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The Placebo Effect: Mind Over Matter?

23 November 2009

The Placebo Effect

Many of us visit the pharmacy or engage in homeopathy treatment when we’re not feeling chipper… but could it be that the thought of taking something makes us feel better – not the actual treatment?

The definition of The Placebo Effect is: “a beneficial effect, produced by a placebo drug or treatment, that cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient’s belief in that treatment“.

According to Dr Andrew Weil, the body is excellent at healing itself, and given the right environment, will do so. Unfortunately, many of us may have overlooked this, and now associate what ever treatments we’ve taken in the past, as effective.

Dr Ben Goldache sums this up on his website Bad Science, suggesting that if someone were told to rub sperm on their spots to make them go away, and after doing this, the spots disappeared in a few days, this person might go on rubbing this in every time they had new spots appearing.

As well not having many friends, this person’s new association could overlook the fact that the spots might be caused by hormonal changes and / or excess diary consumption, and would soon clear up naturally as the hormones come under control and the diary is processed and eliminated.

Both traditional (allopathic) and alternative (such as homeopathy) industries are big business – they don’t make any money just by telling people to get some exercise and eat some decent food. Therefore, the next time we’re thinking of spending money on over-the-counter drugs or using homeopathy treatments for headaches, soar throat, excess gas, heartburn, cold, tiredness, depression, anxiety etc., perhaps we should remember that the body is pretty good at dealing with these things, given the right environment to work in, and may have started the healing process long before we part with our cash.

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