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Mind-Body Techniques

by Steven Rosenzweig, MD

Mind-body techniques are based on the theory that mental and emotional factors can influence physical health. Behavioral, psychologic, social, and spiritual methods are used to preserve health and prevent or cure disease.

Because of the abundance of scientific evidence backing the benefits of mind-body techniques, many of the approaches are now considered mainstream. Methods include the following:

  • Meditation

  • Relaxation techniques

  • Guided imagery

  • Hypnotherapy (hypnosis)

  • Biofeedback

Mind-body techniques can be used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, chronic pain, coronary artery disease, depression, headaches, difficulty sleeping (insomnia), and loss of urinary control (incontinence). Mind-body methods are also used as an aid in childbirth, in coping with the disease-related and treatment-related symptoms of cancer, and in preparing people for surgery. The effectiveness of mind-body techniques in treating people with asthma, high blood pressure, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus) is not as clear.

There are few known risks associated with the use of mind-body techniques.