Medical journals have long catalogued isolated cases of individuals who have miraculous recoveries or spontaneous remissions from serious and life threatening illnesses. There are cases of spontaneous remission from adult T-cell leukemia (Takezako, et all, 2000; Murakawa, et al, 1990), lung cancer (Hercbergs, 1999; Kappauf, 1997), liver cancer (Terasaki, 2000) and many others.
When these cases are presented, they are always seen as an abnormal occurrence, an example of an individual who has "beaten the odds." In conventional medicine, we don't think of these cases as a reproducible phenomenon, as something we can actually make or encourage to happen.
Integrative medicine is based on the belief in the body's self-healing capacity. In integrative medicine, the physician's role is seen as a partnership with the main purpose that of promoting this self-healing capacity. Currently there are some studies into healers such as John of God in Brazil who appears to be a channel for long dead healers of the past and in some cases has been able to produce miraculous healings. While this is interesting, it may be of more interest to learn what we can do for ourselves to promote healing.
Spontaneous remissions have been explained by conventional medicine as coincidence, misdiagnosis and as possibly involving the immune system. While all of the explanations may have a kernel of truth, recent information on genomics have shown that therapies used in integrative medicine such as diet, exercise, meditation, stress management and exercise all have the potential to actually turn or or turn off the genes for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. (see op-ed piece in Wall Street Journal January, 2009) which states: "The latest scientific studies show that our bodies have a remarkable capacity to begin healing, and much more quickly than we had once realized, if we address the lifestyle factors that often cause these chronic diseases. These studies show that integrative medicine can make a powerful difference in our health and well-being, how quickly these changes may occur, and how dynamic these mechanisms can be."
Beyond the belief in the body's self-healing capacity, integrative medicine promotes healthy lifestyle and stresses the importance of the mind-body connection. In describing the miracles I wrote about in my book, Miracles in Healing, I remember hearing over and over how individuals who had been able to heal used the power of their minds to heal their bodies through guided imagery, visioning, relaxation, laughter and spiritual connection.
There is no one answer and not everyone is guaranteed a miracle. Everyone can heal, however - whether the healing be through a cure of their illness or emotional and spiritual healing through the dying process. Both seem miraculous to me.