reblog: The Rising Placebo Effect

Long-time readers of this blog know I very rarely re-blog. Occasionally something strikes my fancy so hard, I have to (if nothing else) mention it and post a link to it here.

Derek Lowe, a chemist who also writes In the Pipeline, a great chemistry blog, recently posted something striking:

…a new analysis of clinical trials for pain medication shows that the placebo effect in [the area of pain relief] has been getting stronger. The same also seems to be true for antipsychotics and antidepressants, but this effect seems to be mainly (or only) visible in large-scale US trials

The emphasis (italics) is mine, because that’s what struck me. The placebo effect is controversial, but seems real, at least in some areas. This finding, if it holds up, suggests perception of modern medicine — in the USA — is psychologically significant (and does support the reality of placebos).

The whole area of mind-over-body interests me. I’ve heard about ice cubes raising burn blisters on blind-folded test subjects who believed they were being touched by something hot. The degree of power of our belief to affect our body is an intriguing question.

Certainly you can will your muscles to operate. What else might it be possible to will?

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FWIW, Mr. Lowe’s blog is interesting enough in reflecting his work as a research chemist in the drug industry (the legal one, nothing like Breaking Bad). But what what drew me to his blog were his posts under categories such as Things I won’t work with and Things I’m glad I don’t do (also How not to do it).

It just fascinating reading about high-energy nitrogen compounds that explode if you look at them wrong, compounds so scary it’s amazing anyone works with them, and compounds so smelly they can scar you psychologically for life.

Great stuff! 😀

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

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