Author: Behzad Azargoshasb

What place do belief and faith have in Healing?

Life is a mysterious and curious phenomenon. Our existence is predicated by our ability to survive, and our survival is contingent on us staying healthy. Throughout millennia we have endured even during times when medicine was in its infancy. So what could be the missing link that has helped us overcome our health challenges and any adversity waiting to wipe our existence? Could faith or belief have something to do with it?

When we think about belief and faith our first thoughts will most likely be of religion and spirituality. Most of us are thought to believe in a higher power without proof of existence and have faith that everything will be alright. This is the fundamental belief system which is ingrained in most believers. And I think overtime this type of thinking filters down into our psyche and influences us on levels we cannot even comprehend.

Look at the human body, this amazing miraculous healing machine. It works day and night to keep you breathing and your heart beating and all the millions of little bio-chemical processes taking place just to keep you alive. When we fall sick or hurt ourselves, inadvertently we seek medicine to make us better. Medicine is a wonderful tool at enhancing our healing abilities and providing the necessary ingredients to restore health, but ultimately it’s your body that heals itself. Even if you did not take any medicine the chances are that you will get better, provided the disease hasn’t progressed to a stage where there has been too much damage or it’s progressing at a rapid rate beyond your healing abilities.

There have been instances of spontaneous recovery from life threatening health conditions and people outliving their doctor’s prognosis. There are instances of people being told they can never walk again to only walk a few short months later. The stories are endless and it makes us wonder what all these cases have in common. Looking deeper we can see that most of these individuals believed that they would get better. Their faith in their ability to recover was so strong and unwavering that their bodies had no choice but to comply and heal itself completely.

In medicine we are well aware of this phenomenon and most medical experiments take the patients belief system into account through the observation of the placebo effect. When the application of medicine is studied a control substance without any active ingredient is also used generally in half the participants to rule out the placebo effect, an effect observed in individuals who show measurable benefits to the treatment based solely on their belief that they received the real medicine and that it will benefit them, even though they got the fake medicine. And there have been instances where the placebo actually does an equal or better job than the actual medicine itself. This is not to say that medicines don’t work, it just demonstrates how powerful our minds can be in influencing our health. If you think something is going to make you better, even a sugar pill can do miracles.  I am reminded of an experiment done years ago where one set of patients got knee surgery for osteoarthritis and another set got a sham surgery where only incisions were made on the skin of the knee and sown up to simulate knee surgery. In both cases the patients got better. The patients who believed they got a knee surgery even though they didn’t seemed to improve just as well as the folks who got the actual surgery, which is remarkable. This begs the question, is this type of surgery even necessary?

Just as the placebo effect improves a patient’s health outcome, the nocebo effect can have a negative outcome on a patient’s health due to the expectation of the patient that the medicine or treatment he or she is receiving will harm them. Real noticeable and measurable effects are recorded in people who experience the placebo and nocebo effect, which can only be attributed to their psychogenic belief system.

So what does this mean for us? It means that we need to realize, our thoughts can have a great effect on our health. Although our bodies will heal itself regardless of whether we believe it will or not, our belief in our ability to get better or not will to some extent influence the rate at which we heal. In some individuals their minds can have a very powerful influence on their health. In such cases, learning to generate positive thoughts on a regular basis is important for your health. You can literally think yourself into sickness and you can think yourself out of sickness. Having said that, take everything you learn with a grain of salt. We are not one dimensional beings and everything we do can influence our health to some extent. Eating wholesome foods, sleeping well and exerting regularly are fundamental for your well-being but now you need to give equal importance to your stress levels and your thought patterns.

What you consistently think will influence your belief system and feed into it and vice-versa. A negative belief system which looks at the world as a dangerous place, can skew our thoughts down a dark path with every experience. If you are currently unwell or on the brink of healthiness, look at your thinking patterns. Are most of the thoughts you generate making you happy or sad? Can you make a connection between how you feel emotionally and how your body responds physically? Since our belief systems and the thought patterns they generate are ingrained in us and have developed over years through our experiences and what we have been thought, it will take time to change them for the better. Meditation and introspection in my opinion are wonderful tools to rewrite how we think to better serve us. Here is a simple meditative exercise, extrapolated from a chapter in my book, “Rules of Health” to help you overcome destructive thought patterns. Every day for a few minutes, sit and just observe you thoughts. When negative thoughts arise dismiss them by being an impartial observer. Let such thoughts go and bring your focus back to the silence and stillness within you. When positive thoughts occur, pay attention to them and give them energy, by following those thoughts as they progress. Overtime your neural pathways will develop to support and generate encouraging and constructive thoughts. What I just described is an enhanced process of mindfulness based meditation. Some folks prefer to use prayers others choose visualization techniques. Do what works for you. Do not fear your mind and its power, as it will enslave you. Work with it, train it, and with time you mind will consistently generate thoughts that are life affirming and healing in nature.

Hope you enjoyed this article and found it of value.

In good health,

Dr. Behzad Azargoshasb, ND

What is true health and can it be achieved?

Have you ever wondered what it means to be truly healthy? Is it the absence of disease that defines true health or is it living a vibrant gratifying life in spite of having a health condition? On almost a daily basis, we are bombarded with health information from all sources, some more legitimate than others. There are varying opinions in the health industry as to what constitutes a healthy body and most times it’s motivated by what can be sold to you, the consumer, in the form of products or services.

I believe that your personal true health is what you want it to be. There are limitations of course. If your expectations are to have a perfect body and never to fall sick then you might need the help of alien technology. However, if you want to optimize your health and strengthen your body and mind, then you are on the right track. As I have discussed in my book, health falls on a continuum. It is an ever evolving and dynamic process within you, which means it keeps changing to suite your needs. It is influenced to a certain extent by your inherited genes but it is more greatly influenced by your diet and lifestyle.

We as a society have delegated the responsibility of our health to the health professionals. But is that a right move or should we be taking more accountability for our own health? These highly trained individuals are there when we need their help in case of emergency situations. However, if we truly want to achieve optimum wellness, we need to take our health into our own hands. True health starts with learning what constitutes healthy living. Most of us intuitively know what that entails. We are natural beings, as in we literally came from nature. All the ingredients that made us at one point were part of Mother Nature. It only makes sense that if we align ourselves as best we can with our natural world then our health will balance itself and reach a point of equilibrium. This will manifest itself as return of your health to where it should be and many more days where you will feel amazing both physically and emotionally. Your body will start healing and rid itself of ailments. All this will happen without any effort on your part. All you have to do is provide the right ingredients for health and get out of the way and let your body do its thing.

Our bodies are designed to self-heal. The last time you had a cut or a bruise were you worried that it would not heal? I bet, it never even occurred to you that your body would not heal itself. The same expectation should be applied to any health concern we have. The bigger the concern the longer it may take for your body to heal but it will undoubtedly take care of itself. However, if the things which are affecting your health, what we call obstacles to health are not removed then your body is fighting an uphill battle which it may not win. Most times these obstacles to health are our unhealthy behaviours, such as smoking, drinking excessively, eating highly processed foods regularly, being overly sedentary, living in a toxic environment (physically and/or emotionally), not sleeping well or enough and being highly stressed. By removing these obstacles and adopting a healthier lifestyle you will give your body a chance to repair itself and restore homeostasis. This may seem easy to do but is harder than it sounds in our modern world and the techniques I teach in my book, “Rules of health” will help you get there much faster, in a safer way and with less effort.

Why have we become obsessed with health as a society? There is a rise in chronic health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer, depression and heart disease. This plus the lack of permanent solutions to such conditions has made the average person anxious for their own health and well-being. To overcome this challenge, you may get on the internet and start searching for answers and quick remedies and undoubtedly will find something. However, because you may not have the training in human physiology and how the body works or how to decide if what you are reading is accurate or trustworthy you may get lost in a sea of misinformation and more confusion. If this describes your behaviour, I would recommend not to randomly search for solutions but to be methodical about it. Educate yourself first and foremost on how to do proper research and learn how the human body functions. Learning how to filter this information correctly is the critical next step and finally knowing how to apply what you learnt to real life situations and assessing the outcome is the final step. If this is something many are interested in I could write more about it in future blogs. Let me know.

So what is true health for you? Have you decided? Assess where you are now and where you want to be. Educate yourself on ways of achieving a healthy diet and lifestyle that are sustainable. Allow sufficient time to reach your health goals and be patient with yourself while you implement your newly learnt health strategies in achieving these goals. You will have good and bad days and that is just part of life. Don’t give up. Health is truly a journey and not a destination. On this journey you will discover things about yourself which may surprise you. Appreciate the uniqueness which is you and celebrate the life you have been given. True health can be achieved and it’s yours for the taking.

I hope this article was of some value to you.

In Good Health

Dr. Behzad Azargoshasb, ND