Avoid the Placebo Effect

April 30, 2017

A placebo is a substance, such as a pill or shot, that doesn?t contain any active medicine. Scientists typically use placebos as controls in research studies. This helps them understand how much of a medicines effects are due to the drug itself, versus how much are due to participants? expectations or other factors.

As happened with Kaptchuk’s patients in the “pill versus needle” study, the headaches, nausea, insomnia, and fatigue that result from fake treatments can be painfully real, afflicting about a quarter of those assigned to placebo treatment in drug trials(see “The Nocebo Effect,” May-June 2005).

But first, in case you don’t remember who Ted Kaptchuk is, let’s take a moment to remind you, given that it’s been a while since he’s appeared as a topic on this blog. He’s the Director of the Program in Placebo Studies, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and a professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School. His work on placebo effects has been a frequent topic right here on this very blog and has been a mixed bag. On the one hand, Kaptchuk sometimes does interesting work, but on the other hand, he can’t seem to help himself when it comes to overselling it. For example, two years ago, Kaptchuk’s group published a study in which they evaluated subjective placebo effects and objective physiologic effects of “sham acupuncture” in asthma patients. The observations were actually intriguing, as I pointed out. Basically, Kaptchuk compared asthma patients receiving “placebo acupuncture” with patients receiving a real albuterol inhaler. What he found was that placebo effects from the sham acupuncture could make patients feel as though they were less short of breath, even though pulmonary function tests revealed that their lung function had not improved, a result that was not unexpected. It was also, as Peter Lipson described, a finding that indicated how dangerous it could be to rely on placebo effects to treat asthma in that it could easily result in the death of your patients by lulling them into a false sense of security of not feeling short of breath when, from a physiologic standpoint, they are on the knife’s edge of respiratory failure. Meanwhile, advocates of using placebo effects intentionally in medicine spun this study as some great evidence that placeboes could be useful in medicine when in fact it suggested that relying on placebo effects to alter physiology could be very dangerous.

There is also a different type of placebo effect…… The mind.

Does kratom users experience a placebo effect when trying new strains or blends? There are so many users out there that rave about certain blends, but when I try it myself, it does nothing for me. Does this mean the issue is me or did they just lie? The mind is a very powerful muscle in our bodies. It controls us. Does it have the power to really make us think we feel something that we really aren’t? Tricking us for the most part?

The studies have been done, but there is no confirmed conclusion. It really is based on a personal observation. This is why I want to URGE YOU to do a review of everything you try not just for others to compare but also for the vendor. Because people’s minds can play tricks on them, it’s important to base our judgment on a number of reviews done of a strain/blend–and hopefully, there have been many. Reviews are powerful! That’s what I am all about anyway! Holistic News & Reviews!

So this is also why it’s so important to KNOW how bodies so as to avoid the mind playing tricks on us. It’s important to read up on something that has good reviews. The majority is usually not wrong 🙂


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