Is is witchcraft? Voodoo? or just plain ole positive intention? Placebos are one of the best examples of mind body healing. Placebos are supposed to be inert substances that have no effect on healing. However, if a patient truly believes the substance will help then a placebo can be a powerful treatment.
Placebos work through beliefs. When one believes in something then one's mind sends powerful healing messages to the body. Placebos not only work with treatments but also with people, like doctors. If you don't believe your doctor (or practitioner) can help then chances are that she won't.
I am a big supporter of the placebo effect and have seen numerous cases where placebos played a part in healing. Placebos may be deemed inert, but I think the beliefs associated with them are very powerful.
So I was interested to see another study about MDs using placebos. This one comes to us from the University of Colorado and the National Institutes of Health. The researchers examined a national sample of 1200 internists and rheumatologists regarding their treatment of chronic conditions.
A little more than half of the sample responded to the questionnaire. Of those who responed about half said they have used placebos and 62% said they had no ethical problem with using placebos.
The doctors used substances such as vitamins, over the counter painkillers, and the occasional sugar pill. Some doctors used treatments for other conditions such as antibiotics and sedatives. These treatments should have no healing effect on chronic conditions.
If one generalizes this study to the total population of doctors it seems that placebo use is a fairly common practice among US physicians.
Horray for mind body healing!
Peace and Healing,
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