Although mind body medicine has existed for centuries, it has only recently been recognized by Western medicine, often in the form of alternative or complementary therapies. The Benson-Henry Institute works to help integrate these mind body practices into mainstream medicine, and to provide a deeper understanding of the mechanisms behind them.
What is Mind Body Medicine?
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.
The Institute's mind/body interventions are scientifically proven, and have the same foundation in traditional medicine as surgery and pharmaceuticals, as opposed to alternative medicine, which is not scientifically validated.
Dr. Benson has long described health and well-being as 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, which incorporates all of the following:
- The relaxation response
- Positive coping strategies (cognitive behavioral therapy)
- Physical activity
- Social support
Studies show that between 60% and 90% of all physician visits are for stress-related complaints. Through more than 40 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 interaction 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.
Mind body medicine teaches individuals how to take control of their lives, use their own healing power to reduce stress and other negative behaviors and thoughts, and thus maintain or regain health.