Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Random Question of the Day

If somebody took a pill knowing that it was a placebo (or at least knowing of the high possibility), but believing strongly in the placebo effect, would there be one? Does it depend on whether they think the answer to this question is yes? And if so, why don't people sell more placebos?


e-kvetcher said...

"However, some recent research indicates that the placebo effect may not be real. In May 2001 the New England Journal of Medicine published a study by researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the Nordic Cochrane Center, Rigshopitalet, in Denmark. They were trying to measure the strength of the placebo effect. From 727 studies they focused on 114 to test pharmacological, physical, and psychological placebos involving 7,500 patients. These studies tested medicine, placebo, and no treatment (that is, they merely monitored the patient). Doctors know that about 35% of patients given a placebo will be cured. The conventional wisdom was that the placebo "helps the patient cure himself". However, these researchers found that those not given any treatment were cured at about the same rate as the placebo groups, and that this was statistically significant. (They found that placebos DID have a somewhat beneficial effect, but only for pain control.) The authors wrote "We found little evidence in general that placebos had powerful clinical effects." If the results of this study gain wide acceptance it would indicate that placebos are generally ineffective as a medical treatment, and the study recommended that placebos not be prescribed as treatment. Conventional medicine has apparently still not responded to the results of this research as yet." -Wikipedia

Halfnutcase said...

E-kvetcher, as usual, wikipeida is wrong.

The whole placebo effect is actualy rather interesting. Apperantly the belief in eminent relief causes your brain to send out opiates that dull pain and chill out other psychological responses, and thus the placebo has much better effect in terms of psychiatric medicine than it does in conventional medicine.

The whole point of a placebo is not in order to make someone get better, it is to make someone FEEL better, which they do quite handily. My mother used to regularly tell her paitents to give their kids things like mike and ikes telling them it was cough medicine when they had a belly ache or when they where complaining of various other minor aches pains, ills, or viral infections. Generaly after this the afflicted child would become quiet and tell his/her parents that they felt much better thanks so very much to the medicine.

which, in the end, is what is the ultimate point of a placebo, to get those little opiate centers in the brain going to make the kid feel better.

(this was generaly followed with the warning (provided it wasn't viral) that if the child did not stop complaining about the ache or pain to give them some real medicine, because likely it was something that somewhat merrited treatment if the candy didn't fix it.

But then on, like me, my mother is rather crazy.

Tobie said...

I think even wikipedia acknowledged that the placebo effect does exist for pain control, in which case the question stands: Does the placebo effect help dull pain when you know it's a placebo?

Halfnutcase said...

mom says only if you believe placebo is a pain killer.


Miri said...

I don't know about you guys, but I happen o know I'm very susceptible to the placebo effect. I feel better the minute I take an aspirin, even when I know it's not supposed to kick in for another twenty minutes. Again though, it's pain management, not actual curing.
My father once told me that what causes headaches is blood cells cramping up into themselves, and to imagine them unfurling and relaxing in order to make myself feel better. Or, alternatively to think of flowers blossoming or umbrellas opening. It made me feel better for about half a second, but it made me keep quiet a lot longer because I was concentrating.

Zevulun with a zayin said...

That placebo effect works and works very well, much better than the medical community is able to verify experimentally, can be seen from how many people report being cured by quackery, parapsychology, shamanism, christianity, islam, and the Rebbe's Bracha.