Placebo Effect: How the Mind Can Help with Pain
The Placebo Effect is well known, but not well understood. The word Placebo comes from the Latin for “I shall please.” Patients given a placebo with have “an actual or perceived improvement” in their medical condition. In essence, “what your mind believes to be true, becomes a reality.” Therefore, if you “believe” a medication, treatment or procedure will help you heal, recover, relieve your pain, it will do so about 33% of the time. This is a quote from the Official Journal of the American Academy of Neurology, “How placebos work is still a mystery. It is important to understand that not all placebo effects are good. Just as some patients improve with the power of positive thinking, some get worse and drop out of research studies because of the side effects caused by the placebo. In a recent, well-publicized and fascinating study of Parkinson disease (PD), it was discovered that the patients who improved with placebo had changes in their brain that were identical to the changes caused by the actual medication (called levodopa).1 Levodopa causes an increase in brain dopamine, and the placebo should not. However, the patients who got better with placebo had a similar increase in dopamine, identical to what happened in those who were given the drug. Talk about mind over matter! That is like convincing yourself you can run a 40-yard dash in 4 seconds and then doing it. Similar effects of changes in brain chemistry have been found in studies of pain and of depression. However, this does not work in secret. When patients in a study of treatment for pain were given pain medications without their knowledge, the benefit was far less than when they were given placebo and they were able to expect a benefit.” Hypnosis, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Positive Psychology can all help.
The link below is a very interesting and useful explanation of just how placebo works in the mind.