She is recognized as one of metro Detroit’s best doctors, but when it comes to healing, Dr. Earlexia Norwood is fueled by faith.
“I believe in the ability of God to work within people,” said Norwood, who works with the Henry Ford Medical Center in Troy. “My practice could not exist without prayer.”
Norwood prays daily. Sometimes before seeing patients. Occasionally, with them.
“I ask God to give me the wisdom and understanding I need to … uncover anything that is hidden,” she said. “For patients going through a terminal illness, I pray because I know they need more than the science and medicine I can provide.”
For believers like Norwood, faith in a higher power long has been considered a healing balm. But now, a growing body of medical research — including a recent Wayne State University study — is validating the power of faith….
There was a time when medicine and faith had clear borders. Doctors treated the physical body and religious leaders fed the spiritual body. But thanks to a growing body of research and the increased presence of health practitioners whose faith is part of their practice, religion and medicine are joining forces in ways far beyond the hospital chaplain.
“There is a fair amount of science to substantiate the power of prayer, belief and spirituality to positively impact the healing process,” said Dr. Michael Seidman, medical director of the Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine at the Henry Ford Health System. “It matters not what you believe. It matters that you believe.”…
This year, a Wayne State University study found that if traumatic brain injury victims feel close to a higher power, it can help them rehabilitate. The study of 88 patients at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan in Detroit was published in the February issue of Rehabilitation Psychology.
“Feeling connected to a higher power positively impacted not only their feelings, but their functional outcomes, what they were able to do. So they didn’t just feel better, there was evidence they functioned better in their ability to do daily tasks,” said lead investigator Brigid Waldron-Perrine, who’s now at the University of Michigan doing postdoctoral work in neuropsychology.
The study used various questionnaires to assess patients’ spiritual practices and beliefs and their physical and psychological well-being. Researchers also interviewed the patients as well as significant others about how well the patient handled daily tasks, such as managing their own finances and going out in the community alone….
“Having a connection to a higher power was predictive of positive rehabilitation outcomes,” Waldron-Perrine said.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant allowed University of South Carolina researcher Jane Teas to interview 135 people who believed God had a role in healing them. The study was published last year and resulted in a book titled “Faith That Heals: Stories of God’s Love.”
“Our stories give testimony to a supreme presence and power of God; but not as passive, hidden in people’s souls or sitting aloof on a throne in heaven. God in these stories is active, transforming the ordinary wounds of sickness and adversity to well-being and joy, using visions, dreams and whispers heard in the heart,” Teas writes in the book’s introduction.
“We’re not saying throw out your medicine,” Teas said in an interview. “We are saying there is something powerful that goes with believing. I can’t say it’s not real. I can say there is a force in our world that we don’t know enough about to discount. I suppose one day we’ll have a nasal spray for the peace that surpasses all understanding.”