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The healing power of placebos
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Ode Magazine

Ode Magazine, May 1, 2006
Posted: November 11th, 2006

A sugar pill, a salt solution, a doctor in a white jacket -- these all have the power to cure as long as the patient believes in their healing qualities. That seems impossible. So what does science say about the elusive placebo effect? Very little research has been done in this area of medicine. The pharmaceutical industry cant profit; after all, they cant make money from sugar pills. It is often forgotten that the effect could help people and shave billions off spiralling health-care costs. If researchers could gain more insight into how the effect works, it would stand as one of the biggest medical breakthroughs in history. Some people are convinced that the effect proves that strength of mind is sufficient to heal the body. Placebos have...proven successful in treating depression, anxiety, stress, warts and ulcers -- sometimes in as many as 60 to 70 percent of the cases. There are...objective effects everyone can measure. Placebo treatments have been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as improve reaction speeds, pulse rates and immune-system activity. Ultimately, the placebo phenomenon points to a strange paradox in modern medical science. As soon as an alternative-health treatment proves successful, it is dismissed as the placebo effect. It works only because people believe in it. Yet this explanation appears to contradict one of the foundations of medical science, which stresses that the mind and body are separate, therefore ruling out the possibility of healing through belief.

Note: For ideas on why the placebo effect has rarely been studied, see our two-page health cover-up summary at

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