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Do You Know How Healing Works?

Most of what we think produces health actually does not. Test your knowledge.

There is an inherent healing capacity within us all that, when properly released, can produce remarkable recovery, health, and happiness.

The healing process is understood and applied in many traditions and by wise physicians today but has been obscured by modern medicine’s obsession with external agents, such as pills, procedures and supplements. While many of these technologies and treatments are extremely valuable, this hyperfocus and the economic rewards driving them has largely squeezed out the essence of what medicine is all about—how to guide a person to healing, wholeness, and well-being.

Take the quiz below to test your knowledge of the healing process. You might be surprised by what you will learn.

When rigorously studied, ancient traditional practices such as acupuncture and herbal remedies, as well as more recent complementary and alternative treatments such as homeopathy, dietary supplements, and manual therapies show disappointing results and only small effects. Likewise, data on most of our modern conventional treatments show the same thing. Most drugs for pain, mental health, ulcers, hypertension, and diabetes, for example, show little benefit—often only 20% to 30%. Furthermore, the more carefully the studies are done, the smaller the effects. Even more startling, only about 30% of well-done studies—executed in the laboratory or in the clinic—can be independently replicated. Thus our confidence that even a 20% improvement can be repeatedly obtained is low. Even surgery (when not simply changing anatomy, like fixing a leg or removing a tumor) works minimally. And when these treatments do work it is often not for the reasons scientists think they do.

Yet the paradox is that all these approaches can work if applied properly. When we looked at the rate of improvement in patients who received very different types of treatments from around the world, we found that 70% to 80% of people will get better. There are stories of Parkinson’s patients who get better with treatments as different as ancient Ayurvedic medicine and electrical stimulation of the brain, soldiers with PTSD who get better with yoga or psychotherapy, patients with pain who get better with acupuncture or opioids, and patients whose health improves when under the care of a homeopath or surgeon, even when rigorous studies show little if any effect from these treatments.

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