Placebo Medication Manhattan KS
Family Practice, Emergency Medicine, Occupational Medicine
General Practice, Emergency Medicine
Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine
Medical School: Univ Of Ne Coll Of Med, Omaha Ne 68198
Graduation Year: 1977
Beyond the Sugar Pill
By Stephan Bodian
Every time my friend Emily starts coming down with a cold, she immediately brews up an herbal concoction prescribed for her by a healer in her native New Zealand. Although some medical doctors might argue that no hard-core evidence exists for the therapeutic value of her tea, she usually feels better within a few hours after taking it, and her colds disappear far more quickly than those of anyone else I know.
Another friend, Jason, had reconstructive knee surgery recently and deliberately chose a doctor he trusted not only for his expertise with the scalpel but also for his empathy and communication skills. Jason was out hiking weeks earlier than his prognosis had predicted.
Then there's my friend Linda, who has managed to thrive for five years with metastasized breast cancer. She's undergone conventional treatments like radiation and chemo, but the approach she believes has helped her the most is her daily regiment of meditation, prayer, and inspirational reading.
At first glance, Emily might not seem to have much in common with Jason and Linda. Emily uses alternative remedies exclusively and avoids conventional doctors like the plague, while the other two have embraced mainstream medicine as a significant part of their treatment regime. But a common thread does unite them—they've all benefited from the mysterious phenomenon known as the placebo response.
The Secret of Placebo
Placebos have developed a bad rap over the years as the dummy sugar pills researchers give to the control group in studies to demonstrate the efficacy of the real medication. As a result, the term "placebo" has become synonymous in everyday parlance with harmless but ineffective. The fact is, however, that placebos—although chemically inert—are often just as potent as the drugs to which they're compared. At one point, pharmaceutical companies even tried to suppress the use of placebo-controlled studies because the placebos threatened to upstage the performance of prescription antidepressants.
As it turns out, the placebo response involves far more than just placebo medication—it encompasses a range of mind-body healing effects. The healing modality you choose, the care and concern of your healthcare practitioner, your emotional associations with the medication or intervention you receive, the sounds and sights that greet you in your hospital room or sickbed—any or all of these factors may enhance (or undermine) your healing by eliciting a placebo response.
Howard Brody, MD, coauthor of The Placebo Response: How You can Release the Body's Inner Pharmacy for Better Health (HarperCollins, 2000), has studied the placebo phenomenon for more than 30 years. "Placebo is a change in health caused by the emotional or symbolic effect of the healing context, which includes the actual treatment, the environment, and the actions of others," explains Brody. "Every time a healer administers a treatment or an individual treats herself for an illness, the indivi...
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