When is a placebo not a placebo?
When you hear the word "placebo," you usually think of a phony medicine or other type of medical care that makes people think they are getting real treatment when they aren't. But can a "placebo" actually help someone get better? The answer, according to a new study, appears to be "yes."
Researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry in New York and Stanford University in California studied 46 patients with mild to moderate cases of psoriasis, which causes red, scaly patches of dead skin. For three weeks, the volunteers smeared cream on two patches of psoriasis twice a day. One cream contained a steroid medication known to help alleviate the condition, while the second did not. The volunteers didn't know which was which.
Then the test subjects were divided into three groups. One continued to receive 100 percent of the sterioid at each treatment for the next eight weeks. The second also received a full dose, but only one-quarter to one-half the time. The rest of the time they used a substitute that did not contain any steroid. The third group received the active substance every time but at one-quarter to one-half the full dose.
Among the subjects in Rochester, N.Y., those who received the lower dose had a much greater recurrence rate of their psoriasis. But the recurrence rate was virtually identical among those who got the full dose all the time and those who received it only one-quarter to one-half the time.
The findings, published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, suggest that just thinking you are getting something that works may actually have an effect--an idea that has been gaining credence in recent years. It could be because emotions are thought to play a role in psoriasis, which often becomes worse when someone is under stress, by affecting the immune system.
The findings indicate that doctors may be able to maximize benefits and decrease side-effects by combining a placebo with a real drug, the researchers say.
December 30, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Alternative and Complementary Medicine , Chronic Conditions , General Health
Save & Share: Previous: Ginkgo suffers another blow
Next: To your health!
Posted by: grm1 | December 30, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: improvista | December 30, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: rlalumiere | December 30, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: skyislandaz | December 30, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.