Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. For those of us old enough to remember that old saying, it was our defense whenever other kids called us names or ridiculed us for being different. The truth is, words can hurt and once they’re out you can’t put them back in.

Most people don’t realize the impact words can have on our well-being. Whether it be on a mental, physical or spiritual level, words matter. Especially when they are coming from a doctor or health care practitioner.

Beliefs and expectations are not only conscious, logical phenomena,

they also have physical consequences,

 ~ Robert Hahn, author of the article The Nocebo Phenomenon

The placebo effect is known as the phenomenon that occurs in test studies when the patient who is given a sugar pill in place of a drug actually gets better. This is no more than a belief on the part of the test subject but it has undoubtedly been proven and validates the power of suggestion.

The term nocebo effect was first coined in the 1960’s and is the evil twin of the placebo effect. It means “I will harm” and though less studied than the placebo effect, is every bit as powerful. It has been demonstrated conclusively in prominent medical journals that it has the power to cause pain, illness or even death if you believe it will happen.

One example of the nocebo effect was seen in a study in the 1990s.  Researchers discovered that women who believed that they were prone to heart disease were nearly four times as likely to die from it as women with similar risk factors who didn’t hold this to be true. This was regardless of their age, blood pressure, weight, diet and cholesterol levels. The only thing they had in common was the belief that they were likely to get sick with it.

Per Harvard professor and president of the Mind/Body Medical Institute in Boston Herbert Benson, “There are examples of studies done on people undergoing surgery who almost want to die to re-contact a loved one. Close to 100 percent of people under those circumstances die.”

You may liken this phenomenon to hexing, and if you’ve ever seen the Stephen King movie titled Thinner, it works very much on the same level. The power of suggestion is powerful indeed and if your doctor ever tells you that you’ll likely be sick for the rest of your life, I liken that to a term coined by Dr. Aviva Romm as “medical hexing”.

Then you have people who surrender to genetics. I can’t tell you how many times I hear this statement from people, “my parents and grandparents suffered from (fill in the blank) so I probably will too.” These words literally make me want to run screaming from the room just in case it’s contagious. As I am rapidly approaching the age when both my parents died from debilitating diseases, I am doggedly determined that I’m not going that way.

You can break the spell.

As of this date I am aware of 2 people who refused to accept a life sentence of illness. I’m one of them. At the age of 17 I came down with what the doctors determined was ulcerative colitis. I was very sick and had lost 30 pounds in a period of one month. My hair was falling out and every single thing I ate or drank literally went right through me. The doctors had me on a hefty dose of medications that weren’t doing anything to help but told me I would have to take them for the rest of my life.

After approximately 45 days of what I consider pure torture I ran out of medications. I called my mom in a panic thinking if I was still having so many issues while taking the meds I imagined in my 17 year old brain that things would probably get worse without them. I was wrong. When my mom suggested I simply take an over the counter anti-diarrheal remedy until she could get to the pharmacy, almost as soon as my symptoms started, they stopped. I can only assume the remedy coated my irritated gut and soothed it to the point where things could return to normal. Voila.

Shortly after this incident I had to get my own apartment and couldn’t afford both rent and meds. Here I am 40 years later. Never suffered a relapse and never took another one of their pills. I’m not advocating for anyone to stop their medications or not follow their doctor’s advice. This was my reality at the time and to this day, still a mystery that I am truly grateful for. I can’t even fathom the cost of 16 pills per day for 40 years.

Amazing Grace

In my practice as an herbalist I’ve seen many cases where the doctor has thrown up his/her hands and said “just face it, you are never going to have good health.”  This is basically what happened to Dr. Lindsey Berkson. Her amazing story is proof that just because the doctor can’t provide a solution, it doesn’t mean it can’t be resolved. After suffering multiple tumors and losing multiple organs because of them, she made an amazing discovery that made the second half of her life a whole lot better than the first.

She read an article on how environmental toxins get into our systems and wreak havoc on our health and decided to write a book titled Endocrine Deception. After doing extensive research over a period of 6 years she was invited to join a think tank on the subject of endocrine disruptors and the resulting effects. The mice used in the research were impregnated and exposed to one of the most powerful estrogens known to man. Diethylstibestrol or DES. The research then followed multiple generations of offspring from the exposed mice and this is where she found the smoking gun.

She noticed the first and second generation offspring had the very same tumors in the same organs as well as multiple other conditions that she suffered from. One after the other the evidence mounted. She wrote to the hospital where she was born to get her mother’s micro phish records. This, incidentally was mere months before they were scheduled to be shredded. Talk about divine intervention. She found that in the first trimester of her mother’s pregnancy she was given 2 doses of DES, one by injection and one orally. Meaning Dr. Lindsey got a hefty dose in utero.

In essence, she discovered that she was a victim of the very thing she was writing to inform and warn the public about. When looking further into how DES lays the groundwork for cancerous tumors, she and other scientists found that DES turns off 2 very important genes that are responsible for locating and destroying tumor cells. In her own words she states; “if you know what’s wrong, you can fix it.” This led her further down the path and she developed a strategic hormonal protocol specifically for herself and was able to stop the tumor production. This was nearly 20 years ago and now she is in the business of reversing diseases that were once thought to be irreversible.

Although doctors can and do save lives every day, they are only human and no one human can know everything. It certainly isn’t common knowledge that DES was given to pregnant women over a period of 30 years. However, it is starting to be common knowledge that we are inundated with toxins 24/7 from the clothes we wear to the houses we live in, the cars we drive and the food-like products that we eat. It’s an entirely different world today than it was even 100 years ago which could explain why modern disease is so prevalent in our lives.

If you are suffering from a mystery illness and the doctor can’t find a solution, it doesn’t necessarily mean there are no answers for you; and it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll never experience good health. I would advise to first look at your diet and then turn your attention to your environment. What toxins are you exposed to everyday and how can they be phased out? This is where common sense comes into play. While we still have a world of information available to us via the internet, it’s a good time to take the initiative to broaden our knowledge when it comes to our health and to think outside the pillbox.

In 1982 someone in a position of authority told me I would never be worth anything to anyone. I didn’t believe that for a minute. Instead I took those words and used them like rocket fuel. That statement actually inspired me to do more than I ever thought I could. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can’t hurt if you don’t believe them.

Mari Marques-Worden is a Certified Herbalist and owner of The Thymekeeper. For questions or more information contact: Mari at or 719-439-7303 or 719-748-3388. Mari is available for private consultation.

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