For a long time, I have believed that the best place to look for the key to good health is with those people that have cured themselves of incurable illnesses. By definition, those people have found the means to restore the equilibrium and natural healing powers of their own bodies.
Our perspective of what is curable and what is not is based not on absolute limits, but on our current scientific understanding of disease and the medical treatments available today.
Therefore when conventional medicine has no solution, there are only two options. Either give up, or find a way to heal yourself.
The idea of spontaneous healing is something that many people, especially in the field of medicine, are uncomfortable talking about and there’s generally little information available about such cases that we can learn from. Therefore, when Dr. Jeff Rediger, a Harvard Doctor and Psychologist, released his book Cured, I had to read it.
Rediger has spent 17 years investigating cases of spontaneous remission, trying to understand if and how such miracles occur in people who have been diagnosed with incurable diseases.
The cases that he has documented range from the most aggressive forms of cancer to auto-immune disorders and are truly astounding. Here are some of the key points that the book highlights to help our understanding of spontaneous healing.
Rediger makes the case that the medical profession has a culture of branding cases of spontaneous remission as miracles. He argues that this is unscientific and unhelpful. By calling these cases miracles, we dismiss them as something that can never be explained and is therefore not worthy of study. However, these are the outlier cases that should be studied more than any other so that we can uncover the root causes of unexplained healing. It is the very fact that we don’t understand cases of spontaneous healing that makes them worthy of rigorous study.
Although cases of spontaneous healing may look sudden and miraculous, there is good reason to believe that in most cases they are not sudden at all. Instead, they are the final outcome of a longer, deeper journey to engage the body’s ability to heal itself. Just as disease symptoms may spring up suddenly but are generally the outcome of long term strain on the body and mind, so too healing may appear to happen quickly but often has a long journey of recovery leading to it behind the scenes.
Medical professionals can often be very dismissive of cases of spontaneous healing or any natural approach to healing saying. They avoid talking about anything outside conventional practice, proven by “statistically significant” datasets in peer reviewed studies. They fear that looking outside of what is proven and accepted from such studies runs the risk of giving people “false hope”. Redeger argues that this is a blind spot that prevents people from seeing the possibilities that in many cases have often been proven, not by the average patient, but by the rare exceptions.
What’s more, the strong link between mind and body means that a prognosis can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Hope, on the other hand, can in itself be a crucial part of the medicine that helps people outlive their prognosis and in some cases recover from an incurable illness.
Rediger’s research shows that cases of spontaneous healing are far more common than most people currently realise and that the impossible is more possible than our doctors themselves have likely realised.
Rediger makes it clear that every case that he has studied is different and that the individual nature of healing actually seems to be inherent to its success. However, he does identify some common themes that have come up time and time again in his 17 years of studying spontaneous remission. He says that we must heal four main things.
In many cases, people’s journey to recovery involves significant changes to the way that they eat, eliminating refined, processed, nutritionally empty foods and shifting to a diet full of nutrient dense whole foods. Doing so reduces dietary inflammation in the body while fuelling all of our bodies systems with the micro-nutrients that they need to function optimally.
Rediger identified that poor functioning of the immune system is at the heart of disease and therefore healing the immune system is at the heart of healing. We must re-balance and boost our immune systems in whatever way we can. This includes improving our diets and reducing stress, but also can involve embracing other techniques such as eliminating toxins in our lives (physical and psychological) and embracing other methods of stimulating the nervous system and strengthening the vagus nerve, which is a key component is optimising our immune function. this can include acute stresses such as exposure to high temperatures as well as regular moments of positive human connection.
One of the key issues causing inflammation and throwing our immune systems out of balance is our constant state of “fight or flight”. Our hectic, overstimulated modern lives lead us to feel like we are constantly under threat, even though we are rarely in actual physical danger.
We must adapt our lifestyles to give ourselves the best opportunity of taking breaks from this chronic stress to relax our bodies and minds. He highlights daily meditation as a proven technique in helping us switch into our parasympathetic, “rest and digest” state. However, he says that we must all find what works for us individually. For some people, it might involve spending more time with people that we love or doing hobbies, and for others it might mean radically changing our lives.
Furthermore, he highlights how our attitude towards stresses in life makes a huge difference. Those who thrive and heal tend to be those who shift their perspective from seeing our daily stresses as dangers to seeing them as challenges. This fundamental shift not only changes our ability to cope mentally, but also changes our physiology in response.
Redigers research found that the psychological dimension of physical healing was far bigger than we would imagine and that a central pillar to this is how we see ourselves.
Our bodies and minds have deeply ingrained patterns of behaviour that define how we think about ourselves and how our bodies function. Changing these default patterns is difficult, but is an important part of healing in many cases. We may have internalised traumas from our past, we may have developed a belief that we are not blessed with good health, or even that we don’t deserve good health. We need to rewrite any negative and harmful beliefs and emotions in order to set ourselves free to heal.
Most people experiencing spontaneous remission have gone through a radical personal transformation, letting go of past traumas, learning to love themselves for who they truly are, and believing in a positive new vision for their own future.
This is a landmark book in an emerging area of medical science and like Rediger, I sincerely hope that the innate healing power of the human body and mind is given the focus that it deserves in the near future.
This post is a tiny summary of some of the key points in the book but cannot do it justice and I recommend anyone interested in human health to read it in full.
Conventional medical interventions have their place, but it is clear that we are currently missing out on powerful, complementary modes of healing. Especially in cases where we have failed to find cures, it surely makes sense to study those who have already found the path, even if by accident, to self healing.