Thursday, February 6, 2014


The placebo effect occurs when a "sham" treatment causes someone to be healed.  The placebo effect has been known for years.  There is recent research that is exploring and validating its impact even further.

        Placebos have been studied in a number of ways:

        1 - Doctors in Texas did fake arthroscopic knee surgery on patients.  One group had only three little cuts made where the instruments would have been inserted.  Two years later, the sham surgery and real surgery patients both reported the same amount of relief from pain and swelling.

        2 - A baldness study found 86% of the men taking a drug either maintained or recovered the amount of hair on their heads.  42% of the placebos did, too!

        3 - In Japan, people had poison ivy rubbed on one arm and were told it was a harmless leaf.  On the other arm, they had a harmless leaf rubbed on it, but they were told it was poison ivy.  100% broke out with poison ivy on the side where the harmless leaf was actually rubbed.

        Scientists are looking at a concept called expectancy theory to explain the phenomenon.  What the brain believes about the immediate future, it will begin to react to, whether or not the future event is real or sham.
A study with monkeys showed that their brains would begin firing 20 to 30 seconds before they received a consistent reward for doing something.

        Another key element is the belief of the doctor or healing practitioner.  Studies have shown that when the doctor was positively enthusiastic, the placebo effect was much higher.

        Since placebos are 55% to 60% as effective as drugs, maybe we need to be more intensely exploring how to increase this to 100%.

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