Happy New Year to everyone who reads this blog! May the new year be filled with health and peace and lots and lots of love for you.
A client of mine brought to my attention a recent research study about placebos that utterly intrigued me. The gist of the research was that patients with chronic irritable bowel syndrome (or IBS—a nasty stress-related ailment involving abdominal bloating, cramps, and diarrhea alternating sometimes with constipation) were knowingly given a placebo—nothing more that a sugar pill—yet they reported statistically significant improvement in their symptoms over those patients who received no treatment at all.
In fact, one patient who was quoted in a follow up article—who had initially expressed doubts about the efficacy of taking a sugar pill—was asking for more after she ran out because they worked so well. When she couldn’t get any more sugar pills from the study because the research had concluded, she went out and bought her own placebo in the form of an herbal supplement. She got rid of 70 percent of her IBS symptoms that way.
While the researchers have no idea how any of this works, it does point to the powers of the mind over the body. That’s why the research population wasn’t entirely surprising to me, given that IBS is considered to be a stress related malady, with stress having a significant psychological component. I suspect that a placebo would be mostly ineffective in mending a broken bone. But since so much of the problems an average doctor sees in his or her office has a psychological component, I’m glad this area of research is getting more attention.