Part Four: Natural Healing from Chronic Pain

I’m life coach and counselor Peter Winslow. Welcome to part four of our series on the science of natural healing from chronic pain. We have so far learned that the key to recovery from chronic conditions is found in the phenomenon of “neuroplasticity.”

Neurologists have discovered that neuroplasticity works in two ways; it can be either positive or negative. An example of negative plasticity: many elderly people are understandably afraid of falling. Trying to avoid an accident by looking down at the ground in front of them while they walk narrows their field of vision which in turn trains the brain to decrease physical coordination and balance. The resulting changes in the brain actually impair physical mobility and increase the likelihood of a fall, the one thing they were focused on, but trying to prevent.

Researchers tell us that chronic pain is also an example of negative plasticity. It’s the result of the brain repeatedly firing signals on specific neural pathways over time until what was once temporary information becomes an ingrained habit.

It’s like driving a truck on a muddy dirt road; the more you drive over them, the deeper the grooves become. The repeated pain sensations in your body construct an “information superhighway” on the roadmap of the brain, but it is not necessarily a permanent fixture.

Researchers have learned that chronic pain in the body can be reversed through neuroplasticity in the brain. You simply have to adopt the specific habits, behaviors and exercises that replace the old habits and patterns of the past.

If you want to build a healthier body than the one you’ve got now, you can certainly do it. Incorporating mind-body techniques into your exercise regimen is proven to reverse chronic pain and illness, and the sooner you begin, the better off you’ll be.

–Peter Winslow

Healing from Chronic Pain: The Science of Neuroplasticity

I’m Peter Winslow, a health and life coach in private practice. I experienced first-hand the healing power of the human body when I recovered from the pain and symptoms of a chronic autoimmune disorder called Ankylosing Spondylitis, or AS.

It’s important to point out that the word “chronic” when applied to disease means that doctors and drugs cannot cure it. AS is considered to be “incurable” because there isn’t a medical treatment to reverse it. Yet people have recovered from this and other chronic conditions through the healing power of their own bodies. How is it possible? Neuroscientists say it happens through a phenomenon called neuroplasticity.

Webster’s dictionary defines neuroplasticity as “the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury.”

Wikipedia says:

“Neuroplasticity is an umbrella term that describes lasting change to the brain throughout an individual’s life course. The term gained prominence in the latter half of the 20th century, when new research showed that many aspects of the brain can be altered even into adulthood. This notion contrasts with the previous scientific understanding that the brain only develops during early childhood and from then on remains mostly unchanged.

Neuroplasticity can be seen at multiple levels, from changes in individual neurons to larger changes such as cortical remapping in response to injury. Behavior, environmental stimuli, thought, and emotions also cause neuroplastic change which has significant implications for healthy development, learning, memory, and recovery from illness and injury.”

So behavior, environmental stimuli, thought, and emotions cause neuroplastic changes. That is where natural recovery from chronic pain begins.

–Peter Winslow

The Placebo Effect

peter winslow (life coach)I’m Life coach Peter Winslow. In an interesting bit of science news, research studies found in medical journals have reported that there are anti-depressant medications on today’s US market that register no measurable results in clinical trials. It has been accepted that a “placebo effect” is responsible for all the benefits that the retail users of those medications reported to their physicians.

You likely realize that the placebo works only because you believe it will. The placebo effect happens when you think a neutral substance will have a positive effect on you and just because you believe it, it really does.

In modern medicine, there have been studies conducted on the effects of placebos for decades, reporting confirmed cases of the placebo effect in action. One of the more astonishingly invasive studies from 1959 conducted by the National Institute of Health concerned a “mammary artery ligation” procedure used as a cure for angina pain.

The heart surgeon makes an incision in the chest and ties off two arteries, causing an increase in blood flow to the heart. The cardiologist hired for the study performed “sham surgeries” in which 8 out of 17 patients got incisions and stitches, but nothing else. 100% of patients who got the sham surgeries reported being cured.

Such invasive studies are not as common today, but are still being done. In 2002 at the VA Medical Center in Houston, 180 patients with osteoarthritis in their knees were treated with either arthroscopic procedures to remove damaged cartilage or placebo surgery which simulated arthroscopic surgery by making an incision but not removing any cartilage. After two years, and not being told who did and who did not receive the “real” surgery, there were no differences between the placebo and non-placebo groups. Every patient reported improvement in pain and in the ability to use their knees.

Dr. Bruce Moseley, the orthopedic surgeon who performed the surgeries reported: “I was initially very surprised… I could not imagine anybody suggesting that anything we do in surgery would benefit from the placebo effect. I associate placebo effect with pills. In my simple explanation of this outcome, the magnitude of placebo effect is directly proportional to the patient’s perceived intervention.”

In light of this information, you won’t find me volunteering for any surgical clinical studies.

– Peter Winslow

Your Identity Makes All the Difference – Part 6

I’m Peter Winslow, a life coach based in Scottsdale AZ. In this series of posts we have been learning about your true self, and what it means. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t a matter of your name, rank and serial number; your address, education or career; your religion, family history, personality or even your physical body.

What are the three core aspects of the true self? You will recognize them as: Love, Joy, and Peace of Mind.

In the last post we discussed love. Now we’ll look at the next aspect of the true self (what we are at our core) which is joy.

Many people go into the world seeking joy, yet too often it remains elusive and fleeting to them. Why? Because joy is something we find within us, not something that others can grant us.

“When my boss gets off my back, I’ll be happy.” “When I get that new Ferrari, I’ll be ecstatic.” “As soon as these things happen I’ll be truly joyful…” are expressions that indicate a profound misunderstanding of one’s own true nature.

When you acquire the Ferrari, the joy doesn’t come floating out of the steering wheel. Joy isn’t emanating out of the metal and rubber and leather and other things that make up the car. It is the joy within you becoming fully present with the circumstance that you are feeling.

You are made of eternal joy, but your thoughts may have gotten in the way. The thoughts you choose to believe are the only things that can block you from feeling the joy within you.

Like all authentic aspects of the self, joy is dynamic; it is growing and giving. It’s one of the dynamic essences that make you who you really are. And who you are, you will find, the world reflects back to you in equal measure.

So it is that we can bring joy to the world, rather than expecting the world to bring us constant joy—which simply does not happen. Expecting the world to provide us with perpetual joy is a dysfunctional expectation that always leads to disappointment, and worse.

In our next meeting we’ll discover true peace of mind. Now wouldn’t that be nice?

– Peter Winslow