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Show 1199: The Life-Saving Science of Spontaneous Healing

When someone recovers unexpectedly from a terminal illness, what happened? What can we learn from the science of spontaneous healing?
Dr. Jeffrey Rediger, author of Cured: The Life-Saving Science of Spontaneous Healing
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The Life-Saving Science of Spontaneous Healing

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Doctors rarely study spontaneous remissions from serious diseases. Why not? They are unpredictable, for one thing. For another, they are said to be exceedingly rare. Despite this, Dr. Jeffrey Rediger has found that most of his colleagues are aware of at least one case that defies explanation by conventional science. He set out to learn more about the survivors whose extraordinary recoveries might teach us something about the science of spontaneous healing.

Is There a Science of Spontaneous Healing?

Dr. Rediger has collected case histories of “ultimate achievers” in health: people who not only failed to die of their terminal illnesses, but managed to recover and thrive, at least for a significant time. He has found a number of commonalities in their approaches.

For many of these people, receiving a serious diagnosis was the impetus to change things in their lives. Some (though not all) of them changed the way they ate. Likewise, many changed their work and their relationships so that they were focused every day on the things that had the most meaning for them. Every survivor examined their beliefs, reclaimed their true identity and took massive responsibility for their own healing.

Boosting the Immune System:

Around the turn of the 20th century, Dr. William Coley discovered how to use the power of fever to treat patients with cancer. Injecting a bacterial toxin revved up the immune system so that it addressed tumors that had previously grown unopposed. Although Dr. Coley’s work was ignored for much of the past century, it has recently been re-discovered. According to Dr. Rediger, understanding the role of immune system is an important part of the science of spontaneous healing.

Stress and Spontaneous Healing:

A serious diagnosis is extremely stressful. However, for many of the individuals that Dr. Rediger has studied, life before diagnosis was also filled with stress. Learning new ways to manage it, by activating the parasympathetic nervous system through meditation or other means, apparently contributed to their recoveries.

Listen to learn what the rest of us can learn about staying healthy from those who have experienced unusual spontaneous remissions. We don’t want to give anyone false hope. Why should we be just as concerned about false hopelessness?

This Week’s Guest:

Jeffrey Rediger, MD, MDiv, is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, the Medical Director of McLean SE Adult Psychiatry and Community Affairs at McLean Hospital, and the Chief of Behavioral Medicine at Caritas Good Samaritan Medical Center.

A licensed physician and board-certified psychiatrist, he also has a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. Dr. Rediger has been studying spontaneous healing since 2003, pioneering the use of science to investigate recoveries from incurable diseases.

He is the author of Cured: The Life-Changing Science of Spontaneous Healing.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Priceless information! For most of the advice one didn’t need to buy medication.

This episode will no doubt give many hope, but it triggered my anxiety big time. I have a very difficult time controlling my health-related worries, and here I am being told that I can give myself a death sentence merely with my thoughts.

Also, TPP podcast often reminds us that human connection is vital to health and general wellness, but I feel they could do a better job of giving their listeners useful ways of finding meaningful connections. I am the loneliest I have been in my life. Sometimes getting through an entire day is a struggle. But I don’t know how to change this.

Go to Emofree.com. It is a website about “Emotional Freedom Technique” developed by a Christian priest Gary Craig, based on Behavioral Kinesiology, some Eastern acupressure technique etc. But his main point was when you create an emotion like anger or Fear, It will cause some physical or mental problem in your body. If you get rid of that emotion, the physical or emotional problem created by that emotion will go away. He has developed a simple technique of Tapping at certain points on your body to remove those emotions.

I had hard time believing him at first.
But I did use his technique and removed my emotions stored in my unconscious mind and it has definitely helped me.

Mary, I’m so sorry you took away the message you did. No, people are not to blame for their illnesses because of their thoughts. Even positive thinkers get sick sometimes, through no fault of their own.

One way to address loneliness, though I don’t know if it is practical for you, is to find a place where you can volunteer. Helping other people can take your mind off your own worries sometimes. If you are seeing a doctor regularly, you might also want to mention your struggle. S/he may be able to make some suggestions that could help.

I loved this show! I appreciate the encouragement! Alice

I had an experience in this same vein. Here’s the newspaper column I wrote about it:

Great program with Dr. Rediger. I’d like to clarify a quote from one of his subjects. She stated that she was Catholic and therefore didn’t believe in psychiatric help. There is NOTHING about Catholicism that excludes psychiatric treatment. I wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong impression, especially if it affected their decision to get or continue treatment.

* Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^