Mind-Body Medicine

Definition - What does Mind-Body Medicine mean?

Mind-Body medicine is a holistic approach, focused on the interactions between the mind and the body with regards to healing. It highlights the effects of emotional, mental, social and spiritual factors on overall health, with emphasis on self-knowledge and self-care as means of both preventing and treating illness. From the perspective of Mind-Body medicine, disease and illness can be viewed as an opportunity for personal growth and transformation.

Yogapedia explains Mind-Body Medicine

Although a relatively new concept in the West, Mind-Body medicine is, in fact, thousands of years old. In the approaches of traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, the mind has always been integral in the treatment of physical illness.

The concept became more widely accepted in modern medical communities with the introduction of Walter Canon's 'fight or flight' response in the 1920's, Henry Beecher's 'placebo effect' during World War Two and Herbert Benson's 'relaxation response' in 1975.

Since then, extensive research has begun to explore the many connections between mind, body and health. For example, the mind has been proven to be a major component in the healing process of the following conditions:

  • High blood pressure
  • Asthma
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Diabetes
  • Stomach and intestinal problems
  • Menopausal and PMS symptoms

Mind-Body medicine uses a variety of techniques to enhance the mind's capacity to lessen physical symptoms. Guided relaxation, hypnosis, visual imagery, meditation, yoga, biofeedback, tai chi, qi gong, cognitive-behavioral therapies, group support and autogenic training are all examples of treatments prescribed by the Mind-Body field.

Generally, such techniques are proposed in tandem with other conventional healthcare approaches like pharmaceuticals or surgery. However, Mind-Body medicine tends to focus on empowering people to take responsibility for their own health, giving agency to the patient rather than the doctor.

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