Many years ago in the ER I proved to myself that the placebo affect is real. I had one person that was in the ER very often (who I called a frequent flier). After a few times I emptied samples and gave the plastic shells to her. I gave her specific instructions and also told her that they were of high potency and therefore could be dangerous so follow my instructions. She always got better and would only come on my shift since I knew the right medication.
Switching to being an Holistic physician and seeing the results of hypnosis (and self hypnosis) and Interactive Guided Imagery taught me that illnesses can heal without drugs in many instances (BP for example). A lot depends if the person has a negative or positive outlook on either the ailment or life itself. It is known that exercise is equal to pills for mild to moderate depression. I believe this is so not only for the increased hormonal affect but due to the socialization of being with others and their energies; and also being proud of oneself for achievement.
Holistic medicine includes the triad of mind-body-spirit and finding the cause and not just alleviating an ailment whether with pharmaceuticals or alternative medicine. I believe one must note that alternative medicine in many instances is successful also due to the placebo affect it is not just allopathic pharmaceuticals that should be accused. There is a place for both allopathic & alternative medicine; but there is always a place for self-exploration of why one has acquired an illness and what they can do to not only cure or alleviate it but also to prevent future occurrences of it and others. This is why I stress the stress factor and the immune system in my book. One must realize that it is not the stress but how we react to a stress. Also when a person starts to be pro-active with working on stress solutions they are modulating their life style and therefore their health (and working with the healer).
Part of the placebo effect is having confidence and respect for your healer. One that the client can relate and that takes the time to relate to the client. My theory is: the physician is teaching the client and the client is teaching the physician. The physician is their to guide and for being a life-guard when necessary.
The mind can keep us healthy and heal and the mind can make us sick. The choice and options are ours. It takes a lot of work to clean up our inner negativities and fears. I have been working on this for myself for > 40 years using self hypnosis and Interactive Guided Imagery (and slowly progressing – the dance of 2 steps forward and often one step back). I have treated many patients with chronic diseases including cancers for years and have seen the differences when a person is positive or negative. Even if they came to me with a late stage terminal disease prognosis but positive energies they can still die with quality of life playing with their grandchildren. Often with IV alternative treatments they avoid their death diagnosis. I was one of these 10 years ago. So often the physician tells a person that they have a 60% chance of dying and never gives the positive that they have a 40-50% chance of living. I often wonder if the death sentence that is proposed by the healer and the client goes and spends all their savings and then lives another 10-20 years; are they glad about the extension of life, or angry about not having any money due to a the death prognosis (or wrong diagnosis-it happens). I myself am fortunate since my wife is an expert in both hypnosis and Interactive Guided Imagery. For example,I have sent people to her after my interview that just wanted BP meds and have her do hypnosis (for free) on the person. So frequently they drop their BP because stress is the cause of the vascular problem. So we work from that point on with both my medical and her psychology.
Much of the above seems to get off the subject of the placebo effect but the point is that it is the mind that cures with a positive outlook on the treatment. Therefore one can have both, a medicine (whether pharmaceutical or alternative) that helps plus the placebo effect. As an aside, sometimes giving a person a supplement or pharmaceutical does not cure them for two reasons: 1-they feel they have carte blanche to keep their harmful life style and the medicine will be the panacea: 2-They are alleviating a situation instead of finding the cause and working on this. This is especially true for delving into stress and its relationship to dis-ease.
Alan J. Sault MD, ABHM-Diplomat
Author: “Emotional Vampires and Your Hormones: an holistic physician’s view on how stress affects your well-being and what you can do about it”