Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013, 7:21 pm
Can prayer be helpful in a flu epidemic?
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Winter can be a great time of year – skiing, skating and, of course, the NFL playoffs! But does it also have to bring on the "cold and flu season"?
With Boston declaring a flu "health emergency," emergency rooms around the nation turning people away, and experts saying this year is going to be one of the worst flu seasons, physicians and the public are looking for immediate solutions.
ABC News recently gave a list of tested tips for fighting colds and flu, and ways to help everyone stay well all winter.
Topping the list was meditation.
They cited a 2012 University of Wisconsin, Madison, study that found that the mind can cut one's chances of catching a cold by 40 to 50 percent. The report stated, "51 people who used mindfulness techniques logged 13 fewer illnesses and 51 fewer sick days than a control group during one cold-and-flu season, probably because meditation reduces physical effects of stress that weaken the immune system."
Hippocrates once said, "Whatever occurs in the mind affects the body and vice versa. The mind and the body cannot be considered independently."
Studies are also increasingly showing the beneficial effects of prayer on the body and the immune system.
According to the book, The Faith Factor, by D. Matthews, clinical studies have shown that people who pray are:
--Less likely to get sick
--Better able to cope mentally and emotionally with their illness
--More likely to recover from surgery and illness
The website healthsearches.org recently published a research article on the effects of prayer on the immune system and came to these conclusions, "…the relaxing, altered consciousness, and spiritual effects of meditation and prayer and the resulting inward sense of peace can strengthen the immune system and the body in general."
In her book, "Psalm 91," Christian author Peggy Joyce Ruth shared real-life stories of individuals who found prayer effective in protection from illness, as well as useful in combating disease. She wrote this about that Psalm, "It is both an offensive and defensive measure for warding off every evil before it has time to strike. This is not only a cure but also a plan for complete prevention!"
I keep prayer as an integral part of my "health regimen." Prayer has been very effective when facing illness. One afternoon when I was in bed with the flu, I found help in the 91st Psalm, especially these words, "For you have made the Lord, my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place. No evil will befall you,…" I could feel the peace that the earlier study spoke of, and the dissipation of the disease. One symptom after another went away, and soon I was well.
Since then, this regular prayer has been an effective preventive measure for me - similar to what those in the Wisconsin study found. I haven't been afflicted with the flu or a cold for several years.
During times such as this, prayer can keep the flu and colds at bay. This means we can spend our winter doing better things.
Tim Mitchinson is a self-syndicated columnist on health and the media representative for Christian Science in Illinois