Beliefs alter the immune system. Simple. Not sure? Consider the old saying: “Think sick, be sick” and then find the research into this idea and you’ll soon find lots of evidence to support it!
For example… a study found that 79% of medical students report the symptoms of the illnesses they study. Another found that more traditional Chinese Americans die years earlier than non-Chinese US citizens if they were born in a year considered to be one of ill-luck. Still another looked at patient responses and found that when they were told they might vomit if they took a pill 80% vomited, even though the pills were no more than a sugar mix… and so on.
This is the nocebo effect – Latin for “I shall harm”, in this case, ourselves. Thinking we might get sick activates our stress responses and more cortisol and adrenaline are produced. This predisposes our bodies to illness.
Still not sure?
Then look at those studies which looked at why people who lead a “healthy” lifestyle are ill and why people with a truly “unhealthy” couch-potato lifestyle do not. The conclusions are that they became ill not because of luck, bad genes (only 2% of diseases are due to a single faulty gene), or their healthy habits but because they were lonely, miserable, in bad relationships, stressed at work, depressed, angry at their life and similar factors. All things that people can do something about of course.