On the face of it, spiritual healers healing cancers will be mumbo jumbo to most people. But the role of the mind in healing cancers is now being researched quite actively. Let me present some facts on the table.
Ayurveda and TCM emphasize the ability of the body to self-heal. It is now understood that the neural system is constantly going through a cycle of death and renewal. Neurons die, and new neural connections are created. Kandel, the neuropsychiatrist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1990, found that if we do not use neural connections, they begin to shrink and die. We do appear to have the ability to reshape our brains.
Most of our genes are turned off and on by signals from our environment. These include stimuli from thoughts, actions, beliefs, and emotions. Negative emotions are known to trigger stress hormones, such as cortisone and adrenaline. Hormones such as oxytocin and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) are known to be healing hormones.
Dr. Joe Dispenza’s book—You Are the Placebo—presents numerous case studies on the brain’s self-healing ability (Dispenza, 2014).
Meditation helps calm the individual. Meditation is a relatively simple practice, which can be observed by anyone.
Mood disturbance and stress are symptoms frequently encountered by cancer patients. Depression, lack of sleep, cardiopulmonary and gastrointestinal symptoms, emotional irritability, and a sense of foreboding are some of the common feelings among cancer patients.
About 90 patients were organized into weekly meditation groups that lasted an hour and a half for 7 weeks. A total mood disturbance reduction of 65% and a 31% reduction in stress symptoms were observed (Speca et al., 2000).
Another study with cancer patients suffering from mood disturbance and stress symptoms showed a reduction of these symptoms after a meditation-based stress reduction program (Carlson et al., 2001).
As cancer treatment becomes more and more efficient, there is a need to improve the quality of life of such patients. Meditation is increasingly being viewed as an adjuvant to cancer treatment (Biegler et al., 2009). As evidence of the constructive role of meditation on cancer patients’ psychology is being accumulated, equally felt is the need for better instruments that can measure these positive changes (Matchim et al., 2007).
There have been reviews of studies investigating the impact of meditation on cancer patients. The reviews showed consistent benefits in improved psychological functioning, reduced stress symptoms, and an enhanced feeling of well-being (Ott et al., 2006). A meaningful change was observed in cancer patients given meditation sessions (Foley et al., 2010).
There is emerging scientific evidence that further strengthens this hypothesis that the mind plays an important healing role in disease management and control.