Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 11th 2014 Contents A23
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
S SALE 33/2014
OFFERS ARE INVITED FOR THE FOLLOWING PROPERTY:-
Two (2) contiguous parcels of land comprising a
total of 11 Acres 1 Rood 11 Perches of freehold
land situate at a Road Reserve, off SS Erin Road,
Rancho Quemado, Erin.
The property is being sold "as is" without any
responsibility of the vendor to provide statutory
approvals, surveying data or warranty on its
suitability for use for any purpose.
The property is being sold subject to any existing
tenancies, occupancy or encroachments however
created or formed.
The mortgagee does not bind itself to accept the highest or any
offer. The property will be sold subject to all rates, taxes and
other outgoings that may be due at the time of the sale. 1111004
Placebos are amazing things.
All schoolchildren should be
taught about them.
Then we might not have so
many people believing in the
local charlatans with their lime
bud tea and the like for gastro
A placebo is simply anything
that seems to be "real" medical
treatment, but isn t. It could be
a pill, a shot, or some other
type of "fake" treatment, like a
sham operation or the laying-on
of hands or inhalation of special
What all placebos have in
common is that they do not
contain an active substance
meant to affect health. This dif-
ferentiates them from sub-
stances like soursop tea, which
contains chemicals that induce
A placebo effect is the relief
of symptoms just by believing
you are receiving helpful care.
About one in three people get
better when they believe they
are receiving care that is going
to help them.
So placebos work. This isn t
news. It s been known scientifi-
cally for more than 50 years and
for centuries before that. One-
third of people respond to
treatments without any active
ingredient in them. It s so well
known that ethical researchers
automatically take this into
account when assessing the
efficacy of a new drug.
A drug is only useful when
it s better than the placebo
effect. You all would be amazed
at how many new, expensive
drugs are no better than place-
bos. Ah, but their advertising is
The other good thing about
placebos is that they have no
side effects, unless the side
effects have been suggested. If
people expect to have side
effects such as headaches, nau-
sea or drowsiness, there is a
greater chance of those reac-
tions happening. In one study,
people were given a placebo and
told it was a stimulant. After
taking the pill, their pulse rate
speeded up, their blood pressure
increased, and their reaction
speeds improved. When the
same people were given the
same pill and told it was to
help them get to sleep, they
experienced the opposite effects.
Placebos are extremely useful
for those common yet frustrat-
ing afflictions that have a psy-
chological component: back
pain, sleep disorders, irritable
bowels, depression, headaches
and so on.
This strong psychological
component to placebos helps
explain the tremendous success
some charlatans, whether med-
ical or non-medical, have. In
one study involving asthma,
people using a placebo inhaler
did no better on breathing tests.
But when researchers asked
for people s perception of how
they felt, the placebo inhaler
was reported as being as effec-
tive as medicine in providing
relief. Scary stuff!
There is a relationship
between how strongly a person
expects to have results and
whether or not results occur.
The stronger the feeling, the
more likely it is that a person
will experience positive effects.
This may well be due to the
interaction between a person
and the health care provider,
but other belief systems are
involved. Expensive placebo pills
are more effective than cheap
ones. (This may be true of doc-
tors also). Taking two placebo
pills (eg sugar pills) relieves
more pain or is more sedating
or heals stomach ulcers more
quickly than taking just one.
This good-feeling phenome-
non is not imaginary or fake
but due to a physical change
that occurs with all placebo
effects: an increase in the
body s production of endor-
phins, one of the body s natural
But it gets better: it s not only
about sugar pills. Sham
acupuncture (or fake acupunc-
ture), which doesn t target tra-
ditional pressure points and
doesn t penetrate the skin,
reduces migraines in 38 per cent
of patients, making it as effec-
tive as real migraine drugs.
Sham surgery (fake opera-
tions), in which you go into an
operating theatre, go under
anaesthesia, get cut and imme-
diately stitched back up without
anything else being done, helps
58 per cent of migraine patients
who undergo the operation,
potentially better than actual
drugs for migraine.
The hypothesis that when we
believe placebos will heal, they
do, at least to some extent, is
hard to reject.
Perhaps for this reason, child-
hood is full of placebo effects.
Parents do it all the time to
their children, who, with their
belief in magic, get better
remarkably quickly. If a child
falls, a bag of ice on the knee
soothes even if the knee really
isn t injured. A Dora plaster
over an injection ends tears
immediately. Hugs and a kiss
from Mummy can heal almost
The widespread use of antibi-
otics for conditions that don t
require them (flu, tonsillitis) is a
form of placebo prescribing.
Trinis real believe in this. The
more the injection hurts, the
better. Paracetamol for back
pain appears to be a placebo as
These may help patients feel
better, but only because they
believe they will do so. The
active ingredient adds nothing.
Most people don t seem to
mind, even if they suspect the
doctor may be tricking them.
Nevertheless, prescribing a
treatment that may not have
any direct physical effect is an
ethical grey area, even if it har-
nesses the placebo effect.
The lesson of placebos is sim-
ple: the mind-body connection
is strong. A lot of good can
come from caring and feeling
cared for. Many times we need
additional help from surgery,
medication and other therapies.
But for a wide range of com-
mon problems, from earaches to
sleep disorders to headaches,
often we don t.
Words, touch, and hope can
be therapeutic. Perhaps what we
need to figure out is how we
can put that power to good use.
Is there an ideal combination
of advice, empathy and touch
that can release our body s nat-
ural disease-fighting agents?
DAVID E BRATT, MD
ALL IN THE MIND
Links Archive November 10th 2014 November 12th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page