The Power of the Placebo by Jeffrey Dach, M.D.

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Jan 18, 2007, 4:38:48 AM1/18/07
to Pharmaceuticals
The Power of the Placebo by Jeffrey Dach, M.D.

When I was a medical student, about 30 years ago, my medical school
instructor advised me to always give medication along with the
suggestion that it will be very effective. This is called the Placebo
Effect or the power of suggestion on the mind. By merely suggesting
that something will work, it does, even if it's the inert sugar pill
called a Placebo.

An interesting example can be found with the antidepressant drugs. In
September 2002, Dr. Khan reviewed clinical trial data from the nine
antidepressant drugs approved by the FDA between 1985 and 2000. This
included 10,030 depressed patients in 52 clinical trials. The Placebo
(inert dummy pill) worked better than the new antidepressant pill in
more than half the studies. This is astounding information showing the
power of the Placebo, or the lack of effectiveness of the SSRI
antidepressant drugs.

Another Placebo effect in an article from the July 11, 2002, New
England Journal showed that arthroscopic knee surgery for
osteoarthritis is no better than a Placebo (in this case a sham
operation). Actually this wasn't surprising, since it is fairly
obvious to anyone with rudimentary medical knowledge that arthroscopic
surgery simply cannot replace the worn out cartilage of osteoarthritis.
However, in spite of this, a half million procedures a year were being
done with no more effectiveness than Placebo.

The Reverse Placebo effect is also at work. In this case, the mental
suggestion of an adverse outcome actually increases the chances that
this will occur. For example, 25 years ago when I trained in
radiology, we routinely used I.V. contrast material that sometimes
caused allergic reactions and rarely resulted in death. My colleagues
were obligated to inform the patient in advance of the possible adverse
outcome, but in actual practice they avoided doing so, because from
experience they knew that the mere suggestion would become a
self-fulfilling prophecy. Fortunately, the older contrast materials
were replaced with safer agents years ago.

My conclusion is that whether a pill or procedure works or not is
determined by your beliefs and the power of suggestion. But then
again, this is true only if you believe it. For more medical
information about this and other topics, you are invited to my web

Jeffrey Dach, M.D. is double board certified with 25 years of
experience in the Memorial Healthcare System. His office in Hollywood
Florida is devoted to anti-aging medical solutions with bio-identical
hormones and targeted nutritional supplementation. Other interesting
health care related articles:
drdrach drdoch drdach drdask jefrey dash jeffrey dach


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