What is Mind Body Medicine?

"According to a recent government survey, nearly half of all Americans used mind-body interventions in 2002. The respondents embraced practices ranging from deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation to meditation, hypnosis and guided imagery." Herbert Benson, MD, Julie Corliss, and Geoffrey Cowley, Newsweek, September 27, 2004

The Benson-Henry Institute's work is based on the inseparable connection between the mind and the body -- the complicated interactions that take place among thoughts, the body, and the outside world. Mind/body medicine integrates modern scientific medicine, psychology, nutrition, exercise physiology and belief to enhance the natural healing capacities of body and mind. The end result is self-care, a complement to the conventional medical paths of surgery and pharmaceuticals.

Although mind/body medicine is also commonly referred to as complementary or integrative medicine, it should never be described as alternative medicine. Mind/body interventions are scientifically proven, and have the same foundation in traditional medicine as surgery and pharmaceuticals. Alternative medicine, conversely, does not have scientific validation. As long as alternative medicine lacks this proof, it will not be practiced at the Benson-Henry Institute.

Studies show that between 60% and 90% of all physician visits are for stress-related complaints. Through more than 35 years of research and clinical practice, Herbert Benson, MD and his colleagues have proven the effectiveness of mind/body medicine in helping thousands of men and women reduce the stress that can cause or exacerbate conditions such as heart disease, infertility, gastrointestinal disorders, chronic pain, and more.

The mind/body connection interact has important implications for the way we view illness and treat disease. The BHI's model takes into account that physical health is influenced by thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and conversely, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can be influenced by physical symptoms. Social factors are important as well.

Dr. Benson has long described health and well-being using the metaphor of a three-legged stool. One leg is drugs. The second is surgical procedures, and the third is self-care.

Mind/body medicine is the third leg that incorporates all of the following:

  • The relaxation response
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Physical activity
  • Nutrition

Exactly how psychological and social factors, personal beliefs, and stress affect the development of disease continues to be studied. It is known, however, that the mind and body communicate constantly. What the mind thinks, perceives, and experiences is sent from our brain to the rest of the body.

Mind/body medicine teaches you how to take control of your life -- how to use your own healing power to reduce stress and other negative behaviors and thoughts -- and thus maintain or regain health.