A Harvard University study published in 2008 found the first compelling evidence that the Relaxation Response (RR) – the physiological response to meditation, yoga, tai chi, Qi Gong or repetitive prayer – affects our genes. Nineteen adults were long-term daily practitioners of various RR techniques, 20 were trained in RR eliciting techniques (breathing, mantra and mindfulness meditation) for 8 weeks, and 19 served as controls.
Your brain cannot tell the difference between something that’s real and whether you are just imagining it. Neuroscientists at Harvard taught a simple 5-fingered combination of piano notes to a group of people – thumb, index finger, middle finger, ring finger, little finger – which they played over and over again for 2 hours a day. They did this for 5 consecutive days.
A 2008 study at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak demonstrated the power of visualisation for the treatment of interstitial cystitis. Fifteen women visualised for 25 minutes, twice a day, for a total of 8 weeks, where they pictured healing the bladder, relaxing the pelvic-floor muscles and quietening the nerves involved. Fifteen women in a control group rested during these times so that the researchers could compare visualisation vs. non-visualisation.
From 2002 to 2006, the number of drugs that were axed after Phase-II clinical trials (volunteer trials) increased by 20% because the drugs couldn’t beat the placebos they were compared against. More recently, in 2008, a new gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease failed against the placebo. Similarly, in March 2009, Eli Lilly withdrew a new drug for schizophrenia because the placebo effect was double that expected. Also in March 2009, Osiris Therapeutics’ new drug for Crohn’s disease was also withdrawn due to a high placebo effect.
Scientists at Ohio State University, Ronald Glaser and Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, created small blisters on the skin of volunteers who were married to each other. First they asked the married couples to discuss a neutral topic, then they monitored the levels of a protein that is produced during wound healing over the next 3 weeks.
A study published by medics at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, showed that Therapeutic Touch (TT) – the laying on of hands – benefited premature infants. It was a double blind and randomized trial involving 20 infants of gestational age less than 29 weeks. Ten received 5-minute TT sessions on 3 consecutive days and ten did not. Measurements of Heart Period Variability (HPV) were taken 5 minutes before, during and after the treatment.