View Full Version : Science Controls for Placebo Effect

28th August 2011, 08:35 PM
Science Controls for Placebo Effect
It is no wonder that researchers want to parse out any psychological component relative to testing new drugs and procedures - they are, afterall, only interested in the physical/chemical results of the tests. Yet -
I recently read an article in Nature magazine about the properties, especially the surface properties, of water. In setting up their test results the scientists referred to two already established facts; 1) that water cannot be made denser (I forgot the term) and 2) that water does not have 'memory'. The article states that this 'memory' notion is the foundation of homeopathy and so this pseudo-science is scientifically debunked.
Nevertheless the article admits that homeopathy is still a popular alternative medicine.
Then I came across an article in the 11Aug2011 issue of Nature titled “Why Fake It: How ‘Sham’ Brain Surgery Could Be Killing Off Valuable Therapies For Parkinson’s Disease”. Briefly, the article describes a procedure whereby a biochemical agent is injected via a burr hole in the skull into a specific area of the brain. This is not a new procedure (although the biochemical agents have varied over the years) so patients who have been administered this therapy can be evaluated for efficacy over a considerable period of time.
The problem is; when the placebo effect is controlled for (i.e. patients received the treatment [got a hole bored in their skull and a saline solution] but not the biochemical agent - the control group) there was no statistical difference between the control group and the patients who DID receive the biochemical agent, and so the results were deemed null, thereby taking the treatment off the effective therapies list.
Comes Perry Cohen, who leads a network of patient activists called the Parkinson Pipeline Project, and delivers this anecdote: (quoting from the article) “He [Cohen] offers the story of Tom Intili, who had had Parkinson’s for 10 years when, at the age of 50, he signed on to the double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of neurturin [the biochemical agent]. At first, Intili improved dramatically. But when the results were unblinded, he learned that he had received the sham. His condition plummeted, leaving him more debilitated than he had been before the trial. “We just don’t know what the psychological effects of unblinding are.””
Cohen further argues, “I don’t want to subtract out the placebo effect - I want to keep it, because in real life it’s part of the treatment.”
So. Even in the revered and august journal Nature, the value of the placebo effect is being scrutinized. I would venture to guess that the science of medicine began with only the grace of the placebo effect to urge it forward. Certainly ‘cupping’, or the letting of blood by the knife, and the taking of blood by leaches, had no scientifically valid therapeutic value; yet it seemed to work. The practice would not have been popular if at least it didn’t appear so.
What does all this tell us? It tells us that BELIEF plays a huge role in the faith of our physical system. Perhaps the more assuredly we believe in our continued health, the better our chances of being healthy and whole. I know for myself that when I FEAR for my health, the body responds accordingly and I suffer symptoms of disease only later to learn, from a doctor, I have nothing to worry about (apart from the flu or the like). I’m ok. This is why I hardly ever go to a doctor because I know beforehand it’s just a waste of time and money lol. (I hate that the doctor visit is a necessary price that must be paid for something so mundane as an antibiotic!)
The placebo effect is true magic that can work for us.....

28th August 2011, 09:08 PM
homeopathy isn't placebo effect, at least not more to a degree that mainstream medicine's therapies is, too

29th August 2011, 02:19 PM
When a homeopathic practitioner takes a solution in a vial and pounds it in his palm a hundred times, then divides it and replenishes the vial with pure water, then pounds it again in his palm another hundred times, divides and replenishes; this process being repeated over and over again until it can be said that hardly a molecule can be found of the original solution in the final vial - science cannot find anything different analyzing the end product from pure water. I was only reporting the conclusions of science regarding the homeopathic therapy. 
Personally, I do not discount the energy, effort and sacred trust and duty of the practitioner and its influence on the medicine thus derived. But where do we divide the result between the physician and the patient? Both expect success. Which is the stronger component - the deliverer or the receiver of the homeopathic therapy?

Actually, I meant to defend homeopathy. The post was just getting too long to keep on yappin’.

My respects, Volgerle


29th August 2011, 02:59 PM
also check out the nocebo effect.

it's equally as effective.

thanks for the thread!

29th August 2011, 04:11 PM
Yea!!! Read it.


29th August 2011, 04:26 PM
Yea!!! Read it.


cool article. Thanks!