Could a mental medicine chest contain the best subscription?

This blog, by Assistant District Manager, Melvyn Howe, appeared in the “This is” series.

The local GP has long been a respected figure of authority and a mainstay of family health.

For many people that usually means a health problem requires little more than an appointment, a prescription and some pills to pop for a week or two.

© GLOW IMAGES
model used for illustrative purposes

You then – hopefully – get better.

But a study by the General Medical Council has discovered many prescriptions are riven with mistakes.

The research, covering a 12-month period, discovered one in 5 of the patients whose records were examined had received at least one prescription containing a mistake. These included wrong dosages and a lack of instructions while “the most common serious error” was insufficient monitoring of those on dangerous drugs.

The Daily Telegraph said the figures suggested of the 900 million prescriptions issued annually in England 45 million contained faults – some of them “potentially life-threatening”.

Time pressures and complex computer software have been blamed for the mistakes, while longer consultations and better monitoring have been called for. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has insisted the government was working with GPs to improve practices although he maintained the “vast majority of prescriptions are checked by community pharmacists, who spot and put right any errors when they are dispensed”.

Despite the shortcomings the family doctor and the impressive panoply of NHS resources will, of course, remain vital to many for a long time to come.

At the same time alternative treatments such as acupuncture and reflexology have increased in popularity. Indeed many medical professionals have embraced these therapies for themselves.

In addition, there is an increasing recognition that thought can affect and improve health, with research carried out into the benefits of meditation and positive thinking .

Numerous studies on placebos have echoed the conviction that what you are thinking can have a major impact on your experience.

One proponent of this view is Dr Sean Mackay, head of the Pain Management Division at Stanford University, California, who believes pain really exists only in the brain and can be controlled by thought.

“I think of the placebo response, at least in part, as a manipulation of expectancy. And perhaps by changing the expectancy and bumping up the placebo response we might be able to ultimately find a way to provide sustained therapy for chronic pain,” he said.

The power of thought to control pain and improve health is something I have often experienced.

I grew up in a family that practised prayer-based spiritual healing and like a lot of youngsters naturally questioned what I was being taught.

As a result I used drug-based medicine on a number of occasions, but it only occasionally resolved the problem – and more often than not the symptoms returned.

Fortunately I never really stopped believing there was a divine source I could rely on.

By quietly composing my thoughts and becoming more aware of this spiritual presence as one that unconditionally loves and protects, I began to learn that there was an alternative to drug treatments to both maintain my health and recover it. A range of health issues have been resolvedpermanently as a result.

In a recent piece for CNN, mind-body author Deepak Chopra tantalisingly insisted that “thinking is real medicine”.

That suggests we can take perhaps take control of our own health and open our mental medicine chest as an alternative to a visit to the surgery, a prescription and pills to pop.

And for some, like me, the most potent potion in there is the universal life force, God. It’s free, has a Biblically attested track record of healings that continue today and has “side effects” – such as calmness, patience and forgiveness – which not only benefit myself but others too.

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Author:Tony Lobl

I write and speak on spirituality from my perspective as a Christian Science practitioner. I am also an Associate Editor for the Christian Science periodicals. I studied at the University of Surrey earning a BSc Hons Degree in Modern Mathematics before the impact of spirituality on health caught my attention and re-shaped my career.

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