'' . . . a click into my life . . . ''

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Placebos are pills and potions with no active ingredients. They have much to teach us about the connection between beliefs, health and healing. Placebos are often used in clinical trials as 'controls'. One group of 'guinea pigs' takes the test drug, the other a placebo, and the outcomes are compared. It is not unusual for the improvement to be similar in both groups. Some patients even get the same side effects from placebos as if they had taken the actual medication.

The main factor in successful healing with placebos is the belief of the patient, hence the size, shape, colour of the tablets influence results, as does the healing procedure. Anything that makes the treatment seem more credible, such as the doctors uniform and bedside manner, improves the placebo effect. Placebos are least effective when the patient is unconscious or unaware of what is going on for other reasons.

Placebos tell us something important about the mind-body connection. They are rarely used these days because doctors consider it unethical to tell patients a pill has an active ingredient when it hasnt. Pity. How much potential for safe, effective healing is being lost?



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