How Healing Works

Get Well and Stay Well Using Your Hidden Power to Heal

About the Book

Drawing on 40 years of research and patient care, Dr. Wayne Jonas explains how 80 percent of healing occurs organically and how to activate the healing process.

In How Healing Works, Dr. Wayne Jonas lays out a revolutionary new way to approach injury, illness, and wellness. Dr. Jonas explains the biology of healing and the science behind the discovery that 80 percent of healing can be attributed to the mind-body connection and other naturally occurring processes. Jonas details how the healing process works and what we can do to facilitate our own innate ability to heal. Dr. Jonas's advice will change how we consume health care, enabling us to be more in control of our recovery and lasting wellness. Simple line illustrations communicate statistics and take-aways in a memorable way. Stories from Dr. Jonas's practice and studies further illustrate his method for helping people get well and stay well after minor and major medical events.
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Praise for How Healing Works

How Healing Works is radically and disruptively brilliant. Highly recommended.”
—Dean Ornish, MD, Founder and President of Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, and Author, The Spectrum
“By sharing his courageous personal journey as a physician, from skeptic to researcher to informed advocate, Dr. Wayne Jonas provides a compelling case for completely re-thinking our nation’s approach to health care. Rising financial and societal health-care costs make this book a must read.”
—Gail C. Christopher, DN, ND Board Chair, Trust for America’s Health and Former Senior Advisor and Vice President, W.K. Kellogg Foundation
“Outstanding! A must read for anyone with chronic disease and the clinicians who care for them. This is true health-care reform.”
—Don Berwick, MD, Former administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Cofounder and President Emeritus, The Institute for Healthcare Improvement
“The one book all national leaders must read this year. Full of stories of how heroes heal when they come home and how every family who has a person with chronic disease, can also be that hero.”
—Retired Admiral Michael Mullen, Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 
“Dr. Wayne Jonas issues a clarion call for medical practice and health care that we cannot afford to ignore. A compelling case is made for a more balanced approach to health care in which the impressive gains from science are matched with attention to equally powerful, but often ignored, processes of healing. Dr. Jonas brings to bear a lifetime’s knowledge of evidence-based medicine, to which he has been a major contributor, with extensive professional experience of how people heal. This book is essential reading; it is recommended for health-care professionals and anyone who is interested in achieving optimal health.”
—Jonathan Davidson, MD, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center
“How Healing Works is a brilliant contribution. The wisdom that Dr. Jonas shares lies at the heart of modern nursing: how meaning, love, caring, empathy, and compassion facilitate the healing process.”
—Barbara Dossey, RN, PhD, FAAN, Author, Holistic Nursing
“A breakthrough book! It should be read by every clinician and business leader. With compelling stories and rigorous science, Dr. Jonas shows us what we all know but have forgotten—that the healing of mind and body are inseparable.”
—Kenneth R. Pelletier, PhD, MD Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, Director, Corporate Health Improvement Program and Author, Sound Mind, Sound Body
“Dr. Jonas makes compelling arguments for a new paradigm in medicine that addresses the inner, interpersonal, and external dimensions where true healing takes place. How Healing Works provides an urgently needed blueprint for a new approach to medicine.”
—James Lake, MD Former Chair, American Psychiatric Association Caucus on Complementary, Alternative & Integrative Medicine and Author, Integrative Mental Health Care
“Dr. Jonas shifts the dialogue in How Healing Works to exactly what health care needs. As someone who works in the daily struggle to make health care better, I know firsthand that this book is a must for those interested in being leaders in health and healing. Understanding the balance of healing and curing is a needed combination for greater well-being. I recommend it to all who seek to help patients with any disease, and to the rest of us who may become patients some day.”
—Scott Kashman Chief Acute Care Officer, Lee Health
“How Healing Works is the most comprehensive and comprehensible book on how and why people heal. It is a masterful survey of the research on the physical, psychological, and spiritual factors that help us regain and retain our health. Dr. Wayne Jonas is one of America’s top docs, a true leader in medicine, who deeply understands the ins and outs of getting well. After reading How Healing Works, share it with your physician.”
—Larry Dossey, MD Author, One Mind
“In the polarized, nonintegrative era twenty-five years ago—the earliest days of introducing natural health and integrative practices into regular care—the arrival on the scene of a healer advocate for a more balanced medicine, who happened to be both army officer and medical doctor, was a great gift. What some of us did not yet know was that Wayne Jonas, then an emerging leader at the National Institutes of Health and in federal policy, incorporated healing practices and traditions from across the globe into his work to understand, bridge, and transform.” 
—John Weeks Editor in Chief, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine; Publisher, The Integrator Blog   
“Wayne Jonas distills a lifetime of research, teaching, caring for patients, emotional growth, and inquiry into this wise, generous, and useful offering. He asks the toughest questions and responds in clear, accessible language. He invites us with him on an intimate journey as he presents with candor and courage his own evolution and the remarkable stories of those who have taught him so much about the mysteries of healing, hidden in plain sight. This is required reading for everyone interested in understanding and unleashing our untapped healing potential.”
—Joseph Bobrow, Roshi, PhD Author, Waking Up from War
“Wayne Jonas is a scientist, physician, teacher, storyteller, and, ultimately, a healer. His book uses a wide lens to examine how healing is not only pharmaceuticals and surgery but involves environmental, behavioral, social/emotional, and cognitive/spiritual dimensions. How Healing Works is provocative, engaging, and informative and encourages the reader in their own healing.”
—Ted Kaptchuk Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

“Dr. Wayne Jonas provides us with inspiring and comprehensive guidance for our well-being. He integrates advances in science and technology for addressing illness and promoting health, along with the inner resources we have for healing. With examples from around the world, he invites us to actively participate in holistic healthful approaches—so essential for our times."
—Monica Sharma Author, Radical Transformational Leadership, Chair Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India, and former Director of Leadership and Capacity Development, United Nations.
"A careful scientist and a compassionate clinician, Jonas integrates the best of mainstream and alternative medical systems and provides a pragmatic and comprehensive approach that can transform how patients and clinicians approach healing.”
—Ronald Epstein, MD and Author, Attending: Medicine, Mindfulness, and Humanity

"Written by experienced military medical doctor and evidence-based expert Dr. Wayne Jonas, How Healing Works entertains us with fascinating stories from his vast and varied experience while providing a science-based way to improve our health without overusing expensive interventions that are bankrupting our healthcare systems. The integrative system he proposes transcends all traditions so is open to all. He doesn't argue that you can 'think yourself better', but provides a common sense, evidence-based roadmap for improved healing and wellness. Dr. Jonas shows that the evidence for common sense self-healing has reached a tipping point, and we need to take it more seriously of our healthcare systems are to survive. How Healing Works is a must read for doctors and patients-for all of us."
—Dr. Jeremy Howick, author of Doctor You, Director of the Oxford Empathy Programme, senior researcher at the University of Oxford
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How Healing Works



Most of the treatments we think produce healing do not work when exposed to rigorous scientific scrutiny. Yet people often get better. Why? How? 

This book argues that the vast majority of healing comes from a few basic principles that can be used effectively by any system—ancient or modern, conventional or alternative, proven or unproven—and by both doctors and patients in their daily lives. The secret: to elicit a meaningful response in the person who requires healing. 

My approach is based on almost forty years of seeing patients as a mainstream family doctor, as a trained scientist, and as an explorer of many medical systems. I discovered how healing happens through my work with patients, as director of the Office of Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and as a research scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and Samueli Institute. 

In this book, I’m going to give you a simple, systematic approach to real healing. Drawing on the most rigorous scientific evidence available as well as wisdom from ancient healing traditions, I will show you that: 

• Only 20% of healing comes from the “treatment agent” that the doctor applies to you—whether that is surgery, drugs, acupuncture needles, herbs and supplements, diet, or anything else external to you. 

• A full 80% of healing comes from constructing a meaningful treatment response, unique to you, which is internal and highly personal, using simple principles and components. 

• You can activate your own inherent healing processes and get your physician and others on board to help accelerate your healing journey, making any approach more effective, safer, and less expensive. And these processes can prevent the majority of chronic diseases in the future. 

I am not arguing, as some others do, that you can simply think yourself into healing. And I am well aware that understanding what stimulates healing or prevents disease will not fix a broken bone, cure cancer, or stop a heart attack. However, the top ten reasons for seeing a doctor, according to a study by the Mayo Clinic, include pain (especially back pain), fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, chronic heart or lung problems, or brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or depression. Almost all of these conditions accelerate and increase as we age, so even if you feel healthy now, chances are if you live long enough, you will get more than one of these conditions, unless you seek out ways to prevent them. 

If you understand how healing really works for the most common chronic conditions, you can take greater control of your own recovery, increase the likelihood that any specific treatment will be effective, prevent many of the diseases of aging, and radically reduce your dependence on the medical industry. How Healing Works provides a way for merging curing and healing—producing true integrative health. Now I invite you to travel with me to see how I discovered this.

About the Author

Wayne Jonas, M.D.
WAYNE JONAS, MD, is a widely published investigator, practicing family physician, and professor of medicine at Georgetown University and at Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. He is also a retired lieutenant colonel in the Medical Corps of the United States Army. Dr. Jonas was the director of the Office of Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health from 1995 to 1999 and led the World Health Organization's Collaborative Center for Traditional Medicine. Prior to that, he served as the director of medical research fellowship at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. He now advises national and international organizations on ways to implement evidence-based healing practices in their medical systems. Visit More by Wayne Jonas, M.D.
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