MIND BODY MEDICINE
What is Mind Body Medicine?
Mind body medicine has been used and researched since Herbert Benson coined the phrase “the relaxation response” in the early 1970s, and yet it is only now, thanks to the advances in brain science, that we can actually ‘see’ the solid evidence of the relationship between the mind and the body.
Mind body medicine uses the power of thoughts and emotions to influence physical health and wellbeing. We realise the great power of our own natural healing force within.
The key to mind body techniques is training the mind to focus on the body without distraction. Of course when we are unwell or in pain either physically or emotionally, this is not an easy thing to do.
How does it work?
Physical and emotional feelings of stress cause the body to release hormones that can affect your internal systems and organs. Emotions such as anger and fear can impact on heart and immune function while depression and distress can prevent the body from healing.
For example in relation to fertility, it has been found that stress can cause a suppression of circulating gonadotropins and gonadal steroid hormones leading to the disruption of the menstrual cycle (Cameron, 1997). As well, the prolonged exposure to stress can lead to complete impairment of reproductive function (Lachelin & Yen, 1978).
Mind body programs aim to reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body to enable the immune system to better fight off disease.
Mind body medicine has been used in the treatment of:
- High blood pressure
- Menopausal symptoms
- Stomach and intestinal problems (IBS, ulcerative colitis, heartburn and Crohn's disease)
- Mental health issues (anxiety and depression)
- Coronary Heart Disease
Benefits of the Mind Body Program for Fertility:
- Research conducted on the program in the US has been associated with increased pregnancy rates
- Helps reduce the physical symptoms of stress
- Builds an understanding of the stress response and its impact on the body
- Increases the ability to elicit the relaxation response to calm the mind and the body in order to heal and prevent further injury
- Increases positive interactions and relationship between the mind and the physical body
- Reduces feelings of isolation, sadness, anxiety, guilt and anger through connecting and sharing with others who have shared experiences of infertility
- Increases your own sense of autonomy and ability to contribute to your wellbeing
- Improves lifestyle habits which may be negatively affecting infertility
- Develops coping skills for dealing with families, friends, partners, sharing your experiences of infertility
- Enhances self-esteem and self-worth through positive connections with others also on their infertility journey
- Develops life skills to enable better coping through other stressful life events
- Reduces the power of overwhelming negative and catastrophic thinking that can be common when coping with infertility
- Cameron, J. L. (1997) Stress and behaviorally induced reproductive dysfunction in primates. Seminars in Reproductive Endocrinology 15:37-45.
- Lachelin, G.C. and Yen, S.S., (1978) Hypothalamic chronic anovulation. American Journal of Obstetrics 130:825-31.
- University of Maryland Medical Center(2015) www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/mindbody-medicine