Faith can be in a variety of things: faith in a doctor, a family member, modern medicine, the government, food, and the most obvious, God, among others not listed here. But does having faith in any chosen outlet mean that it can physically heal an individual? Many people have his or her set feelings about faith healing and whether or not it is fallacy or reality. Through scientific evidence and personal experiences from many individuals who are on the pro side of the argument, it seems that faith healing is reality.
The majority of skeptics have the most doubt in having faith through God and that He can heal those with faith. Skeptics have one reason as to why they do not believe that having faith that God will heal His believers: they have never experienced it for themselves. But for two breast cancer patients, Claudelle Gladson and Edith White, who received “miracle oil” from a woman who claims that God told her to make the oil to anoint people with, faith in the oil brought upon positive results. “The doctors who have been treating White and Gadson for breast cancer said the patients have accomplished what they would have expected in the allotted timeframe” (Keke Collins). This incident provides some proof in the belief that having faith can heal.
Besides having only true-to-life experiences as evidence in believing that faith can heal, there is also evidence that proves that faith plays a part in the healing process because of the way the human body responds to praying or being in a state of spirituality. The parietal lobe is a mass of tissue that processes sensory input that is located at the top of the head, and it is responsible for several reactions that faith can bring. Scientific research was done to get an insight into what exactly goes on when one is involved in prayer. Faith is not “all in your head” anymore (to say that a sensation felt from prayer is only imaginary) but it actually affects the head. All of this was recorded in an article done for Time Magazine by Jeffrey Kluger.
Kluger gave the results to the research done on the brain when it is being engaged in a moment of faith. “When people engage in prayer, it’s the frontal lobes that take the lead, since they govern focus and concentration. During very deep prayer, the parietal lobe powers down, which is what allows us to experience that sense of having loosed our earthly moorings” (Kluger). To pray is not only an action of talking, but it actually is affecting the brain while doing so. How could just talking cause this part of the brain to respond in this way? Faith seems to go a lot deeper than just believing.
More scientific research was done on churchgoers who attend church regularly. The Director of Duke University’s Center for the Study of Religion/Spirituality and Health, Dr. Harold Koenig, wrote a book titled, The Healing Power of Faith: Science Explores Medicine’s Last Great Final Frontier. Koenig concluded that, “People who attend church regularly are hospitalized less often and leave the hospital sooner than people who never or rarely participate in religious services. The deeper a person’s religious faith, the less likely he or she is to be crippled by depression during and after hospitalization for physical illness,” (Koenig). People who are not even ill have better health when he or she is in a place of faith, and when he or she is ill, he or she is still healthier than the non-religious patient.
There are other ways that having faith can heal other than with illnesses. There are other problems some people face, such as not getting enough sleep or stress. Having faith can bring about a positive result for such problems. In an article written by Sanjiva Wijesinha, by focusing the mind through prayer, the very thing one is praying for can be accomplished. “The simple act of focusing the mind – by meditation or prayer…Heart rate, respiration and brain waves slow down, muscles relax and the effects of stress hormones like adrenaline (epinephrine) diminishes” (Wijesinha). She also says, “Studies have shown that by routinely eliciting this relaxation response, insomniacs can sleep normally, infertile women can become pregnant and chronic pain sufferers can reduce their use of painkillers” (Wijesinha). Most faith stories deal with recovering from an illness through a medicine of faith, but faith doesn’t always heal the sick, but the uneasy or unsettled mind.
There are also statistics that show doctors having a change of heart in his or her professional medical diagnosis. Some doctors are actually starting to believe that faith has a lot to do with overall health. Doctors usually are the ones to prescribe pills to be the cure for any illness, but in the following survey the doctors seem to be prescribing faith. In a survey of 1,114 United States doctors, which was a published work in a popular medical journal, it found that 85 percent said that religion and spirituality have a positive effect on health (Eve Glicksman). It also found that, “76 percent said faith can help people cope with illness, 74 percent said it helps ill people think in a positive way, 55 percent thought religious groups provided good emotional and practical support to the sick, 54 percent believe that at times, a supernatural being intervenes in health care,” (Glicksman). Only 6 percent of doctors thought that faith didn’t have any affect on health.
Besides having faith in God, there are other things in which faith can heal, for instance, in pills. People who are given pills feel like if they take pills the outcome will make the illness or problem diminish. One example is that doctors often give placebos to patients who virtually do not have anything wrong with them. The doctors give these people sugar pills, which will have no physical effect on the person’s body, but it provides relief in the mental health of the pill user. It is merely having blind faith in the pill itself and the doctor who gave it to him or her to act as a cure. A study was done on the mental improvement in patients that received placebos. The Arthritis Research Campaign did a study on 40 volunteers by inducing pain through an artificial pain stimulus. The volunteers “later were led to expect reduced pain after the application of a cream which was actually a placebo” (Bio-Medicine). The results to this experiment found that, “faith in a doctor or a medicine leads to expectation of pain relief [,] which leads to the release of endorphins, the brain’s natural pain killers and hence the amount of faith and relief are related” (Bio-Medicine). Clearly having faith in anything that is anticipated to heal actually heals.
Faith can be an existing factor in providing a sense of well being to a person with several illnesses. With statistics, broadcasted or published faith healing stories, and advertised scientific research, faith healing seems to be an undeniable truth. There is enough evidence that one could submit to give as a reference when explaining faith and how it heals. One reference could be how doctors, who generally seem to rely solely on the medical side of all illnesses and not the spiritual side, are slowly being swayed to believe that faith really can be a remedy. If the minds of doctors are changing, the one-person people go to for an answer to a worrisome condition, then it may be time to consider faith as a cure.
“Role of Faith in Healing Process.” 21 Dec. 2006. Bio-Medicine.org.
28 Nov. 2010. http://www.bio-medicine.org/medicine-news/Role-Of-Faith-In-Healing-Process-16792-1/
Collins, Keke. “Can Faith Heal.” WestAshley.live5news. 10 Nov. 2010.
Glicksman, Eve. “Can Faith Improve Your Health and Speed Your Recovery.”
Fox19.com. My OptumHealth. 10 Nov. 2010.
. Kluger, Jeffrey. “The Biology of Belief.” Time.com. 12 Feb. 2009. 10 Nov. 2010
. Koenig, Harold. “The Healing Power of Faith. Science Explores Medicines Last
Final Frontier.” Innerself.com 10 Nov. 2010. .
Sanjiva, Wijesinha. “Can Faith Heal. Prayer and Meditation Certainly Influence
Our Response to Illness.” Suite101.com. 14 March. 2009. 10 Nov. 2010. ‘