Please prescribe me a Placebo Rx

Written by on June 26, 2019 in Home Remedies, research with 1 Comment
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The facts about Placebos continue to get weirder. For example, we now know that if the treatment is delivered by someone you have in confidence in, the placebo effect is magnified. So it seems that the bedside manner of your doctor is actually very important. What could the latest placebo science mean for rosacea sufferers? Read on to find out.

So where do we head with our increased appreciation of the placebo effect? Might we be able to engineer placebo inspired treatment regimes that help rosacea sufferers? Could you be persuaded to ask your doctor for a bottle of Placebo Rx?

The Promise of Placebo

It seems that more fully understanding the placebo science does offer some promise as a way to positively influence how rosacea sufferers cope with the stress of life and also as a way to treat some symptoms.

NYTimes on Placebo

What if the Placebo Effect Isn’t a Trick?

By Gary Greenberg

New research is zeroing in on a biochemical basis for the placebo effect — possibly opening a Pandora’s box for Western medicine.

Give people a sugar pill, they have shown, and those patients — especially if they have one of the chronic, stress-related conditions that register the strongest placebo effects, and if the treatment is delivered by someone in whom they have confidence — will improve.

Some of the weird placebo effects;

  • Tell someone a normal milkshake is a diet beverage, and his gut will respond as if the drink were low fat.
  • Take athletes to the top of the Alps, put them on exercise machines and hook them to an oxygen tank, and they will perform better than when they are breathing room air — even if room air is all that’s in the tank.
  • Wake a patient from surgery and tell him you’ve done an arthroscopic repair, and his knee gets better even if all you did was knock him out and put a couple of incisions in his skin.
  • Give a drug a fancy name, and it works better than if you don’t.

And it gets even weirder. Even if the patients knows the treatment is fake

You don’t even have to deceive the patients.

You can hand a patient with irritable bowel syndrome a sugar pill, identify it as such and tell her that sugar pills are known to be effective when used as placebos, and she will get better, especially if you take the time to deliver that message with warmth and close attention

Is placebo for real?

Researchers are starting to narrow down what is behind the placebo effect.

Kaptchuk and his colleagues have begun to elucidate an ensemble of biochemical processes that may finally account for how placebos work and why they are more effective for some people, and some disorders, than others.

The molecules, in other words, appear to be emerging.

COMT and rs4860

The article discusses some research that links a part of our DNA, rs4860 to the production of an enzyme called COMT. It seems to be that if you have low levels of COMT, you are more sensitive to how well you interact with your doctor, and this may strongly influence the effect any inactive placebo.

Double Blind Placebo Controlled Gold Standard?

It makes sense that we must now question whether the gold standard for testing whether a drug works – having separate arms of a trial where neither participant nor practitioner know for sure who is getting the active molecule, is a fair test.

It suggests that placebo and drug do not involve separate processes, one psychological and the other physical, that add up to the overall effectiveness of the treatment; rather, they may both operate on the same biochemical pathway — the one governed in part by the COMT gene.

Watch This Space

So Placebo `treatments’ look to be a real possibility in some small treatment areas, most interestingly stress related conditions. Could inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea also be targetted?  Watch this space to see what develops.

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Read more about: Home Remedies, research

About the Author

About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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1 Reader Comment

  1. ” I don’t even care about these findings. What matters to me is that I have a doctor who is thorough, knowledgeable and compassionate. So many aren’t. I’ve also noticed that many of my doctors act like they are sick or depressed which affects MY treatment.”

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