"And He feeds me and quenches my thirst and when I fall sick then He (Allah) cures me" [Soorah Shu'araa: 80]


The Mysterious Placebo Effect

Scientists and doctors have long been puzzled by how certain patients have been able to heal themselves of life-threatening diseases.
Doctors have found that a patient can trigger self-healing by the mere belief that they will be cured. This is commonly called the placebo effect.
Doctors are finding that many people manage to get cured when they are given fake medication, called placebos, which usually consist of nothing more than sugar pills or distilled water, and then told by their doctors that they were taking real medication. There is no explanation for why the placebo effect works, except that somehow, the patient's belief that they are getting cured triggers some sort of self-healing ability within the patient.

The placebo effect is probably the best-documented way in which the mind is known to affect the body.

I found this one nice article on placebo. what say you? Dr Fariz, any comment?

Placebos may have place in modern medicine

Sat, April 5, 2008

Winston Churchill, Britain's wartime Prime Minister, remarked, "To almost every question there is an answer that is clear, concise, coherent and wrong."
For years we've been told that anti-depressant drugs were the be-all-and-end-all for depressed patients. Now, a recent report claims placebos are just as effective for many patients. So should doctors use dummy pills to trick patients? The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) helps to answer this dilemma.
Opponents of placebo therapy say physicians should never resort to deception. They argue placebos have no therapeutic value and should be consigned to the Dark Ages. After all, this is 2008, the age of scientific medicine.

Henry Beecher, a former professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, argued in 1956 that all drugs should be tested with double-blind studies. This would determine whether a drug worked better than a placebo. Physicians were shocked to find that 650 of their time-honoured drugs were duds. They were quickly pulled off the market.
Beecher carried out further studies. He confirmed that placebos cured 58 per cent of those complaining of seasickness and 33 per cent of those in pain. They also helped 35 per cent of those suffering from angina, headaches, tension, anxiety and the common cold. Dummy pills even reduced the temperature of some patients with fever. And a few patients with Parkinson's Disease improved.
A study at the University of Oklahoma reported a frightening occurrence. A patient suffering from anxiety was given a placebo. Fifteen minutes later his blood pressure fell, his skin became clammy and he collapsed.

High-priced psychotherapy also has been linked to an elaborate form of placebo therapy. In a study at Vanderbilt University untrained college professors achieved the same results as well-trained psychologists when treating psychological problems in students.

Researchers have found that people also can become addicted to placebos. One schizophrenic patient became so addicted that she consumed 10,000 dummy pills in one year.

But not all placebos are pills. Danish surgeons divided patients with Meniere's disease into two groups: 50 per cent received the standard operation, the other half were treated with a small skin incision. An equal number of patients were helped by the sham surgery.

But why had ineffective drugs worked so well in the past? Simply because television commercials claimed they were effective and millions of viewers believed them. Besides, many over-the-counter drugs are used for ailments that are self-limiting in time. So patients will get better whether they swallow a $20 drug, a sugar pill or pour themselves a scotch-and-soda. Tincture of time would cure them.

Sir William Osler, a great judge of human nature, once mused that it was the taking of pills that separated humans from animals. Today, he would roll over in his grave if he could witness the epidemic of "pillitis" among medical consumers. And the host of profit-motivated companies willing to provide them with drugs of questionable value.

The best argument for using placebos is that dummy pills don't kill. And they protect consumers from their own folly. The philosophy, "let the buyer beware," simply doesn't work when it comes to drugs. Too many people naively believe they can find nirvana by swallowing a pill.
They forget that every drug must be metabolized by the liver and excreted by the kidneys. Moreover, there's often a fine line between what's tolerated by these organs and what destroys them.
In fact, even seeking medical attention today is becoming more dangerous. The U.S. Department of Health reports there are 700,000 U.S. doctors and they cause 120,000 accidental deaths every year, or 0.171 accidental deaths per physician.

The FBI says there are 80 million gun owners in the U.S. which cause 1,500 accidental deaths a year or just 0.000188 deaths for every gun owner. It's a trifle shocking that doctors are 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners!. And almost everyone has more than one doctor.

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