Marylene Smeets
6 min readJan 26, 2021

How to support the great self-healing powers of your body in 6 steps

Using what I learned while healing from multiple sclerosis

When I received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in 2003, I felt as if a constricting fence had been risen up around me. My vision of the future changed instantly. Fortunately, the verdict was not final. Thanks to an innovative holistic approach, I feel much lighter in body and mind than before my diagnosis. I believe that my approach can be applied to any health challenge. So I hope that what follows will be of assistance for many healing journeys.

Cocktail of the best therapies

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease of the central nervous system. According to some statistics, this disease leads to paralysis for one-third of its patients. Doctors told me that MS attacks would lurk constantly. Those attacks, they said, would affect my nervous system more and more. I decided not to resign myself to such a future. Instead, I started looking for ways to heal. With the help of many specialists, I put together a cocktail of regular and alternative therapies. Positive results did not come overnight. The first few years after my diagnosis, I had a lot of MS symptoms. These even included serious walking problems. But I have not experienced any symptoms since 2005. I bike, hike and dance to my heart’s content. A stark contrast from when I had one MS attack after the other!

Granted, MS is a disease with a different course for every patient. So technically, you could say I have simply been lucky. But I feel so much better now, that I recommend the below to anyone who is trying to improve their health. And with that, their life in general.

1) Find the best combination of Eastern and Western medicine

I heard that in China, Eastern and Western hospitals are located across from each other. Depending on the needs of patients, the hospitals refer them to each other. I think such a complementary, personalized approach is ideal. Western medicine has effective medications. Eastern medicine has healing practices. Examples are acupuncture, the Japanese massage technique Shiatsu and the Ayurvedic treatment with warm liquids Shirodhara.

2) Discover which foods work as medicine for you

The holistic healer Ann Wigmore has said: “The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”

To my mind, it depends on many factors which foods are medicine and which are poison for someone. Among these factors: genes, blood type and lifestyle. But on the basis of what I have read, heard and experienced, I know that dairy, gluten, refined sugar and coffee work as poison for me. Fortunately, there are lots of delicious foods and drinks that are medicine for me. You can put together a medicinal diet with the help of your own findings, blood tests, nutritionists, guidelines of Eastern medicine and medical intuitives. Those are practitioners of alternative medicine who use intuition to give their patients health advice.

3) Compose a package of wellness treatments

To support your body in its healing, I suggest making time for wellness treatments. I know how hard this can be. Especially when you are coping with a serious diagnosis. For me that felt like a job for which I had not applied. But finding space for wellness treatments can help realign your life. I think a diagnosis is an invitation to do just that.

Treatments that have supported my healing include massages, detox foot baths and BodyTalk. That last treatment is a holistic technique to stimulate the body’s self-healing powers. It can also be used to ask your body questions. BodyTalk has given me answers on what supplemens to take.

If it is not possible to go for professional wellness treatments, there are many do-it-yourself ways to help your body heal. For example:

  • brushing your body with a dry brush
  • scraping your face with a rose quartz roller
  • doing Mayan abdominal massages
  • rubbing your feet with a foot roller (or a rolling pin!)
  • taking baths with apple cider vinegar or Epsom salt

You can find instructions for these methods online.

4) Visualize your healing

A scientific study published in the Journal of Neurophysiology proved that a lot of muscle strength is based on brain activity. Volunteers wore a cast around their forearms for four weeks. Half of them were asked to imagine exercising with the wrist that was in a cast. When the cast was cut off, all the volunteers had lost strength in their arms. But those who had visualized the exercises significantly less than those who had not: 50 per cent.

I think that it is therefore easy to imagine that visualizations about the health of organs and systems in the body can be effective. In Healing Visualizations: Creating Health Through Imagery, Gerald Epstein gives visualizations for all kinds of health challenges.

5) Try to interpret your dreams

Your dreams can provide indications for your healing. Before you go to sleep, write down a question about that healing. When you wake up, jot down what you remember from your dream. Then note what everything in it means to you personally. Pay attention to the first association that comes to mind. The result can be an amazingly precise indication.

After I wrote down the question what I had to do to heal, I received a straightforward indication. I dreamt that I was doing the Paschimottanasana yoga pose, also known as the seated forward bend. A yoga teacher later told me that it has a calming effect on the nervous system. Precisely what is attacked by MS!

6) Pay attention to the connection between body and mind

Traditional Chinese Medicine assumes there is a link between the body and the mind. It connects certain organs to certain emotions. For instance, the liver is associated with anger. Kidneys are associated with fear.

In Western medicine, increasing attention is given to the possibility that mental well-being influences physical well-being. A research field about the mind-body connection has come up: psychoendoneuroimmunology. This incorporates ideas, belief systems and desires, as well as biochemistry, physiology and anatomy. A growing number of US medical schools now make space for the mind-body connection. These include such respected institutions as the Harvard Medical School.

To me, it seems logical that our mental health is linked to our physical health. When we are nervous, it can affect our digestion. Why could longer-term states of mind not have longer-term effects on the body?

So, to support your body’s healing, I suggest going into psychotherapy. If that does not work for you, I suggest reading books such as:

These books all feature helpful exercises.

Right after my diagnosis, I went into psychotherapy. I had long thought I would benefit from therapy. (One of the reasons was that I had serious sleeping problems.) My diagnosis made that an idea whose time had come. I am convinced that therapy is a major reason why I have healed. And even if it were not, therapy has helped me process my past. This makes me feel infinitely lighter than before my diagnosis — the key reason why it now seems like a gift.

Merciless Gift

My Instagram account, which I use to give tips on holistic health, is @marylenenyc. At, you can find references to books and wellness centers. Some of those centers give virtual treatments. On my website, you can also register to be notified when the English version of my Dutch-language memoir, Merciless Gift — Opened in New York, is released.

Marylene Smeets

Wrote a memoir on how I healed from a serious disease in an innovative holistic way while on leave from my job at UNHQ. For more information: