The placebo effect is when a person reports feeling better, or a positive impact or outcome, from taking an inert pill that has no medicine being tested.  When they study the effect of one drug treatment, they compare it to people taking a fake medication. 

When they study the effect of drug treatments, they compare it to people taking fake medication.

The placebo effect can be significant. In many trials, we see over a third (33%) of the participants get positive benefits, and many times, more than people think, they beat the medication being tested….at times by over 20%! Placebos can work so well that once you remove the placebo effect from the equation in drug tests, the drug no longer shows any reliable benefit.

This is precisely what was found in reviewing the data on sleeping pills in the U.K. and here in the U.S., no help. No benefit beyond the placebo effect.

Now we have to take this issue even further.  The Annals of Internal Medicine published a report indicating that most clinical trials testing medications using a placebo do not list what the placebo is.  It has been reported that some studies have used substances in their placebos that would directly affect their studies showing a more significant clinical result.  

For example, there were diabetes studies that used a sugar pill as the placebo, making the sugar reduction and impact data of the medication look better than the control group because they were taking sugar.   There were studies on cancer drugs and AIDS drugs using lactose as the placebo, knowing that both cancer patients and AIDS patients suffer significantly from lactose intolerance, making the benefit of their drugs appear better by making the control feel worse.  

They have used hydrolized corn oil in placebos for heart medications, creating the same false advantage for their medication since transfats in hydrolyzed corn oil will worsen inflammation and heart disease markers.

Since one of the objectives of these research studies is to show a medication can outperform a placebo to prove effectiveness, the doctrine of the placebos is straight-up fraud.

Many medications can not beat the placebo, resulting in the illusion of evidence-based outcomes and benefit for treatments in medicine that are solely from the placebo itself. 

Considering drug overdose has just been ranked the 3rd leading cause of death, with the majority of those deaths coming from medications, we would be wise to:

  1. Not trust these studies showing medications work until all the data is provided, including what the placebo is. 
  2. Use placebos more in clinical practice. 

Some arguments against natural or alternative health modalities have repeatedly been that it was just the placebo effect, not the care is given that produced the results.  Now it seems the tables are turned. 

Alternative health care also gets accused of not being evidence-based for not having double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trials, the medical research “gold standard” studies. 

Double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trials were invented to test medications against a placebo and only medications.

Even with this high standard of this type of testing, 95% of medications are prescribed as treatments not considered evidence-based themselves.

If a healthcare procedure needs these trials to be considered evidence-based and scientific, that would make over 85% of medical services NOT evidence-based and join the ridiculous label given to alternatives.

Cardiovascular surgery, all obstetric birthing procedures, and the entire field of emergency medicine, for example, would join chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, and others on that not evidence-based list.

You can’t do a study and perform a placebo baby delivery or a placebo heart transplant any more than you can have a placebo massage or chiropractic adjustment.

The study participants might catch on. That’s why other forms of evidence fit such procedures, but if applied to medications, they would fail to show evidence they work.

Now the tables are turned.

Most medications have such an adverse health effect that they eliminate the placebo effect when tested and lose to the placebo. If they show a positive benefit once you remove the placebo effect, it proves insignificant and not worth the risks.

Placebos or not, results are results. I will take some placebo healing mixed into my health efforts any day.  A placebo may be a fake pill, but the health results and benefit they can bring is actual.

As always, the key is getting healthy and staying healthy.  This is our passion, we exist outside the box of American Health care for the most part, and we do things differently.  That is precisely why we get different, better, and often incredible results compared to the standard medical model.  

Find a natural health care professional near you or message me for a free strategy session.

We can do better!

Dr. Don Clum