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Editor's Correspondence
April 24, 2000

Integrative Medicine: Who Needs It and Why?—Reply

Arch Intern Med. 2000;160(8):1205. doi:

In reply

Rossman and Pugh talk about the abundant evidence for "mind-body effects," but they are really referring to brain-body effects, ie, the bodily actions of brain neuropeptides and neurohormones; these are well known, and I have never denied their existence. But can these effects, although measurable, cure or change the natural history of organic disease? There is no credible objective evidence of that.

When most people use the term mind, they mean thought or consciousness. Mind, in this sense, can also induce physical effects in the body, but since mind is totally dependent on a functioning brain, we have to assume that the mechanism of these effects is also through molecules and bioelectric phenomena produced by the brain. In any case, there is no evidence that thought can cure disease or significantly change its physical manifestations. Of course, thinking can make patients subjectively feel better, but alternative healers usually claim much more than that.