New study questions mind-body connection

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How much can you will yourself to be well? A new study done at the University of Wisconsin suggests that some head colds may be just in your head.

Researchers gave those with the common cold either: Nothing; a sugar pill; or Echinacea, a popular natural medicine supposed to boost immunity. The people given nothing had colds of a more severe and longer duration than those given either the sugar pill or Echinacea.

But when you looked at those given the sugar pill vs. Echinacea, the cold’s duration and severity was identical. The psychology behind taking a remedy — even if that remedy was just a mere placebo — made the head cold less severe and not as long.

There’s long been this question about how much is mental and how much is physical? Stress matters, diet matters and attitude matters. But sometimes, no matter what attitude you have, you’ll get sick or worse.

I recall three or four years ago when I was first told I likely had cancer. At the time, a doctor said to me, “Don’t worry about it. With your positive attitude, you’ll be fine no matter what level of cancer you have.” I was stunned by his statement at the time. But sure enough, I had early stage prostate cancer that has proven very manageable for me.

We’ve all heard about the medicinal thing of chicken soup being penicillin for the cold. Who knows why that works, but it seems to. In life, so often your mental attitude has so much to do with how you come out of a medical situation.



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