Can spirituality play a role in treating HIV?

Can spirituality play a role in treating HIV?

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By Eric Nelson | | Twitter

PETALUMA, CA, August 4, 2014 – According to the San Francisco Chronicle, two teams of scientists with Bay Area connections are working like crazy on a new therapy that could provide a cure for those living with HIV – a revolutionary approach that involves nothing less than a complete “reengineering” of an individual’s immune system. What tends to attract less attention, however, are the more spiritually oriented discoveries being made by other researchers from the area that may prove to be just as effective at fending off a whole host of diseases, including HIV.

One of the most prominent is Dr. Fred Luskin, a Stanford-trained psychologist whose early years spent researching preventative cardiology convinced him that increased spirituality, especially the willingness to forgive, can have a significant impact on our health.

“Forgiveness is one of those ways where we wipe clean a major threat to our well-being,” he said during an interview earlier this year. “That causes the body to have more time to repair. Immune function goes up, blood pressure goes down.”

And during a health care conference in March, integrative oncologist, New York Times bestselling author and Cal graduate, Dr. Kelly Turner, continued this theme by singling out prayer and meditation, particularly as they relate to our immunity from disease.

“When you are in deep prayer or meditation, your fight-or-flight response goes off and your rest-and-repair turns on,” she’s quoted as saying in a recent Yahoo Health column. “This allows your immune system to supercharge your whole body and is incredibly healing, whether you are under stress or have an actual illness or are trying to prevent illness or stress.”

But perhaps the most impressive example can be found in the account of a man who discovered that health and healing are not so much about getting the human brain to adjust a largely matter-based body, but understanding the substance of one’s identity as essentially spiritual and, therefore, immune from the ravages of disease.

Before his wife had died of AIDS, he was diagnosed as HIV-positive. Both he and his daughter, who had received the same diagnosis, were not expected to live much longer. This precipitated a period of intense prayer, supported in large part by his study of the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy’s “Science and Health.” This helped him see things from an entirely new perspective.

“Step by step, I made progress,” he said. “I learned that I belong to God, no matter how much the world believes in the strength of evil. I began to pray, seeing my daughter and myself as pure and whole by understanding that we were made up of qualities that God gives, such as love, intelligence, beauty, harmony, honesty, joy, strength, freedom.”

When he returned to his doctor’s office for a checkup, he was told that neither he nor his daughter had any sign of HIV.

“The doctor himself was very surprised, and the test was done three times. Not only the AIDS, but also other diseases such as malaria, abscess, a deep wound, and so on were healed by prayer.”

While there are some who read stories like this and say we’ve taken this whole “spirituality thing” too far – drawing specious connections between an individual’s mental state and their physical well-being – the real question may be whether we’ve taken it far enough. With so many in such urgent need of help, no stone should be left unturned and no approach to healing left unnoticed.

Eric Nelson’s columns on the link between consciousness and health appear regularly in a number of local and national online publications. He also serves as the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Northern California. Follow him on Twitter @norcalcs.

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