Spontaneous Remission: The Body’s Miraculous Self-Healing May Not Be as Rare as Doctors Believe

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Up to 19 percent of some cancers heal themselves, researchers discover. It baffles doctors — but it may be the key to understanding the power of the mind.

Spontaneous remission — where the body miraculously heals itself without medical help — is far more common than doctors realize, a new report has discovered.

Spontaneous remission grabbed the headlines last November when AIDS victim Andrew Stimpson’s disease reversed itself.

But a look at the research on spontaneous healing shows that miracles are not as rare as we think — it's simply that there has been no way of collating and recording the events, according to a report from the investigative health journal What Doctors Don’t Tell You (WDDTY).

Doctors sporadically reported cases of spontaneous remissions (SRs) throughout the 20th century, but it was two non-medical researchers who, 15 years ago, took on the huge task of collating all the reports into one database. Caryle Hirshberg and the late Brendan O’Regan both worked at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). The pair assembled 1860 SR cases, and they made some astonishing discoveries.

Nearly 7 per cent of all cancers involving the digestive organs or bone or soft tissues spontaneously cure themselves. Some 12 per cent of cancers involving the skin and the lymph nodes heal themselves, and an astounding 19 per cent of cancers - nearly one in five - involving the genitourinary organs undergo spontaneous cures. Some are rare conditions such as Addison’s disease (adrenal-gland breakdown), but even common ones such as hypothyroidism or blocked arteries can ‘miraculously’ disappear.

In the 1960s, doctors were surprised to discover that up to 90 per cent of patients with ‘early diabetes’ were completely clear two years later - with no treatment at all. And most of the patients hadn’t lost any weight either.

WDDTY researchers found that one in 20 cases of infectious and parasitic diseases, problems of the circulatory and endocrine systems, and metabolic and immune disorders can self-heal, as does one in every 25 nervous system or mental disorders, and problems involving the sense organs.

What’s more, the number of cases is probably vastly underreported. One Dutch study found little difficulty in finding SR cases, raising the question of “whether the phenomenon of SR is as rare as is reported in the literature”.

The WDDTY report also reveals the powerful role the mind plays in the spontaneous reversal of illness. Perhaps the best-known and most dramatic example of mind-over-matter was the case of ‘Mr Wright’, whose terminal cancer was completely cured - twice - by nothing more than his belief in the treatment. On one occasion his physician injected water into his veins, telling him that it was an amazing new cancer cure. His belief in his physician’s words was enough for the cancer to disappear.

Although extreme, it’s just one instance of the so-called ‘placebo effect’, where belief in a medicine is enough to cure, which is only now becoming understood through the burgeoning new science of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI). Strong biochemical connections between the brain and immune system have been found, explaining how thoughts and emotions can affect the body.

PNI research has legitimised the mind’s role in SRs such as the so-called ‘miracle cures’ at places like Lourdes in France. In its 120-year existence as a shrine, Lourdes has produced thousands of claimed cures, of which about 60 truly defy medical/scientific explanation.

Other well-documented cases of cancer SRs involve major changes in the patient’s attitude towards life. One researcher looked at 18 cases of cancer regression and noted “a marked favourable psychosocial change one to eight weeks before the shrinkage in their tumours”. These changes included religious conversion, reconciliation with a long-hated mother, a sudden marriage and the death of a long-hated husband.

The report is available as part of an annual subscription to WDDTY.

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