April 30, 2012
Placebo over Mind
For years, scientists and researchers have sought to find an explanation for the placebo effect. What many scientists and researchers do not realize is that placebo or “fake medicine” has been used as early as the revolutionary period in the seventeen hundreds. The mind is a powerful organ, in which controls all our body’s functions and thoughts. Everyday functions such as breathing and walking relies heavily on the most important part of our organ: the mind. However, through the use of placebos, it is becoming clear that the mind may have an even greater influence on our daily lives, influencing our perception of well- being. The placebo, which is Latin for “to please,” is a sugar-pill that can be taken in many different forms such as injection, liquid intake or by pill. Research conducted by physicians and scientists on placebos revealed that patients who receives treatment for asthma, irritable bowel syndromes, knee surgery and much more showed improvements and are symptom free which in turn demonstrated how mind is more powerful than the body. The Placebo effect is when the administration of some entirely harmless or inactive drug or pill seems to make people better. It can also reduce the experience of pain by blocking pain signals in the spinal cord from arriving at the brain in the first place. When patients expect a treatment to be effective, the brain area responsible for pain control is activated, causing the release of natural endorphins. The endorphins send instructions down to the spinal cord to suppress incoming pain signals and patients feel better whether or not the treatment had any direct effect. This article explained how the mind and placebo work together in sending messages from the brain to the area of pain. Other problems exist in testing placebos' effectiveness. They cannot be used in studies on life-threatening or degenerative illnesses, since taking an inactive treatment rather than a real one could do patients real harm. Tests in which patients know they may be taking placebos show different results from tests in which they are given only a drug. Patients have been shown to react less to real medicine if they know there is a fifty percent chance they are actually getting sugar pills (Amaral) .Very few doctors are this open about prescribing placebos, but most of them do not outright lie to their patients, either. In general, doctors who prescribe placebos often say that they have something that they believe can help, but they do not know exactly how it will work, either. Supporters of the use of placebos point out that this is not lying; placebos are known to be beneficial in some cases. The American Medical Association (AMA) policy suggests that doctors could explain the placebo effect to their patients and receive consent to prescribe them in the course of treating any illness. This way, the patients don't know exactly when they might be prescribed a placebo and they could still benefit from the placebo effect ("http://www.ama-assn.org/"). The Placebo effect refers to the situation where patients feel better after taking a medication even if the drug is ineffective. A study proved the effectiveness of placebo medicine in patients diagnosed with heart failure. When given the placebo to heart failure patients and they took it whole heartedly and faithfully they showed a thirty four percent decrease in death rate. The researchers are unsure about the results but some theories are; mind is as powerful as any organ in the body. People who took their placebo faithfully, and believe it would help, may actually have gotten real help. Also patients who have heart failure have to exercise and cut salt intake so that may have had an important role in the placebo succeeding (Amaral). The placebo effect is a powerful effect that can consistently induce a perceived benefit. Once the placebo was identified as a valid medication able to...