The placebo effect. Is there a biochemical reason for a sugar pill healing your ailment?
Years ago, I was on a multidisciplinary team of healthcare providers working at a Tae Quan Do tournament at Princeton University. A primary doctor casually admitted to me that he believed 80% of his patients benefitted from the placebo effect.
According to Wikipedia, “A placebo (/pləˈsiːboʊ/ plə-SEE-boh) is a substance or treatment of no intended therapeutic value”.
Doctors for years have been mystified by the placebo effect, because there are many drugs they give on a regular basis which may be difficult to analyze because of the placebo phenomenon. Does that aspirin take the pain away or did the placebo effect take away your pain? What about that Effexor which is given at a very small dosage? Does it do anything or for those who improve, did the medication’s small dosage use the placebo effect to help you feel better?
The NY Times recently looked at the placebo effect and the current medical literature which can enlighten us as to why a sugar pill can heal.
What if the Placebo Effect Isn’t a Trick?
New research is zeroing in on a biochemical basis for the placebo effect — possibly opening a Pandora’s box for Western medicine.
By Gary Greenberg
Nov. 7, 2018
The Chain of Office of the Dutch city of Leiden is a broad and colorful ceremonial necklace that, draped around the shoulders of Mayor Henri Lenferink, lends a magisterial air to official proceedings in this ancient university town. But whatever gravitas it provided Lenferink as he welcomed a group of researchers to his city, he was quick to undercut it. “I am just a humble historian,” he told the 300 members of the Society for Interdisciplinary Placebo Studies who had gathered in Leiden’s ornate municipal concert hall, “so I don’t know anything about your topic.” He was being a little disingenuous. He knew enough about the topic that these psychologists and neuroscientists and physicians and anthropologists and philosophers had come to his city to talk about — the placebo effect, the phenomenon whereby suffering people get better from treatments that have no discernible reason to work — to call it “fake medicine,” and to add that it probably works because “people like to be cheated.” He took a beat. “But in the end, I believe that honesty will prevail.”