THE HEALING MIND: Does the placebo provide the key?

It’s been described as the most powerful drug in the world, capable of treating patients with a wide range of problems – and it’s completely harmless. It is, of course, the placebo.
The placebo is a benign ‘sugar pill’ that is used in medical research to test against the drug that is being reviewed. Half the patients get the drug, and half get the placebo, but nobody knows what they’ve been given. The trouble for the researchers is that the placebo always produces positive results, and sometimes they are as good as the drug itself. Symptoms of the people given the placebo suddenly improve, and they report a marked improvement in their health.
And now it’s moved from the research environment into the clinic, where doctors are reporting a wider use of the placebo as part of their day-to-day practice.
A new study at two large hospitals in Jerusalem has discovered that 60 per cent of the doctors regularly use a placebo, some as frequently as once a week or so, and most of these told the patient they were being given a prescription drug. Over half reported that the placebo was ‘generally’ effective.
The debate throws open a far wider issue, and suggests the healing powers of the mind – provided it is given ‘permission’ to act.

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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