Remember last week when we discussed the sham surgical Placebo study that was done on arthritic knee patients? In that study the patients receiving the Placebo "surgery" had no idea that they did not receive the actual surgery and they still reported improvements.
So what if a study were to be performed where the researchers actually TOLD the patients that they were only receiving a Placebo.
Would they still respond?
Ted Kaptchuk, a leading researcher in the field of Placebo’s and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School decided that this was exactly what he wanted to study next. After deciding to run a Placebo study where he actually told participants the fact that they were taking a placebo and not medicine, he launched the first ever open-label placebo study, or so-called honest placebo trial.
The results were fascinating.
The first study was conducted on people with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). The results were that compared to people who received no treatment. Nearly twice as many people in the trial who knowingly received the placebo pills reported experiencing symptom relief.
One of the interesting tidbits about the study was regarding what they told the patients about the Placebo pill. It has been demonstrated time and time again that people who unknowingly take a Placebo pill in studies around IBS will experience improvement of their symptoms.
So what they did in this case was to show the people the previous studies and say “See here, in these studies we have shown that a Placebo pill improves symptoms in patients with IBS. So we are only going to give you a Placebo pill in THIS study to see how you respond.”
That’s fascinating right?!?! They simply showed proof that Placebo’s work, which in turn planted a strong idea of success in the patients MIND.
So what happens when we take a placebo and do not know it?
Well, a certain number of those people will accept and believe the idea that the pill is going to work towards improving their health. They ultimately are surrendering to the thought of being healed. As they do this, they begin to RELAX which allows their their Autonomic nervous system (ANS) to take control of the wheel again, while simultaneously allowing their Sympathetic nervous system to have a much needed break. The ANS then goes to work to create the exact pharmacy of chemicals equal to the substance or treatment they think they are receiving.
In this situation we have to ask: Is it the Placebo (sugar pill) that’s doing the healing or is it the body’s innate ability to heal by thought alone?
OR, is it the body’s innate ability to heal when we have RELAXED mentally (into trusting that the pill is “working”) which allows the body to take over without giving any MORE thought to the situation?
Through double-blind and triple-blind studies, science has shown that the mind plays an important effect on how well the drugs work. This new research is actually demonstrating that participants can knowingly take a sugar pill and still experience positive effects without even thinking that it will or will not work.
If you think about it, we have a very prevalent story, or myth if you will, in our society that taking a pill will make us better. We have grown up being bombarded with advertisements on television, in magazines, and on the subway walls that our health is dependent on a pill.
Over time this creates a subconscious belief in the story.
Then it makes sense that you can hand someone a sugar pill Placebo, tell them that it is an inert substance, and just the mere act of performing the ritual of taking the pill sets the wheels in motion of the subconscious mind and autonomic nervous system to do the rest.
Therefore, even though the participants in the study were well aware that there were no active ingredients in the placebo, their subconscious mind accepted the outcome of improved health because they had been conditioned over time to believe just that.
It is very important to be aware of the roll of our subconscious condition in our lives.
It plays a bigger role than most of us are willing to admit.
The truth comes out in our day to day conversations that we have with ourselves in our heads or while speaking casually to others.
This is why Life Coaching can be such a powerful tool to learn and overcome our own limiting beliefs so that we can heal and/or grow towards more confident and centered lives.
Life Coaches provide a sounding board and a mirror to their clients so that clients can realize the effects of their words and thoughts on their lives, and then be given strategies for moving forward and overcoming the limiting beliefs.
The same is true for learning to overcome chronic pain.
When the belief is that you will never get better, or that you need an outside force in order to improve, then you have a program running in your subconscious mind that will make that story true.
However if you can be shown another way, and trust me, there is one, you can learn to overcome the pain on your own and obtain lifetime strategies for overcoming the pain in the future if it ever arises again. It' just takes some unlearning and some reprogramming.
If you would like to learn more about how you can overcome chronic pain from the comfort of your own home, or if you are looking to work with a trusted advisor to help you overcome the limiting thought patterns that are holding you back from thriving in your life, please feel free to contact me using my website drmikemurray.com
Wishing you all the peace and happiness in the world!