Cure Book Summary - Cure Book explained in key points
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Cure summary

Jo Marchant

A Journey Into the Science of Mind Over Body

4.5 (113 ratings)
25 mins

Brief summary

"Cure" by Jo Marchant explores the mind-body connection in healing, challenging the traditional divide between modern medicine and alternative therapies. It examines how emotions, beliefs, and lifestyle choices can impact health outcomes.

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    The success of a medical intervention depends on a patient’s belief in it.

    Have you ever read the packaging of a prescription drug, only to be blown away by the incredible number of unpronounceable substances it contains? Medicine that sounds this cryptic must be effective, right?

    Well, sometimes it is – and sometimes it’s about as helpful as a spoonful of sugar.

    Regardless of whether drugs are effective, if you want to get better, it’s important to believe that they are. In fact, drugs sometimes have powerful effects simply because the person taking them believes they will. This is commonly known as the placebo effect, and it’s widely proven to impact the efficacy of drugs, from antidepressants to sleeping pills.

    Just consider secretin, a gut hormone. The company Ferring Pharmaceuticals manufactured a synthetic form of the hormone that rose to popularity in 1998 following anecdotal reports on the NBC show Dateline that it could cure autism.

    And this wasn’t just make-believe. Studies actually did find that children benefited from the drug. The only thing is, children were also benefiting from a placebo treatment: both the placebo group and the drug group showed a 30 percent reduction in autism symptoms.

    Sometimes, even outcomes categorized as “dramatic” or “excellent” can be achieved through placebos. For instance, a 2012 study conducted by Janet Hardy and her Australian research team found that placebo pills had a “dramatic” effect in alleviating cancer pain, comparable to the powerful sedative ketamine.

    But that’s not to say that the placebo effect is limited to pills. A 2014 study published in the British Medical Journal found that fake surgeries are as effective as real ones in treating a variety of conditions, from angina to arthritis.

    For instance, a common treatment for fractured spines is to inject cement into the fractured bones. Surgeons found that about 80 percent of patients benefited from this procedure – but in the end, they realized it was all due to the placebo effect. Performing a fake surgery was just as effective.

    And the placebo effect is all around us. One common example is the way people tend to like a bottle of wine more if they think it’s an expensive or sophisticated vintage.

    So, having confidence in a drug or treatment can have incredible results. But what if you have negative perceptions about these interventions? You’ll learn all about this in the next blink.

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    What is Cure about?

    Cure (2016) is your guide to the healing power of the mind. These blinks explain the true depth of the placebo effect, how hypnosis can cure illnesses and explain the fascinating, scientifically-supported alternatives to the painkillers and surgeries so prominent in Western medicine.

    Best quote from Cure

    Social isolation was indeed a death sentence, as much a threat to our survival as hunger, thirst or pain.

    —Jo Marchant
    example alt text

    Who should read Cure?

    • Anyone interested in the power of the mind
    • Patients who are tired of conventional treatments for their ailments
    • Health care professionals and students

    About the Author

    Jo Marchant, PhD, is a microbiologist, award-winning science journalist and the author of Decoding the Heavens and The Shadow King. She has been the editor of various scientific journals, such as New Scientist and Nature, in addition to writing for The Guardian and The Economist.

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