Last Updated: April 8th, 2019
Anyone can have a healthy lifestyle once they take good care of their body and mind. As the renewed Latin saying goes “Mens sana in corpore sano”—a sound mind in a sound body—excellent physical performance cannot happen without excellent mental performance and vice versa. So it’s no wonder there have been mind-body therapies in every culture since ancient times. Science has caught on in recent years and has been publishing noteworthy medical results that reveal the real impact of these methods on your health.
For far too long, acupuncture was a holistic territory of mystery owned entirely by Traditional Chinese Medicine. In recent years science has taken an interest in this mind-body therapy, and the result of its investigation speaks volumes about its effectiveness.
Oriental medicine explains the beneficial results of acupuncture as “a needle’s effect on the balance of Yin and Yang within us.” Illness can find its way to us when there’s a blockage that disturbs this balance. Acupuncture can make our inner energy flow freely again through 350 points in our body. The moment the needles penetrate the skin, they release certain blockages and restore the balance within.
It’s interesting to see that the pre-medical culture was actually extremely intuitive. Scientists have demonstrated that all 350 acupuncture points are places where cognitive tissues, muscles and nerves converge. By activating these locations, the blood flow increases and at the same time, it releases endorphins to make up for the pain we might otherwise experience.
While acupuncture treatment doesn’t cure any disease, it’s nonetheless a safe procedure that helps eliminate the discomfort of some conditions. There have been many successful clinical trials on a large scale finding it safe and efficient. This includes alleviating conditions such as lower back pain, migraines, fibromyalgia, post-operative dental pain, osteoarthritis, and nausea or vomiting induced by chemotherapy. Acupuncture therapy can also be of great help for women who usually experience painful periods.
Water is one of the four primordial substances that construct the world as we know it. For millennia, this compound has been extolled for its healing powers, and medical results are actually backing up this cultural belief.
The secret of its efficacy lies in its mechanical and thermal effects. Saunas, hot and cold body wraps, physical therapy in water, and whirlpools are all different methods of hydrotherapy. Each of them uses water in a different state—liquid, solid, or steam—to activate the mind-body connection. Our body responds to the temperature, pressure and stimuli of water. The nerves carry those external stimulants to the mind which calls for a release of surplus stress hormones.
This way, the circulation and digestion perform at a greater pace, and the sensitivity to pain is reduced. Hydrotherapies that use heat aim to calm and relax the body while slowing down the blood flow. They work best when muscles are tense. On the other hand, when the body gets exposed to cold temperatures, internal organs experience stimulation and a refreshing boost of energy. A shower in which the water temperature goes through extreme variations is enough to stimulate the mind-body connection.
When you immerse yourself in water, you’ll feel an overall relief as the water takes away the effects of gravity. It also acts as a massage session since the moving liquid activates touch receptors on the surface of the skin. Thus, blood circulation increases and muscles are no longer tense.
Due to its relaxing effects, hydrotherapy shows significant health improvements in conditions such as acne, arthritis, stress, sleep disorders, headaches, muscle pains and stomach problems. It can also aid with overcoming depression. The optimal duration of a session can be 15 minutes, but it’s safe to extend it to as long as 45 minutes.
Another type of mind-body therapy that’s useful for your health is meditation. The most popular form, which is also backed up by science, is mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness meditation is the act of increasing your aware and non-judgmental state of mind through practice and exercise. Your cognitive senses experience a drastic improvement when you’re constantly aware of your present situation. You can practice mindfulness meditation wherever you are and whenever you want. You don’t need a secluded place void of sound to meditate. All you have to do is intensely observe what’s happening around you at all times. These observations should exclude the damaging presence of judgments, the sole purpose of which is to confuse you and alter your perception of reality. You should only be aware of how you act, how you use your hands and other body parts, how you interact with objects and people.
The benefits of mindfulness meditation are numerous. Together with improved attention, body posture, decision-making and problem-solving skills, it’s also a natural painkiller.
Researchers were interested to discover the nature of this kind of painkiller so they studied the difference between the placebo effect and mindfulness. What they found is simply amazing and enforces the strength of a mind-body connection. But let’s first understand the placebo effect. When the mind is deceived into thinking that the body received the right treatment for its disease, it will expect a positive response and so releases endogenous opiates into the system. These compounds act as natural analgesics that treat the pain.
Scientists have discovered that mindfulness meditation works in a whole different way. While this technique too reduces pain, it engages cognitive stimuli that don’t need a deceitful trigger to become active. With just the power of your mind, you can force your body to release protective substances into your system to eliminate the condition. The results noted that non-judgmental meditation provides a more intense pain reduction than any other placebo-induced treatment. It also discovered that you only need three sessions of 20 minutes a day of mindfulness meditation to combat pain and improve your health.
All in all, science has entered the realm of mind-body therapies and helped us greatly see their real effects. Medical results back up these healing methods and even recommend them.