A “Magic Pill” for Improving Health

by Taru Fisher on November 23, 2015

(I know you want one!)

Imagine a drug decreasing by almost half the amount of healthcare utilization (clinical, imaging, lab, procedures) an average person does in a year. Wouldn’t that be worth giving to everyone?

I use the “pill” and it has been a life saver

I use the “pill” to lower my blood pressure, decrease anxiety and improve my mood. Without regular use of this technique I would be on blood pressure medication and probably the dreaded anti-anxiety chemical cocktails. We have a staff member whose regular use of it decreases her joint pain.

You’ve probably already guessed…

the “magic pill” is meditation and you would be partly right. The full pill is something called mind-body skills. Mind-body skills encompass meditation, breathing exercises, auto-hypnosis, mindful eating, the practice of mindfulness, journaling, guided imagery, biofeedback, and relaxation techniques.

What drives the health benefits?

Utilizing mind-body skills to improve our health capitalizes on the fact that stress underlies chronic disease and is a contributor to many other diseases.1,2

Decrease your stress and you automatically improve your health.
“Poor psychological and physical resilience in response to stress drives a great deal of health care utilization. Mind-body interventions can reduce stress and build resiliency.” is the premise behind a recent retrospective study by the Harvard Benson-Henry Institute.

Mind-body group decreased encounters by 43%

After one year the intervention group (of 4000 patients) that had been trained in the Relaxation Response Resiliency Program (3RP) had drastic reductions in their healthcare utilization. The finding: “At one year, total utilization for the intervention group decreased by 43%, clinical encounters decreased by 41.9%, imaging by 50.3%, lab encounters by 43.5%, and procedures by 21.4%. Measured by dollar, reduction was estimated as ‘on the order of $2360/patient/year.’”

The Harvard Benson-Henry Institute Mind-Body Team and me, too!

Is calling for a wide-spread promotion of mind-body interventions as preventative care similar to the way we promote vaccinations as a way to reduce disease.

Get in on the fun and the benefits:

Try the mind-body techniques, below. They are simple yet powerful. What you must remember is the benefit is cumulative. Practicing a mind-body skill for 1 hour can reduce your stress for a short time, maybe the next few hours, maybe a day.

Practicing consistently over the next months and turning a practice into a life long habit will give you life long benefits.

Here are some introductions. Remember meditation is not about religion or sitting crossed-leg and burning a candle.


Breathing exercises:

Laughing meditation:

  • Simple ‘how to’ you can use with friends and family


  • A way to process thoughts and emotions; work out thorny issues. This technique is especially good when you would rather not share what you are thinking and feeling. Twenty minutes a day makes a profound difference

Last month’s Living Well Journal had an article on meditation.

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