For her Ph.D. thesis, Dr. Kelly Turner studied over a thousand people who healed in spite of serious and even terminal cancer diagnosis without Western medicine or after Western medicine had failed. The study focused on seventy-five factors, and identified the nine key factors that Dr. Turner found among nearly every survivor she studied. Her work became the foundation for her New York Times bestselling book Radical Remission. Although the term “spontaneous remission” had often been given to such cases in the past, it was clear that the healing that these people experienced was anything but spontaneous. Rather, it was the result of taking full responsibility for their health, often making great shifts in their inner and outer lives, and taking one step after another with focus, determination and courage.


Here are the 9 key factors:

  1. Radically changing your diet. The majority of interviewees credited diet change as a powerful tool for self-healing. Most recommended eating a diet consisting primarily of whole vegetables, fruit, grains and beans, while eliminating meat, sugar, dairy and refined grains.
  2. Taking control of your health. People who heal take radical responsibility for their health. They aren’t relying on outside influences, including their doctors, to give them the answers. Instead they see their health-care providers as allies and sources of potentially valuable input. They do their research, stay open minded and make their decisions based on the belief that they are the true experts on their body since they are living in it.
  3. Following your intuition. People who heal value intuition as the most important factor in making decisions. They are profoundly aware that if something doesn’t feel right they need to wait, reflect and meditate until something appears that resonates more deeply. Valuing intuition means that they are willing to make treatment-related decisions that go against the common trends. Dr Turner states that she was surprised that intuition showed up in every single interview that she did.
  4. Using herbs and supplements. Turner’s interviewees took various forms of supplements, with the belief that they would help to detoxify their body and/or boost their immune systems.
  5. Releasing suppressed emotions. Many interviewees believed that it was healthy to release any negative emotions they had been harboring such as fear, anger and grief.
  6. Increasing positive emotions. Others credited increasing love and happiness in their life with the ability to self-heal. Some expressed that when facing a life-threatening circumstance the blessings and beauty of everyday life were magnified. It was common for people to consciously choose to put themselves in situations where they would naturally laugh more often.
  7. Embracing social support. People who heal often state that prior to their diagnosis they tended to try to do too much on their own. Letting go of this conditioning and allowing themselves to be supported by others was a significant factor in being able to relax and focus on the necessities of healing.
  8. Deepening your spiritual connection. In Radical Remission, Dr. Turner describes a spiritual connection as a “connection to a deeper (or higher) energy, which some people personalise as ‘God’, some call ‘the soul’, and others generalise as a ubiquitous life force, calling it ‘energy’, ‘chi’ or ‘prana’”. Although the approaches varied, many of Turner’s interviewees discussed feeling an internal sensation of divine loving energy.
  9. Having strong reasons for living. People who healed were able to identify and deeply feel a purpose for their life on the other side of healing.

Dr. Turner says: “It’s hopeful to know that some people on this planet have turned around incredibly dire circumstances where their organs were shutting down. Mostly it gives me a lot of awe for the immune system. While I believe that this system is a physical thing, it’s very much triggered by an integrated mind/body/spirit system. So in the end it might be the T cells that finally woke up and popped all those cancer cells. But what triggered those T cells to finally wake up? Could it have been spending a year deep in meditation? Absolutely. Yes, we are in these bodies, but everything we’re doing with our mind and our spirit has an effect on the body.”

In my next blog I will add to these nine factors with some that I’ve personally found to be crucial, as well as fascinating information about how they contribute to the health of our body, minds and spirit.

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