Placebo, Nocebo; Gaming the Autonomic Nervous System

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What if we could invoke healing via the Placebo Effect?

Deconstructing the Placebo Effect

Maybe the mystery of "miracle" healing is not so mysterious after all. When we look at substances, one never knows whether a powerful belief in a substance or the substance itself is responsible for a result. So endless double-blind studies are conducted to eliminate the joker..the placebo effect. But when we look deeper into the sympathetic/parasympathetic influences of the autonomic nervous system, we may find the "joker is wild" and learn to employ it for a winning hand.

What we do know is that health depends on nutrition, toxicity, lifestyle habits and emotional states where emotional states are the hardest to nail down. We also know that pain, stress, fear, shame, embarrassment, depression and grief can source a negative nocebo effect making healing impossible. We have also found that emotional states can depend on the health of the physical body. What we haven't completely understood is how to elicit a really real placebo effect and I would argue that parasympathetic activation is the key.

The "Automatic" Nervous System

The sympathetic side of our "automatic" regulatory system is involved in the fight/flight response marked by elevated adrenaline, cortisol, blood pressure, inflammation and organ-damaging oxidative stress. The parasympathetic chain, on the other hand, puts cells and organs in rest/recovery mode, improves DNA expression along with hormone/enzyme production and even protects telomeres. Of the cranial nerves, the vagus (wanderer) seems most influential as it winds its way through heart, lungs, upper GI and the other abdominal organs. Since the balance of oppositional and complementary autonomic functions is generally thought to be beyond conscious control, we tend to ignore it.

Spontaneous remission of incurable diseases happen all the time. Wouldn't it be sweet to access hardwired neural control centers and add it to a comprehensive protocol? Once nutrition is optimized and mineral levels restored, toxins/metals removed from receptors and membranes, and lifestyle elements tweeked...think sympathetic reduction/parasympathetic activation; extreme relaxation, like a nap in a hammock on a pristine tropical beach.

There are so many ways. A lengthy short list;

  • Breathe... Start with the many breathing techniques. Try 5 deep even breaths, then hold the 5th for over a minute; much like snorkeling for crab and lobster. Slow diaphragmatic breathing optimizes oxygen penetration, metabolism and pH modulation and has been shown to reduce markers of sympathetic dominance (markers of inflammation). Or look into countless styles of yogic, Buteyko or Qi Gong breathing....A counterintuitive method (lie down on your back, you won't pass out) involves rapid deep in-out breathing. 15 minutes of "Fire Breath" hyperventilation super alkalizes the system by blowing off CO2, before returning to normal slow deep breathing. Results will amaze
  • Cold Water... Splash cold water on the face or try sauna followed by cold immersion, hot/cold showers or eyebright/cayenne eye-drops to boost circulation and refresh autonomic balance. A number of cranial nerves serve the eyes and face. Also think scalp massage.
  • Music... From Pharrel's "Happiness" to classical Bach, there's a healing tune for every taste packed with parasympathetic power. My preference many times are birdsongs, crickets and a breeze through the trees. We know that "noise" raises blood pressure and causes a sympathetic response.
  • Aromas/Colors... The use of lavender, rosemary and other essential oils is thought to entrain the body's energy field to their high vibratory frequencies. We know the scent of a wild rose or lilac brings on a smile and warm feelings; a bit of relaxing nostalgia when we slow down and take the time. A scentless patch of brightly colored zinnias has a similar effect; aromatherapy/color therapy obviously drop blood pressure, bring on a wave of relaxation and halt time stress.
  • Fasting/Intermittent Fasting/TV Fasting... Fasting reduces bio-energy consumption, improves metabolism, lowers all markers of inflammation and raises mental acuity. Television is a wonderful thing. Unfortunately it has been commandeered for the nefarious purposes of marketing, political propaganda and mind control. To reduce stress, many physicians advise a "TV news fast." Not only is all mainstream media information edited, selectively focused and spun into a web of deception, the entire experience has created an artificial narrative; a journalistic dictatorship, if you will, run purely for the benefit of the industrial complex. One is repetitively bombarded with disturbing audio and flashing high-speed cuts rife with fear/envy/greed messages as he is presented with a narrative that contradicts reality causing what could be called "media induced schizophrenia." Best bet; be aware of the process or avoid it altogether.
  • Lifestyle...  Exercise/activity, sunbathing, cooking, dining, recreating in nature, fishing, etc... A refined repertoire of positive habits and life skills raise health to higher realms.
  • Human Touch, massage, chiropractic, acupuncture... A loving human touch synergizes bioenergy fields, making both stronger. Chiropractic can manipulate a subluxed Atlas to restore voltage/nerve flow in cranial nerves just as acupuncture restores power to one's grid of electric meridians. Life is electrical and flowing electrons generate magnetic fields.
  • Community and supportive social interaction... Many studies correlate loneliness with heart disease and cancer. Humans are social beings. Peer-shaming once meant an individual faced expulsion from the tribe and certain death; surefire sympathetic activation. Conversely, copacetic relationships implied belonging, food, survival and parasympathetic strengthening. PTSD may have an autonomic component. Many veterans feel a severe sense of loss after being separated from their band of brothers and wish they were back in the army. Support groups emphasize group recreation in nature; a win/win for parasympathetic activation.
  • Sense of Purpose... One can chart a course through life and take the helm...or simply drift like seaweed on the tide. Feeling "out of control" is a chief source of anxiety. My purpose is to share hard won practical knowledge in order to prevent and alleviate needless human suffering and further damage to our environment. I want to educate the public and thinking physicians. I want to live in a better healthier world unlike the world today that seems bent on self destruction. Yours?
  • Prayer/meditation/laughter... Whether or not one believes in divine intervention, an extreme parasympathetic shift is involved when the mind is calmed and cleared of fear. Healing hormones are released as inflammation gives way to enhanced genetic expression and immune strength. Undeniable anecdotal evidence of spontaneous remissions have accumulated for over two thousand years. Reversals of late stage cancers through comedy alone should show; "there's more here than meets the eye."
  • Substances... Everything from ginseng, green tea, turmeric, chamomile, kava, Vitamins B and C to alcohol, opiates, nicotine and cannabis hold claims to stress/pain reduction that allow parasympathetic domination. Stress and pain definitely light up sympathetic pathways making healing difficult or impossible. With economic distress at an all time high, many are caught in a cycle of anti-depressant/anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals. Others are lost in addictions to electronic games and phones, gambling, pornography-masturbation or ride a self-medicating merry-go-round of alcohol and opiates with dire consequences. Recently, in the ongoing debate over medical marijuana, one physician observed that the healing properties of cannabinoids and THC in particular heal by reducing pain and by replacing stress and anxiety with euphoria thereby promoting parasympathetic activation. Since polyphenols like curcumin and resveratrol also attach to endocannabinoid receptors and promote neuro-healing and regeneration, a fresh perspective beckons.
  • Unconditional Love... This state of consciousness, beyond the reach of the fearful selfish ego flows from the higher spiritual mind..detached from all earthly cares and woes. It resides not in the past or future or preoccupation with death, but in an ever present present. It lacks energy robbing tension and so provides limitless power through its relaxed softness. The journey of all souls is a journey toward happiness and enlightenment...toward becoming light. One can monitor his ego by observing his daily reactions to life. Are they selfish, forceful and insensitive or kind, sharing and altruistic? This is mindfulness and leads to blissful thoughtless being and fulfillment. "Be as a little child."

Instead of trying to rule out the placebo effect as drug studies always do, the idea should be to embrace it as a powerful pathway to healing that has always existed, albeit cloaked in the gray area of consciousness. When dietary correction, supplements and detoxification are slow to produce results, particularly in worried frightened individuals; shift the autonomic balance toward the parasympathetic. Start with a joke and continue down the list until big healthy smiles shine all around.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

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