The Placebo Effect

A line from a famous song reassures us that, "A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go the most delightful way." But could the sugar itself be the medicine? Placebo studies show us that "a spoon full of sugar," and a little faith, could be as real a cure as any prescription drug. A "placebo" is a remedy (usually a sugar pill, colored liquid, saline injection, etc...) which is considered to have no true, clinical, healing properties or value. Placebos are currently used by pharmaceutical companies primarily as a control against which to compare their "real" drugs; but, before pharmaceutical companies came along, most of medicine consisted of natural remedies and what we now call "placebos." And most interesting is the fact that these things have always worked! Even in today's pharmaceutical trials, placebos often outperform the "real" drugs they are compared to!

But how do placebos work? It's simple; they work just like real drugs. In fact, when you go to the doctor and he tells you that you have the flu, and then gives you a prescription for an antibiotic, he is giving you a placebo. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed for ailments that antibiotics are known to have no effect on; but the physician wants to seem like he is doing something (the word "placebo" means: I shall please...), so he prescribes something he believes will do no harm, but will make the patient think and believe they should be getting better. And they almost always do.

In some pharmaceutical trials, a large group of people with similar symptoms is divided into two smaller groups. One group is given the "real" drug; while one group is given a sugar pill that looks identical to the "real" drug. All of the test subjects have the same symptoms or complaints; and they all took place in the same study where they were all given identical pills by doctors in white lab coats carrying clipboards. And a certain number out of BOTH groups gets better EVERY SINGLE TIME! In fact, about a third of the "real" drug group and a third of the placebo (control) group - on average - experience the same degree of relief most of the time.

So, instead of grouping the people in groups based on what pill they took, why not group the all the people who got better together - and all those who did not in the other group. What do all the people who got better have in common? Everything except for what was actually inside the pill; which is the same - a mix of "real" drugs and placebos - for the group that did not improve. In other words, placebo tests ACTUALLY divide people into two groups AFTER the test is completed: Those who can heal no matter what they take - as long as they have something to believe in; and those who don't heal regardless of what they take - those who lack whatever "Healing Factor" is present in those who can heal whether they take sugar, or some chemical compound manufactured for profit.

Mind Over Medicine

The bottom line is simple: If you have a desire to get well, a plan to get well, no reason to not be well, and enough faith to follow through with your plan - there's a good chance it will work no matter what the plan is. All known illnesses have been survived by someone; and all illnesses for which drugs are manufactured have been successfully treated with placebos. A physician once wrote that "the entire history of medicine" could just as easily be called "the history of placebo." It seems that people have always become ill, and become well, and the culprit -- and cure -- is, and has always been, the mind.

The mind-body connection has always been a "medical" issue. The term, "psycho-somatic" doesn't mean that the person with a psychosomatic illness is "faking;" it simply reflects the nature of the illness -- beginning in the mind (psyche) and ending-up as an expression in the body (soma). Just as placebos have always been used to cure, their counterpart -- nocebos -- are suggestions that convince a person to experience an immune response, or even an allergic reaction; there have even been cases of what has been called, "death by suggestion," wherein a patient dies because they are convinced they should.

The mind is very powerful. Your mind can make you ill, or it can help you heal. With the power of the mind, you can literally overcome any problem, obstacle, or illness -- even what have been mislabeled as, "incurable." In fact, people have overcome all manner of illness with all manner of cures, including: Drugs; Herbs; Healing springs; Prayer; Placebos; Surgery; "Miracles;" Blessings from religious figures; Holy relics, shrines, and other monuments; Holy water; Hypnosis; Psychology; Acupuncture; Ayurveda; Reiki; Energy medicine; Chiropractic; and literally hundreds of other approaches all having one thing in common - they were all used faithfully by someone seeking to be well. It doesn't matter what's in the pill; all that matters is what's in your mind and heart.

Author's Bio: 

Pete Koerner is the author of The Belief Formula: The Secret to Unlocking the Power of Prayer. For more information, go to:

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