Is it really possible to feel better simply by taking a sugar pill or receiving fake acupuncture, shamsurgery or another non active treatment? If you believe it is, then absolutely, yes.
The placebo effect has been demonstrated in countless studies published in prestigious medical journals, and much to the drug companies’ chagrin, placebos often work better than expensive and side-effect ridden drugs and surgeries.
How can this be?
How Does the Placebo Effect Work?
The science of epigenetics is now beginning to explain scenarios like placebo effect and spontaneous healing, which lacked a scientific basis until now.
Epigenetics literally means “above the genes.” And what is above the genes?
One of the scientists on the forefront of mind-body biology is Bruce Lipton. Thanks to Dr. Lipton and other leading voices, the power of your mind is finally gaining the attention it deserves.
Your mind has the power to create or cure disease because your thoughts affect the expression of your genes. Today’s “New Biology” is overlapping with consciousness science and quantum physics, and it’s showing us that we have masterful control over our own lives, including how we feel pain, depression, anxiety and even our ability to overcome diseases like cancer.
Many illnesses, from Parkinson’s disease to irritable bowel syndrome, have been proven to improve after placebo pills and treatments. The jury is still out on whether the practice of taking a sugar pill or simply going through the ritual of treatment is what’s causing the beneficial responses … but either way studies show that if you think you’re receiving a treatment, and you expect that treatment to work, it often does.
As the above article in Scientific American shared:
“In recent decades reports have confirmed the efficacy of various sham treatments in nearly all areas of medicine. Placebos have helped alleviate pain, depression, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, inflammatory disorders and even cancer.
Placebo effects can arise not only from a conscious belief in a drug but also from subconscious associations between recovery and the experience of being treated—from the pinch of a shot to a doctor’s white coat. Such subliminal conditioning can control bodily processes of which we are unaware, such as immune responses and the release of hormones.”
The Placebo Effect Has Been Working for Decades
That the placebo effect works to relieve symptoms and disease is not new … although it is only recently – due to increasing failed trials among drug companies – that public health agencies are being forced to face this elephant in the room.
But it was nearly 50 years ago, in 1955, that anesthetist Henry Beecher’s paper “The Powerful Placebo” was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. This was the first to bring up the very real fact that simply taking a pill or receiving treatment (even if it was “fake”) could prompt healing changes.
As Wired Magazine reported, it was after this paper was published that the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act was amended to require drug trials to use placebo control groups. The “double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial,” which is still used as the gold standard today, was a result of Henry Beecher’s work.
“Today, to win FDA approval, a new medication must beat placebo in at least two authenticated trials,” Wired Magazine reports.
The Antidepressant Scam
Unfortunately, there are many drugs and treatments on the market today that work no better than placebo, yet expose patients to serious side effects. Among the most problematic and blatant are antidepressants. As written in Wired:
“The blockbuster success of mood drugs in the ’80s and ’90s emboldened Big Pharma to promote remedies for a growing panoply of disorders that are intimately related to higher brain function. By attempting to dominate the central nervous system, Big Pharma gambled its future on treating ailments that have turned out to be particularly susceptible to the placebo effect.”
Every year, 230 million prescriptions for antidepressants are filled, making them one of the most prescribed drugs in the United States. The psychiatric industry itself is a $500 billion industry — not bad for an enterprise that offers little in the way of cures.
Antidepressant drugs have been proven to be no more effective than sugar pills. Some studies have even found that sugar pills may produce better results than antidepressants!
Personally, I believe the reason for this astounding finding is that both pills work via the placebo effect, but the sugar pills produce far fewer detrimental side effects.
Every time a new study about the efficacy of antidepressants hits the journals, we see antidepressants plunge further into the abyss.
One study that is hot off the press in the January 2010 issue of JAMA concludes that there is little evidence that SSRIs (a popular group of antidepressants that includes Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and others) have any benefit to people with mild to moderate depression, and that they work no better than a placebo.
That means that SSRIs are 33 percent effective, just like a sugar pill.
Similarly, in 2008, a meta-analysis published in PLoS Medicine concluded that the difference between antidepressants and placebo pills is very small — and that both are ineffective for most depressed patients. Only the most severely depressed showed any response to antidepressants at all, and that response was quite minimal.
The article states:
“Given these results, the researchers conclude that there is little reason to prescribe new-generation antidepressant medications to any but the most severely depressed patients unless alternative treatments have been ineffective.”
Again, these are not new revelations.
Back in 2002, a meta-analysis of published clinical trials indicated that 75 percent of the response to antidepressants could be duplicated by placebo.
Many antidepressants may actually make your “mental illness” worse, because when your body doesn’t feel good, your mood crashes along with it.
Knee Surgery: Another Classic Placebo Effect
Outside of antidepressants, one of the most glaring examples of the power of the placebo effect was published in the classic New England Journal of Medicine knee surgery study.
This was, without question, one of the most amazing studies I have ever seen published, as it definitely proves the power of your mind in healing.
It was published in one of the most well-respected medical journals on the planet and was a double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial performed at some of the top U.S. hospitals.
What did the results show? That most knee surgery results in a $3-billion hoax in the United States. It is not actually the surgery itself that is responsible for the improvement, but rather is the placebo effect. More precisely, it’s the ability of your brain to produce healing.
Research by Ted J. Kaptchuk, a Harvard medical professor, supports this theory, and goes a step further saying that the more extensive a treatment, the greater the placebo effect may be.
“… The bigger and more complicated the ritual, the greater the placebo effect. Surgery and medical devices often produce a bigger placebo effect than a pill because expectations for a cure are higher,” he told Forbes.
How to Use the Placebo Effect in Your Own Life
Folks, the placebo effect is REAL.
And when I say that, I mean that if you believe you will benefit from something, you will. And the more you focus your intention on this, the more you’ll find that you can manifest nearly any result you desire.
But there is one caveat: you must resolve any emotional blocks that are standing in your way first.
For example, this could be disbelief that the pain or illness will go away, resentment that you have the pain, or even an unconscious desire to keep the pain or disease because of the extra attention you gain from it.
As Dr. Bruce Lipton said in my interview with him:
“A lot of people use the energy psychology just like a drug. ‘Oh, you’ve got a pain here. If I do this, you can get rid of the pain.’ But here’s the problem. A symptom is not generally the problem. A symptom is a reflection of a problem.”
So the pain or symptoms are not what you should focus on relieving. Instead, you must get to the root of the problem, which started in your mind. If you simply relieve your pain without addressing the related emotional conflict, your body will manifest another ache, pain or illness to tell you that there’s a problem with your system.
This is a new way of thinking about healing for most people. But if you look at it in terms of energy — pain is energy, and your mind is also energy — you can see how one directly influences the other.
Emotional Freedom Technique/Meridian Tapping Technique (EFT/MTT) is an extremely powerful tool that you can use to get to the root of your emotional conflicts, and to release them.
EFT is a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years, but without the invasiveness of needles. Instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians on your head and chest while you think about your specific problem — whether it is a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, etc. — and voice positive affirmations.
I highly suggest that you explore this healing modality for yourself, and if you have an especially traumatic, complex or deep-seated emotional challenge to overcome that you find an EFT therapist to guide you.