Back pain and the placebo effect: ‘I’ll keep taking the pills’

Dr. Michael Mosely reports on a BBC Horizon programme titled Can my brain cure my body? Although this programme concerns painkillers, it has obvious relevance to the subject of ‘antidepressants’ and other types of prescribed psychiatric medication:

” … there is mounting evidence, from a number of small trials, that placebos can work even when patients know that they are taking them. That way, you can get the benefits of pain control without the often significant side effects of taking a ‘real’ drug.”

“Could taking a placebo, a pill which contains nothing but ground rice, really help cure back pain?

Jim Pearce is certainly convinced.

When we first met, the 71-year-old was confined to a wheelchair and using morphine because of his back pain.

But after he took part in our study, taking our convincingly-labelled blue-and-white-striped ‘new’ painkillers, he seemed like a different person.

The only thing was that he’d been taking placebos; dummy pills – they contained nothing but ground rice. But they worked.

‘I just woke up one morning and I thought, hang about, I haven’t got a twinge in my back. And it’s been going from strength to strength.’

I asked him which he preferred, my pills or the morphine?

‘I got rid of the morphine and kept taking your blue pills.’

Jim was one of 100 people who took part in a trial for our BBC2 Horizon programme: Can my brain cure my body? …”

Read more here.




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