Forgot your password?

The Placebo Effect and How The Mind Plays Games With the Body

By Edited Oct 18, 2015 3 6


A cameleon changes without thinking

The placebo effect is not the end of the story

The mind creates the concept of being either sick or well that is then physically manifested. We make a conscious decision about the input but some say this process can bypass the conscious mind. A chameleon does not decide what colour it is going to manifest. It is an automatic process and depends on the camouflage it needs. From there the somatic computer takes over and this is incapable of discrimination. Give it the instruction either way and all the systems will rally to produce the results. Tell yourself you are taking a drug (mind suggestion) and the body responds to the suggested effects (manifestation). We call this the placebo effect. But for the chameleon, there is another sub-routine that applies to us as well. When threatened, it turns dark, almost black regardless of the item it clings to. The brain is full of surprises.

An inactive substance or a specially formulated drug can produce the same physical effects as a drug. This depends on how well suggestions are presented on the label of the bottle or the literature that is used to create a mental platform. If no information is provided the effects of the placebo are absent. But side effects of blank placebos have been manifested when the patient is alerted to possible complications.

All this is mind mischief but the effects can be profound. Auto suggestion plays a significant role in medicine. So does a belief system. In 1986 the Kirsch studies involving a number of comparisons made between effects of antidepressant drugs and placebos showed that there was only a minimal difference of about 10%. This was even the case when two popular and very expensive antidepressant drugs plus an herbal alternative were compared to a placebo. St John's Wort (Hypericum), Prozac, Zoloft and the placebo only showed a minimal difference in efficacy. It seems that the depressed person takes the pill (a herb, a placebo or a drug) and regardless of the chemistry involved, the mind did the rest.

But that is not the end of the story because all drugs regardless of their origin can cause side effects even if nobody is not told about them. The funny thing is that when people alert the mind to possible problems they can also result in real complications - even with a placebo! With research about the benefits of certain herbs to help alleviate brain and nerve related disorders one has to be conservative.

On the one hand you need to tell the user of the beneficial effects of a substance but you do not want to put ideas into their heads. It is best to rely on observation and feedback. If it works, they will tell you and give you the details without any preconceived ideas. If something unpleasant happens you will know even sooner!this method is similar to the drug proving first used by Samuel Hahnemann in homeopathy.

Experience and observation work beyond the effects of a placebo

Homeopathic remedies are based on a system of observing the effects of a substance without any prior knowledge. The process is called drug proving. The observations of people who undergo a drug proving are studied to produce a symptom picture. For example, if onions make your eyes water then the onion can be used in a homeopathically potentised remedy to correct a problem with excessive tearing of the eyes. A bee sting produces itchiness, burning, swelling or a rash. This is a symptom picture of the effects of histamine, so a remedy is made from the bee venom to use as an alternative to an antihistamine drug and so on.

I have often unwittingly made similar observations and once discovered that after drinking a blend of herb tea my joints began to ache. Muscles felt painful, almost bruised. I felt stabbing pains in my neck and jaw. I checked the ingredients and sure enough, one of them was St John's Wort. I had not known this beforehand. In homeopathy we use a remedy made from this herb for similar aches and pains at a low potency of D 6. It does not contain the active substance, only an energy blueprint of it that works in reverse to the herb itself.  At a more diluted level it is used to ease a piercing, stabbing pain such as toothache or a crushed finger.

St John's Wort growing in Ethiopia and they can learn what it is used for

St Johns Wort and Bullrush

This may sound a bit mind-boggling but bear with me. St John's Wort in the herbal (gross) form alleviates depression they say. Side effects include stabbing pains and photosensitivity. In a potentised form it should do the reverse so does taking St John's Wort as a homeopathic remedy cause depression, yet treat aches and pains and photosensitivity?

St John's Wort (Hypericum) is said to work as a selective serotonin uptake inhibitor in its natural, unpotentised state. There is no mention of the side effects (drug proving) that include shooting pains and aching joints. But photosensitivity is often mentioned. Talk about a "selective information uptake overload"! It is hard to tell if the information is relayed by the mind or by simple feedback from areas of the body that experience the effects. The good news is that many people love St John's Wort because when they take it they don't feel depressed. There are no really harmful side effects as compared to patent drugs and it is a lot cheaper. Even the difference in cost will help to alleviate "financial depression".

The nocebo effect and how it sabotages health and wellbeing

A nocebo effect is the opposite of a placebo effect. They both use the same belief system in opposite ways. According to some studies the conscious mind does not even have to be involved but that is debatable. When the media explodes with a story about harmful effects of anything from wi-fi exposure to a virulent bug going round people will get ill and faithfully prove the harmful effects even if the information was a scam. Studies also show that people feel better protected by a vaccine against the flu that is more expensive and more difficult to get.

Some people will be given a remedy by a friend for their ailment. It may be exactly what they need to get better but they object to it coming from a friend, costing next to nothing and not being a formal drug that is prescribed by their doctor. The result is obvious. They will not get better and they will soon complain of headaches, cramps or whatever they can imagine in order to make their point. We were told as children to: "put on your jersey or you will get a cold!" Yet another example of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The big ugly lie about parabens - people believe it!

Most people are terrified of parabens in cosmetics. "Well informed" people complain about the use of methylparaben and propylparaben that are used to control microbial infections in herbal products. People prefer to use a product that does not contain any preservatives. This means that the product may be contaminated and unfit for use but it makes them happy. Big names in the cosmetic industry claim that these parabens are artificial harmful chemicals. They warn people that if the product cannot be put in the mouth they must not use it on the skin. They say that parabens are hormone disruptors and they cause cancer.

All of this is not true. Not one of these claims can stand up to well researched evidence to the contrary but as said before, the bigger the lie is, the more people will believe it. How about you? the truth is that mangoes and granadillas are full of these parabens! Parabens do not have a molecular structure that even resembles a steroid hormone with 4 carbon linked molecule. 90% of the parabens we find in the body are from food sources including green tea, vanilla and strawberries.

The joke is that we buy "organic" paraben-free cosmetics with these ingredients and feel good about spending the extra money. You may ask if the product contains the real green tea that contains parabens or have they conjured up fake paraben-free green tea and other immaculate "organic" conceptions! Then we foul-mouth people who use parabens as they occur in nature and make products that last for decades because they are not infected. But worrying about a product that contains parabens is probably what produces the nocebo effect.

They say it’s all in the mind but without a healthy clean brain it is impossible to think your way out of a perpetual fog.

Your mind can be influenced by information that is either true or false. It is the mind that offers the suggestion to the body to become ill or to be healthy. But if the mind is foggy in the first place then a dodgy blueprint will be channelled to the body to manifest. A confused mindset will send out conflicting instructions. People also make suggestions, claims and offer amazing cures and special diets. You are free to accept them or reject them. But they say that the bigger the lie is, the more people will believe it. We may add that if the lie has been told by an important doctor or professor then more people will fall for it and ont even question its validity.

Rather seek the truth and work things out for yourself. Eating like Professor Tim Noakes is a fine example of how carbo-loading can cause brain fog. He is also ignorant about all the other side effects of such an unhealthy protocol. Time and bitter experience caught up with him and all his followers were left to work out how to tell the mind the exact reverse of what he claimed. Dr Atkins shows how a meat and fat obsession to the detriment of carbohydrates can backfire and also result in ill-health.

Collective unconsciousness and universal beliefs can create diseases

In some countries menopause is a health problem and needs hormones and drugs to correct it. In primitive and remote areas women view it as temporary phase that leads to empowerment and a new lease of life. In Japan and China people consume vast quantities of MSG (monosodium glutamate) and do not have damaged neurons as a result of it. We are told by important doctors that is is a synthetic toxin. People panic and insist that all products should be free of MSG.

This became a joke because the body makes its own glutamate and it is an important neurotransmitter. The nerve damage that occurs is avoidable. It is due to excessive cortisol that interferes with its uptake in the brain. When garlic is eaten with MSG or at other meals it helps to protect neurons from oxidative damage. This neurotransmitter is certainly not a man-made toxin but people believe it is and then they get sick when they eat it. The highest levels of monosodium glutamate occur in soy sauce, tomatoes and parmesan cheese. Now labels have to declare: "No added MSG." What do you believe?

Mind over grey matter

The mind is not one of our physical components. It requires solid human hardware to interact with. The brain and nervous system depend on the mind and the thoughts and suggestions that it generates. Both need to be kept healthy and free of toxic, destructive elements: “A sound mind in a healthy body.” The brain and nervous system are vulnerable to environmental toxins, especially herbicides that can destroy nerve endings that are responsible for the uptake of dopamine. Even food, especially an inappropriate overload of carbohydrates can have a chaotic effect on our hormones and neurotransmitters. (Tim Noakes has finally discovered this!)

It is important to deal with matters of the mind at all levels. Stress makes one ill because of the way cortisone and other neurotransmitters that deal with emergency situations shift from a temporary surge to extended phases that can damage nerve endings and disrupt our internal network. Simple stress reducing techniques are very effective because they work at a more conscious level. A mind that is reassured and relaxed can influence the way our body chemistry behaves. This is what really changes the way hormones and neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, serotonin and dopamine behave.

How serotonin takes care of our wellbeing

But what if the neurotransmitter does not have enough time to engage on the designated receptor site? Let us look at a popular scenario. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps to control some rather unpleasant effects: anxiety, depression, rage, obsessive compulsive disorder and often an attempt at suicide. Yes, life is not worth living if serotonin is not engaging on a receptor and delivering those feel good, happy messages! Over time your sensitivity to pain increases and you can suffer from a lack of sleep and have constant cravings for sweet things. Although you may have enough serotonin floating around it may be that the receptors are not fully engaging with it.

Serotonin is made out of an amino acid called 5-hydroxy-tryptophan (5-HTP). The brain also needs it to produce melatonin, a hormone that controls our sleeping cycles. It also helps us to prevent some types of cancer. Good nutrition is required to make sure there is a steady stream of amino acids for the production of important hormones and especially our neurotransmitters. But if something interferes with the uptake of these messengers we still do not get any relief. Drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSR’s) are used to correct this problem. But they do nothing to address the real cause of the broken connection that may be damaged nerve endings.

Most of the drugs cause further complications that include tremors, sexual dysfunction and suicidal tendencies. This can lead to dependence on other medications to correct these side effects. Antipsychotic drugs are often prescribed but they can cause insulin resistance and long-term neurological damage. This gets us back to the original problem – if the nerve endings are damaged it is impossible to benefit from serotonin. Are there herbal alternatives? St John’s Wort (Hypericum) is a popular herbal remedy to use to improve the uptake of serotonin. It can increase photosensitivity in some people but it is a safer option.

A natural way to help neurotransmitters and hormones deliver their messages

There is another way to improve the performance of hormones and neurotransmitters on receptor sites and it offers a very elegant and non-habit forming solution. A second messenger is the nickname for a naturally occurring delivery system based on cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). We know that adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a three-part energy bundle used to fuel up the cell’s power station called the mitochondria. It splits into three units of cAMP to activate the designated receptor sites of some of our major hormones. cAMP is one of the keys to controlling communication between the brain and its hormonal messengers.

Barry Sears the author of The Anti-Ageing Zone came up with an excellent protocol to increase and activate cAMP. It involves a strict low carbohydrate diet that keeps levels of insulin and cortisol under control. Large amounts of Omega 3 supplements complete the equation and cAMP becomes readily available. Forskholin is a phytochemical that activates adenylate cyclase - the enzyme that breaks down the ATP bundle to release the cAMP. Forskolin comes from the roots of Coleus Forskohlii. The action of the cAMP is prolonged in the presence of caffeine, justifying the addition of Chinese green tea to impart a longer life to your second messenger!

Coleus for cyclic AMP

Forskolin from the herb Coleus Forskholii helps to treat: hypertension, mild congestive heart failure, asthma, eczema and psoriasis, digestive weakness, irritable bowel problems and weight gain. It is good for persistent urinary infections. Coleus also has anti-inflammatory properties and anti-histamine effects. Coleus helps to improve the effects of hormones like oestrogen and testosterone. It enhances thyroid activity and this speeds up a sluggish metabolism and helps to burn fat. It helps to alleviate insulin and leptin resistance. This in turn improves appetite control and reduce sugar cravings.

Our mind affects hormones and neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters need to actively engage on their target receptors and stay there, until the message is delivered. It is important to maintain our levels of raw materials such as amino acids and to restore damaged nerves. Herbs can work miracles in this arena and are part of the tool kit we need to repair and maintain our central nervous system upon which the mind depends to express itself and carry out our scenarios. But it is the mind that is responsible for giving out the commands in the first place and it is up to us to base our beliefs on what is beneficial and not harmful.

If we believe a condition is incurable then we will have to live with it. How often are we told this, even by doctors? This is what the mind then tells the body and the hormones and neurotransmitters will orchestrate and even dramatize the effects of the so-called condition. They are merely carrying out what you believe even if it is not true.

This happens when patients are given a wrong diagnosis in a hospital. For example, a man who was awaiting the condemnation of a diagnosis of incurable cancer received an all-clear prognosis by mistake. He was jubilant and went home and never was affected by the worrying symptoms again. They went away. But his actual report was given to a healthy person by mistake who went into shock mode and died of cancer some time later. The hormones and neurotransmitters don’t control us; they react to the way we feel and think. A perceived danger is real to them and stress reactions take over even if there isn’t a real tiger in the room.

Rural tribesmen in Ethiopia are receptive to information about their plants

The belief in herbal cures in Ethiopia

Always be mindful of health and happiness and it will manifest

All of us can take positive steps in order to feel better and not dwell on what is wrong. (It may not be but you can imagine the problem.) In other words, suggest to the body that there is a problem and that is what you will get. Resisting the problem will make it worse because what you resist will persist. Denial will not work either as it is based on resisting the problem.

No medical diagnosis, treatment or drug is needed to encompass a little effort and discipline in our lives. When you take positive steps to make a few changes and feel good about the things you encompass to help a condition you have already given yourself a positive dose of mind medicine. Feeling good and relaxed and delighting in the effects of what you plan to do is good for the body, the mind and the soul.

We are quite capable of manifesting a healthy happy body regardless of what it looks like in the mirror. The body is the mirror of the mind and that is where the biggest changes can be made. The mind is the mirror of your soul and your soul is connected to God-consciousness. So what do you see in your mirror?

The Placebo Effect: An Interdisciplinary Exploration
Amazon Price: $35.00 $27.31 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 18, 2015)
The Imp of the Mind: Exploring the Silent Epidemic of Obsessive Bad Thoughts
Amazon Price: $16.00 $8.30 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 18, 2015)


Jul 3, 2013 4:33pm
Bravo...Bravo! For a guy who has made a study of how the brain/mind works and creates its own realities, etc., I found your article not only excellent writing but informative and thought provoking--5 stars from me, a rating and you've got a new follower.
Jul 4, 2013 2:25am
Your support is much appreciated. I am trying to work up to what the mind does but am still busy with brain chemistry (hardware). All these years I have been assuming that mind power, belief and positive thinking is everything (software = body internet) but we do need a healthy computer!
Jul 4, 2013 6:45am
Hi: I am compelled to respond to your comment. Yes, while our :hardware" needs to be in at least good, average health it is known now that the information fed the brain can actually change its chemical structure--for example one study reveals that if a child is called "slow" in a few ways over any period of time, that child may grow a "slow" heartbeat or "slow" working liver." Certainly the endorphins change with our attitudes. A quick story, you might find interesting: Around 5 years ago I came within a few days of death. The doctor told my wife I had a zero survival chance save for a miracle and she needed to contact my relatives. Thankfully, my wife insisted that the doctors only tell me I was getting well and looking better. They did and I attribute my healing to that mind game more than all the medicine I was given. In fact, if you've ever read Candice Perk, the renowned neuroscientist, she says, "I no longer believe in disease at all. Disease is a hundred percent mental. It's just your brain state being reflected in your body. Lastly, regardless of what the reductionists claim , I am 100% convinced that the brain is NOT necessary for consciousness to exist. In any case, as you can clearly see your article continues to intrigue me so once again congratulations on a truly great and thought-provoking article.
Jul 3, 2013 9:15pm
"Without a healthy clean brain it is impossible to think your way out of a perpetual fog." Love this. Great article.
Jul 4, 2013 2:28am
Thanks, it is important to do a bit of detox now and then. But even people with a healthy brain can do sick things. Just look at our ancestors who lived on organic wild food, no pollution and clean air. They began to make weapons and then kill each other.
Aug 22, 2013 5:29am
You mentioned that parabens are found in nature. Then surely if the man-made parabens are identical in structure they do the same thing - prevent microbial infections?

It is very strange that they could be hormone disruptors at the same time! Perhaps we should all wake up and look at the real facts. Thanks, yindee for pointing this out.
Add a new comment - No HTML
You must be logged in and verified to post a comment. Please log in or sign up to comment.


  1. by Jonathan Leo, Ph.D. / Jeffrey Lacasse, Ph.D. "60 Minutes, The SSRIs, and The Dirty Little Secret." Mad in America. 4/06/2013 <Web >
  2. "The Nocebo Effect: Media Reports May Trigger Symptoms of a Disease." Science Daily. 4/06/2013 <Web >
  3. "The Nocebo Effect: How We Worry Ourselves Sick." the New Yorker. 4/06/2013 <Web >

Explore InfoBarrel

Auto Business & Money Entertainment Environment Health History Home & Garden InfoBarrel University Lifestyle Sports Technology Travel & Places
© Copyright 2008 - 2016 by Hinzie Media Inc. Terms of Service Privacy Policy XML Sitemap

Follow IB Health