Cure: A journey into the science of mind over body


A New York Post Best Book of 2016
A New York Magazine Best Science Book of 2016
A Top 10 Mindful Book of 2016
A Spirituality & Health Mind/Body book of 2016
A Sunday Times Book of the Year

An Economist Book of the Year

Finalist for the 2016 Royal Society Insight Investment Science Books Prize
Longlisted for the 2017 Wellcome Book Prize

Cure begins with a simple question: can our minds really heal our bodies?

It is a controversial subject. The idea of ‘healing thoughts’ was long-ago hijacked by new age gurus and spiritual healers. But as this compelling new book shows, serious scientific researchers from a range of fields are now

uncovering evidence that our subjective thoughts, emotions and beliefs can have very real benefits for our health, from easing symptoms and influencing immune responses to reducing our risk of getting ill in the first place.

In Cure, the award-winning science writer Jo Marchant travels a wide terrain of ideas – from hypnosis to meditation, from placebos to positive visualisation – rescuing each from the realm of pseudoscience. Drawing on the very latest research Jo discusses the potential – and the limitations – of the mind’s ability to influence our health, and explains how readers can make use of the findings in their own lives.

Praise for Cure:

Cure represents a journey in the best sense of the word: a vivid, compassionate, generous exploration of the role of the human mind in both health and illness. Drawing on her training as a scientist and a science writer, Marchant meticulously investigates both promising and improbable theories of the mind’s ability to heal the body. The result is to illuminate a fascinating approach to medicine, full of human detail, integrity, and ultimately, hope.”  Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner’s Handbook and Love at Goon Park

“This is popular science writing at its very best. It shows that we still have a long way to go in unravelling the consequences of Descartes’ mistaken separation of mind from matter. Once we accept – as we must – that thought and feeling are physical processes, it follows that mental states can have all sorts of consequences on our bodies, and vice versa. Cure beautifully describes the cutting-edge research going on in the fascinating—and until now, often unexplored—area of mind-body medicine. I would recommend this book to anybody who has a mind and a body.”  Henry Marsh, author of Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery


“Ms. Marchant writes well, which is never a guarantee in this genre… Second, [she] has chosen very moving characters to show us the importance of the research…and she has an equal flair for finding inspirational figures… the studies are irresistible, and they come in an almost infinite variety.” New York Times

“A well-researched page-turner…raises questions about the role of culture, environment and neurochemistry in our responses to treatment—and may very well lead to widespread changes in the ways we practice medicine.” Susannah Cahalan, New York Post

“Should be compulsory reading for all young doctors.” New Scientist

“A thought-provoking exploration of how the mind can affect the body and can be harnessed to help treat physical illness.” The Economist

“A cautious, scrupulous investigation of how the brain can help heal our bodies. It is also an important look at the flip side of this coin, which is how brains damaged by stress may make bodies succumb to physical illness or accelerated aging… ‘Cure’ points a way toward a future in which the two camps [mainstream medicine and alternative therapies] might work together. After all, any medicine that makes a patient better, whether conventional, alternative, or placebo, is simply medicine.” Wall Street Journal

“Writing with simplicity, clarity and style, and covering an enormous range of material, [Marchant] surveys with grace what we think we know, and what we would like to know, about the mysterious and troubling relationship between our minds and our bodies.” Guardian

Cure is for anyone interested in a readable overview of recent findings in mind-body phenomena, a reliably enthralling topic… A rewarding read that seeks to separate the wishful and emotion-driven from the scientifically tested.” Washington Post

“[A] thought-provoking book… some remarkable findings, which Marchant analyses with elegance and lucidity… turns the mind-body debate on its head.” Times Literary Supplement

“Marchant is a skeptical, evidence-based reporter—one with a background in microbiology, no less—which makes for a fascinating juxtaposition against some of the alternative treatments she discusses.” New York Magazine

“Could my belief that I’m going to feel better in itself heal me? It’s a fascinating question, and one that British author Jo Marchant takes on with aplomb in her new book, Cure.” Spirituality & Health

“[A] well-researched study of ‘mind-body medicine.’ There is much compelling science here.” Nature

“A diligent and useful work that makes the case for ‘holistic’ medicine while warning against the snake-oil salesmen who have annexed that word for profit.” Sunday Times

“This is an important book, and one that will challenge those dismissive of efforts to investigate how our thoughts, emotions and beliefs might directly influence our physical wellbeing… The evolving science explored in Cure is intriguing and trailblazing, and Marchant’s account of its pursuit is often gripping… There’s a lot to this impressive book, and it has the potential to have the same dramatic impact on our understanding of our self as Norman Doidge’s blockbuster, The Brain that Changes Itself.” Sydney Morning Herald

“Marchant explores the possibilities of psychology-based approaches to improving physical well-being in this open-minded, evidence-based account… A powerful and critically-needed conceptual bridge for those who are frustrated with pseudoscientific explanations of alternative therapies but intrigued by the mind’s potential power to both cause and treat chronic, stress-related conditions.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A balanced, informative review of a controversial subject.” Kirkus Reviews

“To regard [this] book as purely science journalism would be a mistake. This is travel writing of a high order.” Van Winkle’s

Related articles:


  • Understand the potential – and limits – of your mind’s effects on your body
    The Art of Charm, 14 July 2016 Listen here
  • Why would we have evolved a mind if it didn’t have physical effects on our body?
    Innovation Hub, NPR, 26 February 2016 Listen here
  • Andrew Marr discusses the relationship between mind and body with science journalist Jo Marchant, games designer Jane McGonigal, philosopher AC Grayling and actor Simon McBurney
    Start the Week, BBC Radio 4, 8 February 2016 Listen here
  • How meditation, placebos and virtual reality help power mind over body
    Fresh Air, NPR, 26 January 2016 Listen here