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Herbert Benson, MD

Shannon Harvey

Watch an excerpt from Dr Herbert Benson's episode in the Conversation Series

Director Emeritus of the
Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital

Mind Body Medicine Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School --

“Herbert Benson, MD, is the father of modern mind body medicine. ” - Health Insights Today

The Boston Globe described Dr. Hebert Benson as a medical rock star after he wrote his best selling book The Relaxation Response. The book outlined his research and approach to countering the harmful effects stress has on our body, and was an international best seller. Since then he’s written another 11 books, and sold more than 5 million copies world wide.

Dr. Benson made his major research breakthrough while studying the meditation techniques of transcendental meditators over thirty years ago. He observed they had decreased metabolism, decreased oxygen consumption; their respiratory rate slowed down and their brainwaves were different from sleep. Dr. Benson realized he had found a response opposite to the ‘fight or flight’ response, which was first described in the 1920s by American physiologist Walter Cannon. As a cardiologist he was delighted to have found something measurable, predictable and reproducible and it heralded the beginning of a new wave of mind body research.
"Now we have the evidence-based proof that the mind can heal and it should be added appropriately to drugs and surgeries."
Dr. Benson founded the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital which works to integrate modern scientific medicine, psychology, nutrition, exercise physiology and belief to enhance the natural healing capacities of body and mind. We filmed the mind body medicine pioneer in Boston and met a number of patients who were adding his programs to their chronic illnesses treatment strategy. Diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, autoimmune disease and stress induced conditions like chronic headaches and fatigue are all illnesses responding well to his programs.
“Modern science has shown us that the mind has the power to heal. We should use that capacity.”
Recently Dr. Benson’s work has been extended into researching the effects of his relaxation response techniques on genetic expression. In clinical trials the research is indicating that practicing the relaxation response produces immediate changes in the expression of genes involved in immune function, energy metabolism and insulin secretion. Dr. Benson is the author of 12 books and over 175 scientific papers that show physical benefits of psychological treatment. He is a frequent guest on national and international television shows and his work has been featured in countless magazines and newspapers.

Additional Links

Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine

Massachusetts General Hospital


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