Sunday, June 12

Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind Over Body [Book Review]

I first heard about Cure when it popped up as highly recommended by health guru Chris Kresser. Once I started reading it, the was no question about why he loved it. Author Jo Marchant digs into the question of exactly how accurate the old maxim “mind over matter” really is, how far it actually goes in real life, why it works, and how we could (and in some cases already do) harness our minds' abilities to affect our bodies in radically positive ways.

The book covers a lot of ground, balancing science and research with the wide-ranging stories of real people either benefiting from mind-body science or whose dilemmas are driving the next wave of research. Marchant explores the situations and applications of/for everyone from pregnant women to burn victims to chronic disease patients to children growing up in poverty. She does an excellent job of making the science reader-friendly; you don't have love or be an expert in biology, chemistry, or neuroscience to get what you're reading and follow along. I occasionally thought there was room for improvement in the structure of some of the chapters, but over all it was a well-constructed and thought-provoking read.

The best aspect of the book, in my opinion, was the positive and affirming nature of both the stats and the conclusions. Marchant clearly demonstrates the value and potential of highly controllable factors such as placebos, rituals, and personal, intentional and compassionate care to revolutionize health and pain management in constructive, drastic, and economically powerful ways. She makes a solid case for integrating 'holistic' and 'alternative' health practices based on the mind-body connection with mainstream practices in ways that stand to benefit all of us. Perhaps even more importantly, Cure gives both individuals and care providers what they need to know to be empowered to take better care of themselves, their families, and their communities.

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