This Video Will Hurt
A detailed explanation of a fascinating field of science and medicine by the always interesting C.G.P. Grey.[more inside]
The Triumph of New-Age Medicine "Medicine has long decried acupuncture, homeopathy, and the like as dangerous nonsense that preys on the gullible. Again and again, carefully controlled studies have shown alternative medicine to work no better than a placebo. But now many doctors admit that alternative medicine often seems to do a better job of making patients well, and at a much lower cost, than mainstream care—and they’re trying to learn from it." [more inside]
Meet the Ethical Placebo: "A provocative new study called 'Placebos Without Deception,' published on PLoS One today, threatens to make humble sugar pills something they’ve rarely had a chance to be in the history of medicine: a respectable, ethically sound treatment for disease that has been vetted in controlled trials." [Via]
The Placebo Effect In Action. "When patients believe a drug will help them, they sometimes heal themselves" (a report on a new study from Columbia University and the University of Michigan). And, an additional take on the Placebo Effect from the Skeptic's Dictionary.
Are you a Gulf War veteran still suffering from mysterious symptoms or post-combat trauma? The Veteran's Administration has just the prescription for you: "Obecalp," otherwise known as placebo. (p.s. -- They'd better start working on an Extra-Strength version for Iraq War vets.)
No pain, no gain, they say, and when it comes to real pain, the inverse is true as well. "We now have research indicating there's a memory of chronic pain," said Dr. Doris K. Cope, director of chronic and cancer pain for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. It changes the genic code sometimes, it changes the biochemistry, and it causes new proteins to be formed." Or in other words, the more pain you have, the more pain you have. (More on this.) It's no wonder, then, that more money is spent on pain relief than any other medical problem, and that there has been so much pain research and so many clinical trials revealing such painful facts as redheads feel more pain, men feel less pain, and that there's a genetic difference between tough guys and wimps. (Much more pain inside.)
What if the 'placebo effect' is as unreal as a sugar pill? Danish researchers who have looked at 114 clinical trials involving placebos found "little evidence in general that placebos had powerful clinical effects. Although placebos had no significant effects on objective or binary outcomes, they had possible small benefits in studies with continuous subjective outcomes and for the treatment of pain. Outside the setting of clinical trials, there is no justification for the use of placebos." News links here and here.