How well does your body heal itself?

It’s all in your emotions. As a physiotherapist for nearly 40 years, I have seen first-hand clinical evidence of the body’s ability to heal itself. I’ve also seen when that doesn’t happen, leading to a chronic problem. What makes the difference?

One key element is our emotions. It’s amazing to see the impact of positive or negative emotions on the body’s ability to self-heal. People who hold onto negative emotions, such as anger or frustration, do not heal as quickly as those who have been able to let go of them and feel positively. So while our bodies do have an innate ability to heal themselves, emotions can either promote this healing, or interfere with it.

Indeed, Dr. Bruce Lipton, a well-known U.S. cell biologist, believes that emotions affect our health right down to a cellular level. In his book, The Biology of Belief, Dr. Lipton talks about “self-biology.” It’s a notion that we create our “own internal biology” through our perceptions and interpretations of everything and every experience around us, and the hormones that are subsequently released in our bodies are determined by those perceptions. Depending on whether those perceptions are positive or negative, different neuro-chemicals are released.

For instance, if we have fears about our physical or emotional safety, stress hormones (such as cortisol, norepinephrine, cytokines and histamine) are released into our bloodstreams and carried into our cells, adversely affecting our immune systems and hurting our health right down to the cellular level.

Conversely, when we have positive thoughts or feelings,such as being in love or feeling grateful, the hormones that are released into the blood –such as dopamine, oxytocin, vasopressin and growth hormone — create growth and regeneration. These “feel good” or positive effects are known to lower blood pressure, are good for our heart health and promote our ability to age actively. In fact, according to Dr. Lipton, studies have shown that about 30 per cent of all healing is through a “placebo effect,” with positive thoughts sending positive hormones to our cells.

Conversely, negative thoughts cause a “nocebo effect,” affecting our health negatively.

The bottom line: Our thoughts and emotions have a great effect on our health, good or bad. Or, as Dr. Lipton says, while positive thoughts can heal you, negative thoughts can kill you.