placebo effect

Is Placebo effect real?

Placebo comes from the Latin « I shall please ». In medicine it took the meaning of “I shall please my doctor”. The placebo effect takes place when a patient is given a ‘fake’ treatment and does react positively to care. This concept is mainly used in medical research to determine the efficacy of a given treatment compared to the effect of autosuggestion.placebo effect

Placebo effect is not only real, it accounts for at least a third of the efficacy of all treatments. Retrospectively looking at thousands of studies, researchers have shown that the placebo effect can represent up to 70% of the efficacy of a treatment.

What does it mean? Take 10 people suffering from a disease (infectious or chronic) and give them a fake medication (pill filled with water) telling them it will help their condition. From 3 to 7 of them will get better.

Let’s explore this more into detail.

Dr. Alan H. Roberts and his colleagues at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation evaluated medical and surgical treatments of bronchial asthma, herpes simplex core sores, and duodenal ulcers. Using a retrospective approach they studies treatments once thought to be successful but later debunked as ineffective. Dr. Roberts and his team concluded in Clinical Psychology Review that “under conditions of heightened expectations” the power of the placebo “far exceeds that commonly reported in letetature.” 70% of they patients they studies experienced excellent or good results from bogus treatments.

Another study conducted by Dr. Stewart Wolf involved women suffering from persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. The women were asked to swallow small, balloon-tipped tubes that, once positioned in their stomachs, allowed the researchers to record the contractions associated with waves of nausea and vomiting. Then the patients were given a drug they were told would stop their nausea. In reality, they were given the opposite – syrup of ipecac- a substance that induces vomiting. Remarkably, the women’s nausea and vomiting ceased entirely and their stomach contractions returned to normal. Because they believed they received a treatment to cure them, they reversed the proven action of a powerful drug.

The placebo effect shows us how our mind can cure diseases and in some cases can be the source of them. It shows that the body can self-regulate when the person is in the right mental predisposition. It shows that just the feeling of being taken care of (seeing a doctor, or being comforted by a person we trust) will initiate the healing process. It shows that we have within ourselves great resources to heal.

Source: Timeless Healing by Dr. Herbert Benson.