We have all heard about the placebo effect which is accounted for in research. What exactly is the placebo effect? It is nothing else than the mind's ability to produce a physiological effect and to induce healing. In addition to comparing the results from a placebo treatment with the real treatment, a lot of research has been done on the placebo effect itself which is very interesting.
If you want to see examples of how powerful the mind is, just read some of the research on the placebo effect.
The following study is a good example of some of the things the mind can do if we believe a treatment will produce specific results. (Benedetti F, et al. 2015). It's quite amazing. In this study the participants were treated with oxygen for high-altitude headache, and it was designed very cleverly. First, some of the participants were treated with real oxygen and some with sham oxygen (no oxygen), and the results were compared.
Everybody was tested for pre- and post-exercise headache along with fatigue, heart rate responses and, prostaglandin E2. Prostaglandin E2 is a pain producing chemical. Breathing real oxygen resulted in increased blood oxygen saturation and also a decrease in pre- and post-exercise headache, fatigue, heart rate and, prostaglandin E2.
The placebo oxygen changed neither pre- or post exercise headache nor blood oxygen saturation, heart rate or prostaglandin E2, but it decreased fatigue. This study also had another group, and this is when it starts to be interesting. First the participants were treated twice with real oxygen, but after that they were switched to the sham oxygen (no oxygen).
What they found now was that when no oxygen were given, but the participants still thought they were given oxygen, it decreased fatigue, post exercise headache, heart rate and prostaglandin E2, but without any increase in blood oxygen levels. What do we learn from this? The mind can produce very specific and powerful results if we really believe we are getting these results. I think it would be great if we could control our mind to produce the results we want, instead of having the mind control us. This is possible with training. I will write and talk more about that later.
Benedetti F1, Durando J, Giudetti L, Pampallona A, Vighetti S. High-altitude headache: the effects of real vs sham oxygen administration. Pain. 2015 Nov;156(11):2326-36. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000288.