Hour of Power Canada

The Nocebo Effect

“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”

– James 3:3-5

Yesterday, we talked about the placebo effect and how when we are expecting to feel better because we’re treating an issue or an illness, we often do, even if we’re not receiving anything to actively help it. Interestingly, the opposite is also true, and this is called the nocebo effect (yes, that’s a real term). 

I think the nocebo effect may be even more important than the placebo effect, because it speaks to how frequently we think negatively about our bodies and our health. Unfortunately, when we do this, we often begin to manifest signs and symptoms of some illness that we really don’t have. This is common amongst students in medical school; in fact, it’s called medical school syndrome, and it happens when students begin to experience physical symptoms of the diseases and ailments they are studying about. Now obviously, the pupils (who are mostly young and healthy) don’t really have these conditions, but because their minds are fixated on them, their thoughts send a powerful message to their bodies and they begin feeling things that are not really there. I believe the same can happen to us when we are faced with a constant barrage of advertisements, news stories, and articles that seek to instill fear with regard to our health and well-being. 

Friend, part of honoring your body means you are not expecting things to go wrong. When something feels strange or unusual, don’t tell your flesh how stupid it is; instead, affirm that it is a gift from God and that He can and will take care of it. In the same way you would show respect to another human being, refrain from speaking negative words about your physical tent and don’t have contempt for it. Rather than being quick to judge your condition, show mercy to your body, and speak kindly and tenderly to it. Although it may seem odd, doing so is the key to inheriting God’s best in your physical health. Your body is a gift, and honoring it is also honoring the One who made it! Isn’t that a profound thought? 

Prayer


Give me wisdom, Jesus, in the words I say to my body. Help me to expect good things in my health, not bad, and to show respect for the earthly tent you have blessed me with.

Reflection


What tone do you use when you speak to your body? Do you bless it or curse it? Do you expect the best or the worst in your health?

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