freelance journalist, print journalist, online journalist, copywriter, content editor, freelance editor, health and lifestyle, blogger Mind over matter… in practice | Christine Morgan - Journalist
+44 (0)7931 342850

I’m absolutely fascinated by the idea that we have the ability to heal ourselves just by using the power of our minds, even in the smallest of ways. So when I come across a study that shows it working, I feel compelled to spread the word. If nothing else, it just shows how much we still have to learn about our minds and bodies, and how they work.

So today, a story about how diabetic foot ulcers may heal at different rates, depending on the state of mind of the diabetic, caught my eye. Granted, it’s not the most glamorous of diseases, but bear with me.

Professor Kavita Vedhara from the University of Nottingham’s Institute of Work, Health and Organization is the person behind the study, published in the journal Diabetologia. And what’s amazing is that Professor Vedhara’s work illustrates how patients’ states of mind – that is, if they’re positive, depressed or whatever – affect how quickly their wounds heal (or fail to heal in some instances).

Now in case you don’t know, people with diabetes are susceptible to foot and leg problems, with ulcers thought to affect around 15 percent of diabetic patients (at a cost of around £220m each year to the NHS, I might add). The ulcers cause wounds that can be extremely slow to heal – some never heal at all, leading to amputation of the foot or lower leg and even death. In fact, four out of five lower leg amputations and half of diabetes-related hospitals admissions are related to diabetic ulcers. So you see, it’s a pretty significant problem.

The study itself was a fairly small-scale one – just 93 patients followed over five years. But the results are nevertheless intruiging. After analysing the data gathered over that period, Professor Vedhara’s research team discovered that the ulcers of patients who were confrontational in their approach to their treatment – that is, patients who wanted to take charge of what was happening to them – were less likely to be healed after 24 weeks of treatment. The patients who were clinically depressed were also less likely to see much improvement in their ulcer in terms of it healing or getting any smaller.

How interesting is that?

The research team has received a grant from the National Institute for Health Research to carry out a second project to develop a psychological intervention to help diabetics with a history of ulcers. But if they can make ulcers heal more quickly, just by changing your psychological state, imagine what else they could do…

I for one can’t wait to hear how that turns out.