Interesting note on the Placebo Effect

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Interesting note on the Placebo Effect

Postby Aurelia » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:04 am

If you aren't familiar with this term, it refers to the way people often improve just from thinking that they are going to improve.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placebo

The British newspaper, The Independent, recently published an interesting report on Professor Edzard Ernst of the University of Exeter, the world's first Professor of Complementary Medicine.

I was particularly interested in the part where he reminisced about one of his earliest studies, which looked at spiritual healing. Ernst described it as "the most interesting study I have ever been involved in". His idea was to compare the results of 'healing treatments' carried out by

(1) a spiritual healer in the room
(2) an actor impersonating a healer
(3) a healer placed behind a door, out of sight of the patient
(4) playing a tape recording of someone breathing and shifting in their chair so the patient thought a healer was present.

All the patients in the double-blind, randomised trial reported feelings of warmth and tingling, suggesting they were experiencing the effects of healing, even when it was delivered by an actor – or a tape recorder. More remarkably, among the patients, there were five in wheelchairs, four of whom found the effect so powerful that they were able to get up and walk.

Ernst recalls going home and telling his wife how he was going to be mocked by his scientific colleagues as the man who worked miracle cures. Instead, it emerged that the four patients who had got up and walked were equally distributed between the four arms of the trial. In other words, the results were an early lesson in the power of placebo.


Fascinating that all four types of test "succeeded" in getting a patient up out of the wheelchair.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style ... 13248.html

Kind regards,

Aurelia
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Re: Interesting note on the Placebo Effect

Postby Quiller » Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:13 pm

Mind over matter. It's such a fascinating subject, yet people tend to discount the hard evidence of it: the placebo effect and hypnosis.

Just think about it: every medical experiment is designed to compensate for the fact that some people will heal themselves without the drug. The results are described as being "above placebo".

A current trend is for doctors to actually prescribe placebo pills.
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Re: Interesting note on the Placebo Effect

Postby David Pascoe » Fri Apr 25, 2008 1:12 am

The whole placebo effect is absolutely fascinating. The effect can be so powerful that you wonder if you should just ask for a bottle of placebo pills next time you visit your doctor.
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Re: Interesting note on the Placebo Effect

Postby David Pascoe » Fri Apr 25, 2008 1:13 am

Quiller wrote:A current trend is for doctors to actually prescribe placebo pills.


serious ? I assume they have them labelled as something scientific and never tell you ? I wonder which conditions and which drugs they "work best" for ?
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Re: Interesting note on the Placebo Effect

Postby Aurelia » Fri Apr 25, 2008 2:20 am

It would be wonderful if we could all learn to heal ourselves by positive thinking or by taking sugar pills.

The suspicion is that many/most of those "cured" by placebo treatment, positive thinking, faith-healing, or whatever have stopped worrying themselves sick from stress through obsessing over health issues. That can include blocking-out symptoms that would once have sent them rushing to the doctor.

That's wonderful with minor illnesses, but disastrous with progressive diseases, where the longer a condition is left untreated, the worse it gets. For example, a 'cancer cure' ceases to be a cure if the tumour has quietly progressed to the point where there is no longer any chance of trying to save the patient's life.

To quote Dr. Stephen Barrett, M.D., in Spontaneous Remission and the Placebo Effect:

"Placebo responses, such as feeling less pain or more energy, do not affect the actual course of the disease. Thus placebo responses can obscure real disease, which can lead to delay in obtaining appropriate diagnosis or treatment."

http://www.quackwatch.org/04ConsumerEdu ... acebo.html

Wouldn't the same apply with other progressive conditions, such as rosacea?

In Why Bogus Therapies Often Seem to Work, Barry L. Beyerstein, Ph.D., sets out "at least seven reasons why people may erroneously conclude that an ineffective therapy works":

1. The disease may have run its natural course. Many diseases are self-limiting. ...

2. Many diseases are cyclical. ...

3. The placebo effect may be responsible. ...

4. People who hedge their bets credit the wrong thing. ...

5. The original diagnosis or prognosis may have been incorrect. ...

6. Temporary mood improvement can be confused with cure. ...

7. Psychological needs can distort what people perceive and do. ...

http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRel ... elief.html

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Re: Interesting note on the Placebo Effect

Postby jazz visual » Fri Jan 09, 2009 1:12 pm

here's a great video by a cool chap called Frezned about placebo's...

http://app.asterpix.com/console/?avi=21083251

what if its all just placebo everywhere?? :D
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Re: Interesting note on the Placebo Effect

Postby David Pascoe » Wed Mar 02, 2011 4:04 am

And one great new video on some of the weird and wonderful discoveries about placebo.

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Re: Interesting note on the Placebo Effect

Postby Kalista » Mon May 09, 2011 8:30 pm

I tend to think of placebos in two different ways. The first is what I consider the placebo pill. People think they are taking the pill that will make them happier or get sick less often or whatever and it works somewhat. The other placebo isn't really a placebo in my mind and that is the power of prayer and the power of positive thinking and suggestion. I really do think that those who are more optimistic in life are sick less often and those who are pessimistic and always think they are sick or have some disease are actually sick more often.
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Re: Interesting note on the Placebo Effect

Postby David Pascoe » Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:29 am

An interesting article that suggests that our brain's sensitivity to dopamine may be linked to how well we respond to a placebo.


Genetics May Help Explain Placebo Effect, Researchers Say


http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-2 ... s-say.html

By Meg Tirrell - Oct 24, 2012 12:01 PM GMT+0800

A patient’s genetic makeup may explain the “placebo effect,” in which people perceive that a fake treatment makes them feel better, according to a study that may help researchers design better clinical trials.

Patients with a certain variation on a gene linked to release of dopamine, a brain chemical that affects emotions and sensations of pleasure and pain, were more likely to respond to a placebo version of acupuncture than patients with a different variation, a study in the journal PLoS One found.

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