I’d love to give a drug called obecalp to my patients as it would help cure so many symptoms. But obecalp is not a real drug or is it? You see, obecalp is placebo spelled backwards.
Now placebos are not a trick that is performed by a magician but actually is a real effect.
For instance, some trials with antidepressants show both efficacy greater than placebo and some show equivalency with placebo. So the placebo effect is the real deal. And it isn’t easy for researchers to show efficacy of a medicine that exceeds a placebo.
Acupuncture can be done at the wrong spots and yet still be effective. Perhaps there is a strong placebo effect at work. I always wondered how coronary artery bypass could be done with acupuncture in China.
I have a saying, “Your beliefs determine your destiny.” Perhaps the Chinese have a greater belief in acupuncture which juices up the results. Don’t get me wrong, acupuncture works but positive beliefs probably enhance its effect.
So the placebo effect is a real effect as demonstrated by blood flow changes in the brain on MRI and chemicals released by the brain such as dopamine and endorphins.
Interestingly, even if both doctor and patient know that the drug is a placebo, it still works! Why is that? Nobody really knows for sure but here is my hypothesis. The emotional child within us functions at a 3 year old level. It wants to believe. It has hope and therefore a cure might just be on the horizon. A 3 year old wants to believe and that might even override our reasoning mind.
So here is a summary with additional data:
—Placebos clearly work.
—Changes occur in the brain with placebos.
—Empathy and caring can increase its effect.
—Placebos probably work better if both doctor and patient are oblivious.
—The placebo can work even if the patient knows it’s a placebo.
—-Genetics also seem to play a role.
—-Placebos might work better if there is perceived value such as a cost.
Yes, I’d love to sell obecalp in the office. The side effects are low, the cost is reasonable and it works! Ahh but it remains an ethical dilemma.