The Power of Placebos and Mind-Body Health

Marcey Shapiro, MD

Marcey Shapiro, MD

Placebos are powerful medicines. Researchers refer to their effects as the “placebo problem.” They are factored into drug trials because twenty-five to seventy percent of individuals will improve using placebo alone. Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard University believes this may be as high as ninety percent in some situations. This is twenty- five to seventy percent above the number that would improve anyway if there were no intervention of any sort.

Some research indicates that the bigger and more elaborate the placebo, the greater the likelihood of success. For example, sham operations have been done as part of studies on placebo effect. In one small but well-known study done at the Veterans’ Administration Hospital in Houston in 1994, Dr. Bruce Moseley worked with a group of ten patients with arthritic knee pain. The patients consented to be part of a study, and all knew they would have either a real or a sham operative procedure. In fact, only two had the full arthroscopic knee surgery, three had a washing of the inside of the knee joint (one part of arthroscopic surgery), and five merely had three flesh cuts around the knee to simulate the appearance of an operation, but no actual surgery of any sort was performed. All ten reported significant improvement in their pain after the “operation.” Even six months later, all the patients were satisfied with the outcomes of their “surgeries.” The study was repeated with a larger group, 180 patients, and the results, published in 2002 in the distinguished journal The New England Journal of Medicine, found no difference in outcomes for patients who had real arthroscopic surgery versus placebo.  In the United States, placebo pills used to be available for prescription but were eventually deemed unethical except for clinical trials and are no longer available. So even “hard science” acknowledges that something is happening with placebos, causing a “placebo problem” that is yet another elephant in the living room leading us to the tricky role of mind and consciousness.

From the new premise that we are spiritual beings, sparks of divinity, creators, it is easy to see that the magic in the placebo is us. The power of placebo is the power of belief, the power of focus. The more we believe, the better the outcome. That may well be the power of many drugs and even vitamins. The earliest trials of SSRI antidepressants like Fluoxetine (well known as the brand Prozac®) and Sertraline (well known as the brand Zoloft®) were disappointing due to the meager benefits demonstrated by the drugs. But as more prescriptions were written and more doctors believed in them, they, like Tinker Bell, grew magically stronger. Later trials of the same drugs, which by then were popular and widely accepted, showed much more robust benefits.

Excerpted from Transforming the Nature of Health: A Holistic Vision of Healing that Honors Our connection to the Earth, Others, and Ourselves  by Marcey Shapiro, MD, published by North Atlantic Books, copyright © 2012 by Marcey Shapiro. Reprinted by permission of publisher.

Stay tuned for more thoughts from Marcey Shapiro, MD,  on “Transforming Health” and Heart Centered Living

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Touch, Caring and Cancer – Video

with William Collinge, PhD, MPH and others

with William Collinge, PhD, MPH and others

One of the most helpful forms of support you can offer a loved one with cancer is the use of touch. A simple 20 minute massage can reduce symptoms and side effects of cancer in half.

The video link below shows you that caregivers can learn some basic skills for touch and massage to use with their loved ones who are cancer patients.

Pass your love and good wishes through your hands.

Video Link: Touch, Caring and Cancer with William Collinge, PhD, MPH and others

For additional educational video clips submitted by AHHA members, visit the American Holistic Health Association’s Self Help Videos section.

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Sinus Survival is not a ‘Quick Fix’ – Article

Robert S. Ivker, DO

Robert S. Ivker, DO

True story of a middle-aged female who had a sinus condition that had become progressively worse with infections becoming more frequent, of longer duration, and greater severity. And her remarkable healing journey using a variety of alternative options.

The article link below tells you about her program designed to nourish the entire being, the mind, the body, and the spirit. It included diet choices, exercise, affirmations, environmental changes, reducing medications, and other changes.

The sinus/asthma survival program gives you the tools you need to rebuild your body and mind and soul, which in turn gives you good health, joy, and happiness as you take control of your own life.

Article Link: Sinus Survival is not a ‘Quick Fix’ by Robert S. Ivker, DO

For additional articles, visit the American Holistic Health Association’s Self-Help Articles Collection.

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Discover new wellness options – AHHA Resource

AHHA_LOGO_CLR_squareAHHA Organizational Member companies offer you innovative wellness-enhancing products and services to support your journey to a higher level of wellness.

Check out the online searchable database categories for these PRODUCTS and SERVICES categories.

AHHA Resource Link: AHHA Self-Help Tools

For additional similar American Holistic Health Association resources visit the Wellness Resources section.


Food Waste – Video

with Karen Roth, Holistic Nutritionist

with Karen Roth, Holistic Nutritionist

Have you ever wondered if those left overs were still safe to eat? Or how long after an expiration date is a product still good?

In the video below learn guidelines for how to confidently judge when food is still safe to eat.

Know tips for having your foods last longer.

Video Link: Food Waste with Karen Roth, Holistic Nutritionist.

For additional educational video clips submitted by AHHA members, visit the American Holistic Health Association’s Self Help Videos section.

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Energy: The River of Life – Article

Rita Louise, PhD, ND

Rita Louise, PhD, ND

We are each filled with universal life force energy. This energy is the essence of our being, our consciousness, our soul.

The article link below looks at the concept of dis-ease from the perspective that it is our reaction to an unbalanced life force energy in our physical, emotional, or spiritual body.

There are many techniques we can use to release stagnant energy that is not in harmony with our highest good. It is this release of energy that allows the healing process to begin.

Article Link: Energy: The River of Life by Rita Louise, PhD, ND

For additional articles, visit the American Holistic Health Association’s Self-Help Articles Collection.

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Heal quicker
 – Research Article

iStockPhotoBooksIf your physician has said that you need to lower your blood pressure, what options do you have?

One study reports on the research that concludes that eating a vegetarian diet is associated with lower blood pressure.  A promising non-drug approach you can discuss with your physician.

Research Article Link: ”Probiotics Reduce the Duration of Respiratory Infections” in the May 2014 issue of Natural Standard’s Integrative Medicine Newsletter.

For additional research results, visit the American Holistic Health Association’s Special Updates eReport Archives and note Featured Research item in each issue.

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Balance, Stress, and Optimal Health – Video

with Emmett Miller, MD

with Emmett Miller, MD

Dr. Miller offers you a deeper understanding of how the mind and body can work in harmony to produce healing, balance and wellness.

In the video link below learn how this deeper understanding can help you to reclaim your inborn personal wisdom and integrate with the scientific knowledge and techniques of modern medicine.

Enjoy the benefits of uniting the seemingly disparate fields of knowledge and experience.

Video Link: Balance, Stress, and Optimal Health with Emmett Miller, MD

For additional educational video clips submitted by AHHA members, visit AHHA’s Self Help Videos section.

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From Braces to Races – Article

Jody B. Nyquist, NHD, ND, DD

Jody B. Nyquist, NHD, ND, DD

True story of a career-driven executive who developed a painful, severe case of osteoarthritis and needed to wear orthopedic braces on her legs.

In the article below trace her journey of awakening to an understanding of the emotional root causes of her physical condition. How she learned the importance of listening to her inner voice and needs. After changing her priorities and nurturing herself, she no longer needed to wear braces and the pain went away.

With time she came to learn the power of choice. How, each of us can make things difficult, or we can make them easy. The choice is in our hands – in our every day actions or reactions. When your inner voice speaks, listen.

Article Link: From Braces to Races by Jody N. Ziegler Nyquist, NHD

For additional articles, visit the American Holistic Health Association’s Self-Help Articles Collection.

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Are states’ food-safety rules in danger? – Issue

IssuesBlogPhotoWhen the legislators of a state do not agree with national regulations regarding food safety, they create their own rules to at least control what happens within their state’s borders. Some conflicts in recent years have involved humane treatment of animals, GMOs, and BPAs in food containers. Federal bill H.R.687, the Protect Interstate Commerce Act, was recently introduced. If passed as currently written, this bill would prohibit states from interfering with production and distribution of agricultural products in interstate or foreign commerce. This bill is generating very strong reactions. We notice that both consumer and industry groups are worried that this bill would undermine hard-won state regulations for food safety and actually override a state’s ability to keep products that do not meet its standards out of that state.

Those concerned about this matter will want to watch what happens to this bill, particularly if there are changes that clarify exactly what it can and cannot do.

ISSUE: Federal control of state food safety

AHHA strives to maintain a neutral position on issues. For those interested in learning more about this month’s issue, the following online articles have compiled to get you started on researching this topic.

Pro Link #1: Iowa Congressman Reintroduces Interstate Commerce Agriculture Bill (2/10/15)
Food Safety News

Pro Link #2: H.R.687 – Protect Interstate Commerce Act (2/3/15)

Con Link #1: Steve King Reintroduces Bill to Nullify Animal Protection Laws (2/10/15)
by Linda Larsen
Food Poisoning Bulletin

Con Link #2: State GMO Labeling Laws in Peril (2/17/15)
Alliance for Natural Health USA

We encourage you to post your comments and tell your friends about additional resources you have found relating to this important health issue.

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