There are numerous studies proving the nocebo effect. The International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS) did a study in 2009. They took 140 women who either requested an analgesia just prior to giving birth or were about to have a cesarian section, and divided them into two equal groups. The first (nocebo) group was told, “You are going to feel a big sting and burn in your back now, like a big bee sting; this is the worst part of the procedure.” The second (placebo) group was told, “We are going to inject the local anesthetic that will numb the area where we are going to do the epidural/spinal anesthesia and you will be comfortable during the procedure.” According to the IARS, “The nocebo group reported a significantly higher score [of pain] after injection of the local analgesic compared with the placebo group.”
The National Institute of Health reported on a study where runners were given an inert pill (cornstarch and gelatin). Some were told it would help their running speed (placebo), others were told it would hinder their speed (nocebo). The nocebo group ran slower than the baseline, “suggesting that negative belief exerted a negative effect on performance.”
Another study, reported by Science Daily, had 147 people watch a documentary. One group was shown a report about health hazards associated with cell phone and WiFi signals, the other group watched a report on internet security. They were then told that they were being exposed to WiFi signals when, in actuality, they were not. “54% of the subjects reported experiencing agitation and anxiety, loss of concentration or tingling in their fingers, arms, legs, and feet. Two participants left the study prematurely because their symptoms were so severe that they no longer wanted to be exposed to the assumed radiation.”
Studies like these, demonstrate that words, both positive and negative, can affect people on a very deep level. Even when a person is feeling strong and empowered, like a runner, they can be affected. When someone is feeling vulnerable, as is the case when preparing to receive results from a medical test, or going in for a treatment, they are even more apt to be affected by statements, believing the people who they feel have authority.
My suggestion is to imagine an invisible filter around you when you are about to learn important health test results. It’s also a good idea while watching the news. This is not the same as disregarding what you hear. Listen to the words, take time to understand them fully, and take them as information. Let the imaginary filter keep any negativity, out. In other words, claim your power. Know that you have control over how words affect you. Create your own reality by consciously deciding how you move through your health situations.
Health professionals, which include everyone from doctors to energy workers, dentists to counselors, have more power than they may realize. Not only do they have skill and knowledge to help heal people, but their choice of using positive or negative words affect their patients, as well. In the same breath, I’ll state that we all have more power than we may realize. We are all capable of choosing how words affect us.
The lesson here is two-fold; 1) Health professionals need to choose their words wisely when they convey health information to their patients/clients. 2) Patients/clients need to filter out negativity from the facts, and mentally transform it into positivity.
Next time you start feeling ill, instead of thinking to yourself, “Oh, no, I’m getting sick,” think about how healthy you are. Honor your immune system for being strong and capable of providing pure health. Whatever you do, don’t allow anyone to use a nocebo effect on you. Not even yourself!