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Category: Mind Matters

  1. Is ill health a placebo?

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    A placebo is som1211h0013ething that has an effect for no known reason and therefore the effect is attributed to a belief rather than any intervention.  For a more detailed explanation and explosion of the placebo effect click here.

    Placebos have been around for a long time and the namw comes from the stem word to 'placate' meaning to soothe or please.

    In the USA placebo operations were carried on on patients with Osteoarthriis of the knee.  The result showed that there was no difference even after 12 months between the improvement of  the genuine op and the placebo op wheras the control group who did not have any kind of operation did not improve and deteriorated post the experiment.  The placebo op was a nick in the knee and conversation in the theatre that would be similar to a normal operation. See report here

    The colour of the tablet is carefully considered by pharmaceutical companies.  Research has shown that the correctly chosen colour can enhance the effectiveness of the medication.

    As more and more evidence comes in to show that our thoughts have a profound effect on our bodies.  So then you would think that we should all be able to think ourselves healthy  ... but it's not that simple.  The subjects of the placebo effect are not thinking themselves well, they are believing themselves well and that's hard to manufacture.  We rarely have any control over it.  It's just one of those thoughts that we don't even know we are thinking.

    In this country it is considered bad form for the NHS to make use of placebo but that doesn't stop the placebo working the other way.  How easy is it to form a belief when you have the word of a professional i.e. "You have arthritis and will need a replacement knee wthin 5 years", "You have congenital heart problems in your family we will have to keep a regular check on your heart function".  Two potential negative placebos are instantly in place in those examples. We shouldn't just blame the doctors though, you know yourself that we all have a little hypnochondria in us and to some extent when we read/hear about symptoms can recognise them in ourselves. 

    It is and has been said by some very prominent people that anything you can image you can have and unfortunately that works for the negative things too.

    Do you know what you are thinking?

    Well considering we have an estimated average of 15,000 thoughts per day - that's 10 per minute, every minute of the day and night, it's probably fair to say that for most of the time you do not know what you are thinking.

    Yoga masterMany thoughts are going to be reinforcing your beliefs so for the knee patients from the experiment they would be regularly telling themselves that the operation had improved their knee and it was cleaned out and getting better.  They would feel the emotional relief  of the promise of less from the pain.  A belief that they weren't really aware of but just accept.

    Out of those 15,000 thoughts at least 1/2 are said to be negative.  That's an awful lot of negativity that you are absorbing without even knowing it for most of the time.  So it's not unreasonable to think that if your positive beliefs can make you better then your negative ones can make you ill.

    Research into quatum physics is now beginning to show that our thoughts have influences and effects that we never even dreamed of not only on ourselves but also on the biosphere around us.  Therefore our thoughts can effect others and the world we live in.  But the first stop for our thoughts is our body.

    So does positive thinking work?

    There are mathumbs upny books around on the power of positive thinking and plenty of best sellers on the subject to and while a positive is better than a negative one, it would be impossible to use positive affirmations to replace all those negative thoughts that are working away in the background of your mind.

    Some of the negative thoughts are worries and those are more noticable so that you can start to change things by being vigilant and learning to rationalise your thought processes in order to eventually worry less.  It's a lot easier to just carry on worrying though.

    Spiritual beliefs are much deeper than positive thoughts.  Even unrealistic or unreasonable beliefs.  Ingrained beliefs from the past that are not really relevant or sensible are also difficult to overcome unless you stop and rethink them each time they pop up i.e. it is wasteful to not empty your plate.- but worse - you will never get anywhere with your attitude etc. etc.

    Creating the positive belief in the face of all the implanted negatives is serious business.

    Being more consicous of the words you are using for both internal and external communication can be a useful start towards beginning to chance the way you think.  See here for free offer


    If you saw a hyperdermic needle and someone told you they were going to inject you with a miracle cure for tiredness or depression or the common cold and you saw them preparing the injection, then you were asked to look away and you felt a pin prick or a hair on your arm being pulled then you would probably believe you had the injection.  What'smore you would probably notice that you were less tired or more cheerful or brushed off your colds more easily.  Just because you had reasonable evidence to support the fact that you had the injection.

    Hypnotherapy is able to get beyond your doubt and  create a new thought, which if congruent with your desires will begin to act like a belief at least temporarily.  So for instance you would not need to go to the trouble of arranging a hyperdermic needle for hypnotic suggestion to give you the belief that you were feeling more energetic, more cheerful or less susceptible to colds.

    Using self-hypnosis can also help to change a desire into a belief.  Check out our new self-hypnosis course starting soon.

    This is good but the trouble is that often the underlying belief doesn't want to go away.  It's being occupying your mind for a while and doesn't want to give up, so it can be a long process to persuade and encourage your negative thoughts to let go.

    For a million corrupt and faulty reasons negative thoughts, beliefs and influences will not give up.  Many people are aware of them but just don't know what to do about them.  People are left feeling less than they could be, unfulfilled and if not miserable at least tense and mildly suffering.  Some people who are basically positive tend to put a brave face on it and try to ignore this, others find ways to divert their attention from it often never being able to relax and always having to be busy doing something. You can see how all this effort creates an emotional conflict and over a period of time that internal unrest and underlying negativity is going to show up in physical symptoms.

    Resolving these deep routed negative beliefs is a skilled job and rarely one that can be done without professional help.  Hypnoanalysis can set you free from this negative entrapment.

    Tablets that mask the symptoms (that need attention) tend to work for a while but will eventaully throw out more symptoms needing more medication until you are taking medication purely to conteract the effects of the medication you are taking.

    We are not yet developed enough to use the great potential of our mind to fully treat our health but I believe we are at the dawning of a new era where we will start to take more responsiblity for our health care and expect a naturally healthy life.

    However, working on yourself and using several methods to create a more positve mind set is always helpful until that time comes.

    Here are a few suggestions from the thousands of ideas out there:

    • Look up towards the ceiling or sky when you're feeling down - it will lift your spirits..
    • Try chanting a positive affirmation each monring before you start your day.
    • Use time in the car (especially in jams) to affirm your calmness/positivity/enthusiasm/professionalism
    • Don't worry about things you have no influence over - it will happen or it won't - worrying about it will only make any potential outcome worse.
    • Think of the good things you have done
    • Don't expect too much of yourself and acknowledge your efforts
    • Smile at people that you don't know - make someones day.
    • Laugh at your problems or worries

    Please feel free to add your own comments and suggestions below.

    Did you know that placebos can also have a negative effect resulting in the recipient experiencig negative symptoms - know as a nocebo.




  2. Coping with SAD

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    With the onset of Autumn and the rapidly approaching Winter, SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferers might already be starting to feel the effects of a dull wet end to the Summer and increasingly shorter days and poor light.

    This all sounds a bit negative but even if you have not prepared for the effects of SAD in the late Summer, which is always advisable, there are a lot of effective things you can do to try and alleviate those blues feelings.

    If you have not already got them get some Full Spectrum Lighting in your home even if it's only where you spend most of your indoor if you read a lot get a FSL reading light bulb...if you're in the kitchen a lot get one here and a good place is in the bed room on a timer to come on at an appropriate morning time to kick start you into the day. Some people swear by them in the bathroom that helps them when showering and making up for work etc

    In addition to indoor light exposure make sure you plan to spend quality time outdoors everyday even if it's overcast....even overcast light is better light than indoor Christmas time is sometimes a peak time for SAD plan outdoor activity over the festive period too.

    Your diet may also be a major player in SAD....try to keep "junk" food to a minimum...simple carbs like biscuits, cakes, pastries, breads and sweets don't help much except if you want to gain unwanted weight....and its a good time to consider your wheat intake as this Winter wheat products are expected to sore in price due to poor global wheat harvests resulting from climate change effects.

    You probably already know that serotonin levels in the brain are important for regulating mood, sleep and appetite and to maintain levels be sure to have plenty of complex carbs such as fresh fruits and veg and wholegrains and other foods associated with serotonin levels such are chicken, turkey, cottage cheese and peanuts (so long as you are not intolerant to any of these)...a good time to eat these foods strategically are mid day to late afternoon... then to push the resulting tryptophan increase through the blood brain barrier try a little mash or small jacket potato for supper. If you are taking Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors check with your GP about increasing these types of foods.

    If you are often dull and sluggish it might help to maintain good protein levels as these boost dopamine and norepinephrine levels that help to keep you alert and sensitive to protein at breakfast as we notoriously neglect protein at this meal favouring packet cereals and toast like breakfasts...try omelettes, poached or boiled egg...cottage cheese...bean pate or nut butters on wholegrain toast....or bacon or turkey rashers. Top up at lunch with sensible protein intake. As the day recedes you protein intake is less useful....this is interesting when you consider that many people have a thumping big protein driven meal in the evening when their bodies are preparing for approaching sleep.

    Remember, you don't want to add to your stress levels by making drastic dietary changes all at once and if you really fancy something naughty but nice it might be important that you have it occasionally so long as you are eating well for 90% of the time. So if you are always thinking about chocolate cake or hob nob biscuits then to resist this desire can often make things worse...just keep things in proportion.

    If you are not on medication and want to use supplements remember that supplements are what they say they are... they only supplement a good or appropriate diet and ask your GP if they are safe with any medication you might be taking....

    So what supplements might help with SAD? There are many claims for many supplements and you may have to try several to find one that works well for you but the following have been shown to be helpful in nutritional circles.

    1.Essential Fatty Acids help with normal brain function and many other things these days so they are worth considering

    2. Vitamin B Complex helps maintain normal brain and nervous system functioning and can help with stress.

    3. The mineral zinc has been found to be deficient in people with depression...use the lozenge type and do not exceed stated dose.

    The thing about natural products and supplements is that it's often horses for courses and some people discover one that really helps them while it might not help a friend they know who also has SAD so it may help to work with a Nutritionist who can steer you throught the jungle with both foods and supplements.

    If you are on any medication consult with your GP or a health professional if you are thinking of taking supplements or making considerable changes to your diet.

    May I wish you good Winter health and well-being

    Barry Todd |(Nutritionist)





  3. How to Choose your Hypnotherapist

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    fobwatchIt's difficult to choose a therapist and especially a hypnotherapist if you don't really think first about what YOU want from the therapist.

    You could easily compare it to choosing a roofer. You can't see the problem on your roof - you just know there is one and you have to reply on someone to talk to you and convince you that they know what they are doing on your roof and they understand haw to fix the problem for you.

    You don't really want to hear about how good they believe they are or what experience they have had or how many and great successes they have had. Impressive though that might sound, that is exactly what it is - sound.

    What you want the roofer to say is that s/he knows exactly what is causing the problem and the techniques s/he would use to solve it. Then you can decide for yourself how impressive s/he is.

    Well it's even more important with your therapist. Many hypnotherapist will commence to tell you how good they believe they are(sound), success stories they have had (sound) and how busy they are(sound).

    Whereas what you are looking for is someone who at least shows a bit of interest in you and your problem. You really want someone who is prepared to offer you a free introductory consultation and this time should be spent understanding you and your problem and giving you feedback and telling you how they would approach resolving your problem. They should be open to discussion and question and you should not make a decision until you feel comfortable that they understand you and are competent to help and you are happy with their approach.

    Obviously there are limits to the amount of time that therapist can spend on the intitial consultation so try to be succinct in your communication and listen carefully to the question and be sure to answer. Hypnotherapist usually have a lot of experience and know what they need to know so don't go thinking it is a session to unload all your worries and troubles but be prepared to go along with the theme and see how it comes together at the end. You will need to be able to trust your therapist and this is a good first exercise in doing so.

    If the therapist in confident in themselves they should not put you under pressure to book an appointment or make on the spot offers that run out and they should encourage you to take the time to consider your conversation, discuss with a friend or family member and ring back to book if they feel you are undecided.

    You should feel that you are in the company of a competent professional and not someone who wants to befriend you.

    Thankfully most hypnotherapists take their roles seriously and most will be happy do their bit to ensure that you have found the right person for you.

    Please do add your experiences of finding a therapist and let me know if you think this advise is helpful

    Andrea Lowe
    Hypnotherapist/analyst, NLP Practitioner and trainer