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Alternative Healing

Neurobiology, the Placebo Effect, and How the Mind Heals the Body

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An incredible show with Dr. Joe Dispenza about his NY Times Best Selling book, “You Are the Placebo” on his most recent findings.   Dr. Joe shares healing miracles he’s observed through his workshops that stupefy traditional scientists.  Learn the two most powerful ingredients needed to successfully manifest and how to surrender into the higher intelligence that guides us all.  Dr. Joe shares how the seemingly impossible can become possible. Plus,  get a book review for a previous on the placebo effect and neurobiology.

Book Review- “You are the Placebo”

By Sara Zhou

For most people, spirituality and science feel like two dichotomous worlds—one that is characterized by hippies and monks, and the other by PhD’s and white coats—but in this book, they collide. Meditation exercises are combined with brain scans, and personal anecdotes are backed by quantum scientists and Mayo Clinic studies alike. A lifelong studier of spontaneous remissions, the disappearance of diseases without the use of traditional medical treatment, Dispenza displays cases of Depression lifting, cancer lumps vanishing, and Parkinson’s reversing, as well as his own story—his miraculous nine-week recovery from being run over by an SUV to running by his twelfth week.

In this book, Dispenza takes the widely-recognized Placebo Effect and breaks down the complex neurology behind it, empowering its readers to transform illness using our invisible consciousness. Long story short, the chain of causality begins with a thought and ends with biological fact, a physical manifestation of what first took place in the mind. The complicated part? Neuroplasticity, epigenetics, IEGs, quantum physics, synaptic potentiation, neuropeptides that are explained thoroughly in the book but beyond the scope of this article. (Get more on epigentics with Dawson Church and quantam physics with Amit Goswami)

For every new thought, neurotransmitters (eg. Serotonin, dopamine) at one branch of one neuron tree reach the root of another neuron tree, firing an electrical bolt of information. When we repeatedly think the same thoughts, the neuron keeps firing the same way, strengthening the bond and even creating a greater number of connections between those two brain cells; this process of selective strengthening is called synaptic potentiation (more about synaptic potentiation here: Thus, your thoughts have the power to change the very chemical makeup of your neurocircuitry.

There are three key elements that work together to orchestrate the placebo response:

  1. Conditioning
  2. Expectation
  3. Meaning

Conditioning happens when we associate a past memory (for example, taking a pain-reliever) with a physiological change (pain relief).

Expectation comes into play when you have reason to expect a different outcome (for example, your doctor telling you about this new miracle drug to cure depression) in which we associate something outside of ourselves with the possibility of a new reality (being depression-free). This belief is powerful because our bodies won’t know the difference between imagining our changed state and the actual change—to the mind and body, they are the same.

The third element the assignment of meaning; the more you believe in the effectiveness of the action, the clearer the model you are creating in your own mind so that your mind and body become more effective at creating the expected effect.

In other words, if you keep taking the same substance, your brain keeps firing the same circuits in the same way due to conditioning, such that if you merely think you are taking the substance, an associative memory elicits that expected change in your inner environment by signaling the body to make the chemicals found in the substance. Thus, the Placebo Effect.

What does all this imply?

Dispenza writes that “if your thoughts, choices, behaviors, experiences, and emotional states remain the same for years on end—and the same thoughts are always equal to the same feelings, reinforcing the same endless cycle—then your brain becomes hardwired into a finite signature. Over time, this biologically reinforces a specific limited set of neural networks, making your brain physically more prone to creating the same level of mind.”

In order to cross the river of change, you must break free from the chains of your existing conditioning feedback loops by consciously challenging your automatic thoughts. Embrace the world of possibilities and new identity, and understand that the cravings and setbacks we face from this change are withdrawals from the chemical-emotional addictions of both the body and mind that will soon break down in the place of new thought patterns.

How do you begin forging these new thought patterns? Meditation, which places your mind in a more suggestible and using the placebo effect to heal yourself. But instead of a pill, you will be going inward to change your state of being.

And a final note to all those people who are hesitant because they seek a mentality of objective truth over its denial, Dispenza responds: You are the Placebo is about projecting what’s possible when you step into a new reality… [and] rejecting [only] your own self-imposed limitations.”


Interview with Dr. Joe Dispenza

Healing Miracles – How do they happen?

What are some new findings since launching the book “You are the Placebo”?

Click on time stamps to jump directly to answers.

  • 0:23 Dr. Joe describes how ordinary people are having extraordinary experiences with his work.
  • 1:39 Dr. Joe talks about the research conducted in the 1,500 quantitative studies that include brain scans, and various heart and energy measurements and how he’s been able to measure supernormal abilities.
  • 2:30 Participants in Dr. Joe’s workshop undergo a meditative state of love/connection to the divine. The supernormal behavior and health experiences observed are based on the amount of energy the participants have in their brain. Dr. Joe explains that what’s happening is the circuitry in their brain is being reorganized. The participant undergoes a transcendent experience where they become more stimulated by the present internal experience more than they ever were by any external experience. They are having a full on sensory experience without their senses. Dr. Joe describes how he scientifically measures these elevated experiences to determine why it maps to the real changes happening in their body, mind, and spirit.

How does transformational healing happen?

  • 8:47 How long does it take for transformation to happen? What are some of the physical changes people have experienced after attending a workshop? Dr. Joe talks about results from a few recent workshops.
  • 12:45 Dr. Joe talks about the type of healing that happens during his workshops.
  • 14:35 Dr. Joe talks about a progressive workshop that involve meditations for those seeking a short retreat from their normal day-to-day.  After the progressive workshop, attendees will be emailed an 8-hour course where they are taught some basic information. There is also an advanced workshop that happens four times a year all over the world. During the advanced workshops people get at least one measurement.
  • 17:21 According to Dr. Joe, a great misconception is the idea that we are beings living a linear life. Our response to the outside environment is based on our senses and believing that what we see IS reality. This reality is being overlaid by our past experiences, which means that we are very rarely living in the present moment. When we start spending enough time in the inner realm and we understand neuroscience, quantum theory of reality, and epigenetics then our brains start to process a different stream of consciousness, which comes from within. When we can tap into this form of consciousness and information then we can reach these incredible healings. We are at our best and evolving when we can get out of our analytical minds and change our brain waves.
  • 23:43 How can we be smarter about the choices we make for our personal health? In the past, we would surrender and just do what the doctor told us. Today, we get a diagnosis and start collecting information about conventional and alternative healing modalities. Because 95% of all health conditions are created by lifestyle, we need to think about unwinding the lifestyle choices we made in terms of our emotional and physical health. Dr. Joe’s mission is to demystify the mystical through science so that people can make practical steps to improving their lives. Science helps create community and eliminates conjecture and dogma. When people understand what they are doing, then people become engaged and enrolled in their own healing.

Manifesting- How to manifest your desires?

What is Dr. Joe Dispenza’s mission

  • 20:34 What is Dr. Joe’s mission? Dr. Joe shares his mission of transforming individuals to transform a culture. He believes that we are more than just our bodies and that we are all profoundly talented individuals. The way we are conditioned to ideas of hatred, competition, hostility, and prejudice leads us to believe that we need something outside of us to change something inside. His mission is to teach people what to do with information so that they can really experience the truth of abundance, wholeness, and leadership. He trusts that when we can teach each other these concepts, then we no longer focus only on the Self.  70% of the time we are living according to rules we set up for our survival versus opening our hearts and living in accordance to love and gratitude. Making choices for the collective good will change the world.

Case study: How can you manifest your ideal outcomes?

  • 27:30 Dr. Joe shares his personal wake up call when his spine was severely damaged which led him to this healing journey. In his first experiments with consciousness, he connected with it and then surrendered into a greater intelligence to heal.
  • 30:34 What Dr. Joe had to do with his own thoughts to create his own healing. He talks about how he managed his negative views and how his thoughts correlated with his physical healing. He shares what was required of him to become more efficient in his healing.
  • 33:51 Dr. Joe describes the intelligence that is involved in our healing? He believes that this intelligence has a consciousness, a frequency, information, and that it carries different levels of energy that is transcendent of our senses, regardless of whether we feel it or not. Dr. Joe explains that if we can train our senses and get out of the way, then the intelligence will move through us. “It’s the same intelligence that digests our food and filters our blood. It is the giver of life. It’s the same intelligence that is causing super novas in distant galaxies. It causes a lily to bloom. It is both within us and all around us. It’s transcendent of matter. It’s energy and information. It’s our consciousness and energy”.
  • 39:19 How can you manifest what you want? Dr. Joe explains that it’s a process and you have to be realistic. It doesn’t involve sitting on your couch and saying “I want a million dollars tomorrow”. You have to create a vision and a future experience and then you have to make choices consistent with your vision. If you don’t make these choices, then it demonstrates a doubt in your creation and a doubt that it’s real.

How do you learn how to surrender?

  • 35:11 How do you learn to surrender to this higher energy? Dr. Joe explains that the moment we try to force, predict, or control an outcome and make it happen is the moment we doubt our creation. Surrender means laying down the thing we’ve used our whole lives to get what we want for something greater to occur.  The challenge is that there is a fine line between intention and surrender. Intention is getting clear with what you want, whereas surrendering is trusting in the outcome. If you over intend, then you are trying. If you over surrender you are lazy and lethargic. It requires a razor’s edge to align those two.
  • 36:04 Dr. Joe shares his own personal journey of healing and how he managed this dynamic of intention and surrender. He shares how initially he was trying out something new, but after enough experiences he had a felt sense of when he was “there” and when he wasn’t.  The challenge is getting to that “whole brain space”. (see Dan Siegel) because when we are “whole” we don’t have to try anymore.  It’s none of our business knowing “how” or “when things will happen”.  You want to have a surprise for things to come in a way you least expect, that catches you off guard, and leaves no doubt that what you produced inside of you affects the outside of you. When you can correlate your external results with an event that happened inside of you, then you will pay attention and it starts to become a skill. The feedback that we need is that ONE event.
  • 39:47 Why are we afraid to trust the unknown? The unknown is such a scary place that we would rather claim the unfamiliar and hold on to our guilt and unworthiness because it’s a recognizable state, we know what to expect and can predict who we are. Joe explains that based on his experience, the best place to create the future is in the unknown. He found that when you relax into that unknown space and begin to create, THAT is when the magic happens.

What does it mean to be co-creator of your life?

40:54 We either live in the mode of survival or creativity. Survival mode is being in a state of stress. Sadly, 70% of the time we are reacting to the hormones of stress. It’s when we live in stress that the outer world seems to be more important than our inner world. It’s in this stress state that we are mobilizing an enormous amount of energy, our senses are heightened, and we become materialist trying to predict our future based on the past. When you are in the present moment and disconnect from your body, your problems, and time become pure consciousness, and your individual point of consciousness merges with the greater consciousness. When you become better at achieving this state, then you become a creator of that process and will begin leaving an imprint of information into the quantum field.

When you start operating and thinking in this creative place, your frontal lobe turns on and we then start to use the other 40% of our brain. When we start wondering “What is be? “, our frontal lobe, which has connections to other parts of our brain, automatically calls up the network of neurons that holds past experiences and knowledge. It then pieces them together to create a vision and an intention. The more knowledge you have about that desired state, the more complete the model can be and the more you understand the outcome you want. For example, the more you learn about the quality and characteristics of those that succeeded in the outcome you want, the more knowledge you will gain. At the same time, you have to let go of certain parts of yourself, not only for healing but also for the outcome (e.g. abundance) to occur. The more you revisit the vision to remind yourself of that future, the more it becomes demystified. However, it’s not just an intellectual process because you also have to teach your body what that outcome feels like. For example, you would have to feel abundance and feel whole before that $1m comes to you; feel empowered if your goal was to become a leader, or feel love before you get into a relationship. A clear intention (vision) combined with an elevated emotion allows you to no longer live in the past, and to live in the future. This daily practice will begin to biologically and neurologically change your body in preparation for that event. It may take 60 days or a year, but if you can start believing in what you are doing, the how becomes easier.


Joseph Dispenza D.C.- Researcher, Chiropractor, Lecturer and Author

Joe Dispenza, D.C., first caught the public’s eye as one of the scientists featured in the award-winning film What the BLEEP Do We Know!? Since that movie’s release in 2004, his work has expanded, deepened, and spiraled in several key directions—all of which reflect his passion for exploring how people can use the latest findings from the fields of neuroscience and quantum physics to not only heal illness but also to enjoy a more fulfilled and happy life. Dr. Joe is driven by the conviction that each one of us has the potential for greatness and unlimited abilities.

As a teacher and lecturer, Dr. Joe has been invited to speak in more than 27 countries on six continents, educating thousands of people in his trademarked easy-to-understand, encouraging, compassionate style, detailing how they can re-wire their brains and re-condition their bodies to make lasting changes. In addition to offering a variety of online courses and tele-classes, he personally teaches three-day progressive workshops and five-day advanced workshops in the U.S. and abroad. Dr. Joe is also a faculty member at the International Quantum University for Integrative Medicine in Honolulu; the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, New York; and Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. He’s also an invited chair of the research committee at Life University in Atlanta, Georgia.

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As a researcher, Dr. Joe explores the science behind spontaneous remissions and how people heal themselves of chronic conditions and even terminal diseases. He’s more recently begun partnering with other scientists to perform extensive research on the effects of meditation during his advanced workshops. He and his team do brain mapping with electroencephalograms (EEGs) and individual energy field testing with a gas discharge visualization (GDV) machine, as well as measure both heart coherence with HeartMath monitors and the energy present in the workshop environment before, during, and after events with a GDVSputnik sensor. Soon, he plans to include epigenetic testing in this research, as well.

As a corporate consultant, Dr. Joe gives on-site lectures and workshops for businesses and corporations interested in using neuroscientific principles to boost their employees’ creativity, innovation, productivity, and more. His corporate program also includes private coaching for upper management. He has personally trained a group of 40 corporate trainers who teach his model of transformation to companies around the world. He recently began certifying independent coaches in using his model of change with their own clients.

As an author, Dr. Joe has written Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind (Health Communications, Inc., 2007), followed by Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One (Hay House, 2012), both of which detail the neuroscience of change and epigenetics. His latest book,You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter (2014), which is an Amazon Bestseller and hit the NY Times Bestseller List within a week of its release, builds on his previous work.

Dr. Joe received his doctor of chiropractic degree from Life University, graduating with honors. His postgraduate training covered neurology, neuroscience, brain function and chemistry, cellular biology, memory formation, and aging and longevity. When not lecturing and writing, Dr. Joe sees patients at his chiropractic clinic near Olympia, Washington.