The prayer

The prayer



In 1970, a medical journal published an article entitled "Church attendance and health" (Presence in church and health), in which it claimed there was a significant relationship between the habit to attend places of worship and the state of health, stating even that those who went to Mass every week was likely to die of coronary artery disease 50% less than those who did not take part in the mass.

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Faith and Healing

In 1991 the Office of Alternative Medicine (a committee of doctors appointed by the US Congress to investigate the validity of alternative therapies) inserted some religious practices and meditation among the most effective remedies for healing. They were followed by dozens and dozens of studies on the connections between health and prayer, some of which certainly deserve special attention.

Later the National Institutes of Health, the most important research center in the world, operated by the US government, funded the establishment of a facility dedicated to the studies on the relationship between medicine and spirituality, "NCCAM". It was this institution that, in 1998, carried out a research from which it emerged that those who prayed regularly, attending places of worship and sacred texts they read regularly, showed significantly lower levels of blood pressure of those who, by contrast, was not practicing.

In 2006, a study conducted at the San Francisco General Hospital by cardiologist Randolph Byrd and published in the journal The Lancet, dealt with the impact of prayer on the path of healing in patients with serious heart problems, for some of which had been asked some of invoking divine intercessory prayer groups. As part of the analysis it showed that the patients, for whom the heavenly blessing was sought, showed significantly better health than the rest of patients.

According to Herbert Benson, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Harvard, as well as the father of Prayer therapy, the whole thing, it would be only a matter of relaxation. As for meditation fact, the prayer would intervene on the same biochemical mechanisms of relax, affecting the so-called "stress hormones" and, therefore, causing lowering blood pressure and slowing the heart rate (with the benefits derived from it) . Emblematic the words of Benson: "Prayer is like penicillin: Follow the care and work." It remains crucial to point out that it is not to replace antibiotics with a short excerpt from Sacred Texts; prayer should rather supplement traditional medicine, which unfortunately all too often tends to reject the obvious benefits ... "In our time, man has lost the way ideologically - claimed Sir John Eccles (Nobel for neurophysiology in 1963) - The science has gone too far in destroying man's confidence in his spiritual greatness."

A search of the California Public Health Foundation in Berkeley, which followed 5,000 adults for 30 years, has shown, for example, that a close involvement in religious services can reduce the mortality risk by 36%. The same has emerged from a survey of the University of Texas of 20 thousand Americans, whose commitment to religious services would give them up to 14 years more of life. A meta-analysis of 42 studies conducted by the University of Miami on a sample of 126 thousand people, has highlighted that "the religiously active were 29% more likely to survive over the period, compared to the rest of the population". The positive relationship between spirituality and treatment "outcome", in particular hypertension, in cardiovascular disorders, in surgical complications, in endocrine and immune disorders, in addiction, in mental disorders and chronic pain has been highlighted on several occasions by magazine of the Association of American family doctors.

At the University of Texas they have been found in a group of 84 women with breast cancer positive effects of prayer on the physical well-being, not only psychological, of the patients. And the surprising result that it is now Professor Candy Gunther Brown of the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University Bloomington is that, pray for the healing of another person, especially if it is done in close contact with the patient, causes an inexplicable , actual, tangible improvements in his health, improvements much more significant than those typical of suggestion or hypnosis.

New experimental evidence of the effect of spiritual practices on the brain, also coming from the emerging discipline of contemplative neuroscience: "It has been shown that peripheral biological systems with a decisive role in the health of an individual can be modulated by brain circuits on which the acts meditation, "says Richard Davidson, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin. Meditation, experienced in healthcare since the early 60s, at the hands of Herbert Benson, a cardiologist at Harvard University, would be in effect, able to influence the electrical rhythms of the brain, the heart rate and breathing, even on the metabolism. Over the years it has been successfully used in the treatment of chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety-depressive states, premenstrual syndrome, infertility and complementary therapy in the field of oncology.