Posts Tagged ‘Health’

Placebo Magic

September 25th, 2009 No comments

Question: What is the most universally potent, scientifically tested and proven healing agent?

Answer: The placebo.


I mentioned the placebo effect in an earlier posting, but recently found a great article in Cosmos magazine by Ben Goldacre.

Here are a few interesting, if not downright amazing, things that have been discovered in scientifically run Placebo trials.

  • Two placebo pills are more effective than one
  • The color of placebo pills affects the outcome – eg. pink pills are more effective at maintaining concentration than blue ones.
  • The form of the placebo has an effect on outcome – eg. capsules are more effective than pills as placebo sedatives
  • The way the placebo is taken has an effect on outcome – eg. injections are more effective than pills
  • The way the placebo is administered has an effect on outcome – eg. more elaborate acupuncture-like treatment is more effective at pain relief than taking pills
  • Brand name placebos are more effective than placebos in plain or generic packaging
  • More expensive placebos are more effective than cheaper ones
  • Placebo operations (sham surgery) for knee pain and for angina are both effective treatments
  • Having a pacemaker installed, but not switched on, improves heart function
  • Being told that your current lifestyle is beneficial for your health actually improves your health and reduces your weight
  • The doctor’s verbal affirmation about a treatment improves the outcome of that treatment on a patient
  • The doctor’s own belief in a treatment improves the outcome of that treatment on a patient
  • The doctor providing a diagnosis of a health problem improves the outcome for the patient even without any treatment being proscribed for it
  • The suggestion that a treatment will help can result in a positive outcome, even when that treatment would normally be expected to seriously aggravate the symptoms
  • Even when patients are informed that they are only receiving a placebo treatment, but it is supplied with words of cheer, their outcomes are improved
  • Intelligence, skepticism or other character traits do not lessen the effects of placebos – everyone responds to placebos

The underlying thread of all this is a demonstration of justĀ  how profoundly mental attitude affects our health and the healing process – both the attitude of the doctor and that of the patient.

If the true meaning of these facts were to be fully apprehended by the population at large, and acted on, our lives would surely all be deeply transformed for the better. But even if the true import remains elusive to most, you can still transform your own life in all manner of ways, simply by adopting the intention of taking a positive mental attitude to life in general.

Good luck! I know you can do it!

I will write more about thisĀ  in a future post.

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