Cure: Book summary and reviews of Cure by Jo Marchant

Cure

A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body

by Jo Marchant

Cure by Jo Marchant X
Cure by Jo Marchant
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Book Summary

A rigorous, skeptical, deeply reported look at the new science behind the mind's extraordinary ability to heal the body.

Have you ever felt a surge of adrenaline after narrowly avoiding an accident? Salivated at the sight (or thought) of a sour lemon? Felt turned on just from hearing your partner's voice? If so, then you've experienced how dramatically the workings of your mind can affect your body.

Yet while we accept that stress or anxiety can damage our health, the idea of "healing thoughts" was long ago hijacked by New Age gurus and spiritual healers. Recently, however, serious scientists from a range of fields have been uncovering evidence that our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs can ease pain, heal wounds, fend off infection and heart disease, even slow the progression of AIDS and some cancers.

In Cure, award-winning science writer Jo Marchant travels the world to meet the physicians, patients, and researchers on the cutting edge of this new world of medicine. We learn how meditation protects against depression and dementia, how social connections increase life expectancy, and how patients who feel cared for recover from surgery faster. We meet Iraq war veterans who are using a virtual arctic world to treat their burns and children whose ADHD is kept under control with half the normal dose of medication. We watch as a transplant patient uses the smell of lavender to calm his hostile immune system and an Olympic runner shaves vital seconds off his time through mind-power alone.

Drawing on the very latest research, Marchant explores the vast potential of the mind's ability to heal, acknowledges its limitations, and explains how we can make use of the findings in our own lives.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Marchant has developed a powerful and critically needed conceptual bridge for those who are frustrated with pseudoscientific explanations of alternative therapies but intrigued by the mind's potential power to both cause and treat chronic, stress-related conditions." - Publishers Weekly

"A balanced, informative review of a controversial subject." - Kirkus

"Drawing on her training as a scientist and a science writer, Marchant meticulously investigates both promising and improbable theories of the mind's ability to heal the body. The result is to illuminate a fascinating approach to medicine, full of human detail, integrity, and ultimately, hope." - Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner's Handbook and Love at Goon Park

"This is popular science writing at its very best. Cure beautifully describes the cutting-edge research going on in the fascinating - and until now, often unexplored - area of mind-body medicine. I would recommend this book to anybody who has a mind and a body." - Henry Marsh, author of Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery

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Reader Reviews

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Cloggie Downunder

An absolutely fascinating read.
“…in many situations, we have the capacity to influence our own health, by harnessing the power of the (conscious and unconscious) mind”

Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body is the third book by British scientist, science journalist and editor, Jo Marchant. In it, she looks at many different, often “alternative” therapies and examines the claims they make in a rational and thoughtful manner. Many of the results are not just unexpected, but frequently quite astounding. If Text had offered a “be surprised or your money back” guarantee on this one, it would have been a safe bet for them.

Quoting actual trials and real patients, Marchant reveals some stunning facts about placebos, looks at how to train the immune system, fighting fatigue, hypnotherapy for a myriad of ailments, and pain therapy of quite a different nature (will some future pain relief trials be funded by gaming software developers?). Marchant looks at biofeedback, mindfulness, talk therapy, reiki and prayer, and reports amazing results in conditions as diverse as autism, IBS, spinal surgery, ageing, HIV, childbirth third degree burns, autoimmune disease, Parkinson’s and transplant rejection.

She speculates on a different approach to aged care: “What if reshaped care for the elderly not around managing their decline, but harvesting their abilities? We could use that ageing brain to give back to a society that’s in great need…..We don’t know what the message does to a person when they are told ageing is a time of deterioration. If we reframe it, and say ageing is a time to give back to others, it might actually help them age better”

She concludes that “…the vast majority of health problems we face aren’t physical or psychological – they are both”. She also tells us “At the heart of almost all the pathways I’ve learned about is one guiding principle: if we feel safe, cared for and in control – in a critical moment during injury or disease, or generally throughout our lives – we do better. We feel less pain, less fatigue, less sickness. Our immune system works with us instead of against us. Our bodies ease off on emergency defences and can focus on repair and growth”.

All the information that Marchant conveys may be readily available, but her talent, no doubt a product of her career in both science and journalism, is to compile and present it in an easily understandable form for readers without scientific expertise. Readers will find themselves looking at how they can apply these discoveries to their own lives and the lives of those they care about, not just for treatment of illness, but for ways to improve their quality of life now and in the future. An absolutely fascinating read.

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Author Information

Jo Marchant

Jo Marchant is the author of Decoding the Heavens, shortlisted for the Royal Society Prize. She has a PhD in genetics and medical microbiology and has written on everything from the future of genetic engineering to underwater archaeology for New Scientist, Nature, The Guardian, and Smithsonian. She has appeared on BBC Radio, CNN, and National Geographic. She lives in London.

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