings in our own lives.

While we accept that stress or anxiety can damage our health, the idea of "healing thoughts" was long ago hijacked by New Age gurus and spiritual healers. Recently, however, serious scientists from a range of fields have been uncovering evidence that our thoughts, emotions and beliefs can ease pain, heal wounds, fend off infection and heart disease and even slow the progression of AIDS and some cancers.

In Cure, Marchant travels the world to meet the physicians, patients and researchers on the cutting edge of this new world of medicine. We learn how meditation protects against depression and dementia, how social connections increase life expectancy and how patients who feel cared for recover from surgery faster. We meet Iraq war veterans who are using a virtual arctic world to treat their burns and children whose ADHD is kept under control with half the normal dose of medication.

My Review:
Cure is a look at the latest scientific research on how the mind can help (or hinder) our body's ability to heal. The author is a scientist and generally skeptical about alternative medicine, but she keeps an open mind. She clearly explained the studies and how this information could be used to help people. She kept my interest and was easy to follow from start to finish. I intend to read this book again, and I highly recommend it.

I've long wondered: if the placebo effect helps people and has no side effects, why haven't we used that rather than dismissed it? That's the first topic the author tackled: research into using the placebo effect. It turns out a placebo can work even if you know it's a placebo! The research explains how the placebo effect works and what things it can help with (like pain). There's also research into combining placebos with drugs to create a Pavlov effect which can reduce the amount of drugs that the person needs.

She also looked into fatigue (how the mind controls when you feel fatigue), hypnosis, virtual reality (to decrease pain), biofeedback, religion, meditation, how the words and behavior of the caregiver matter, and how strong social bonds support health. She briefly talked about research into telomere length and epigentics. Her conclusion is that the mind can play a positive role in health and that proven techniques should be used along with drugs, etc. But it's hard for techniques that decrease drug use to get funding for further studies or become accepted by doctors.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

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