Invest in ME Conference 12: First Class in Every Way
OverTheHills wraps up our series of articles on this year's 12th Invest in ME International Conference (IIMEC12) in London with some reflections on her experience as a patient attending the conference for the first time.
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Have you ever experienced the placebo effect?

Discussion in 'General Treatment' started by PeterPositive, Feb 22, 2015.

  1. PeterPositive

    PeterPositive Senior Member

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    Hi,
    I've read many articles and a couple of books on the placebo effect and I find it fascinating, especially the when it induces measurable physiological effects, such as in parkinsons patients where it can produce a raise in dopamine similar to the conventional drugs or fake oxygen given at high mountain altitudes reducing the stress signals in the brain...

    There's plenty of other interesting effects found in diverse pathologies, often due to changes in subjective evaluation of the symptoms, but also real physiological effects.

    The ironic part is that in the past 4 years I've gobbled up thousands of pills, capsules, drops, lozenges and whatnot and I'll be damned if I've ever got an effect, at least a damn placebo! :rolleyes: :lol:

    If anything I've experienced lots and lots of nocebo effect, as I had many side effects and reactions that I had to stop whatever I was taking (medication, supplement...) But I think it's more sensible to say that those were real side effects, as I did not have any expectations of bad reactions :(

    Anyways... have you ever experienced the wonders of the placebo?

    cheers
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2015
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  2. A.B.

    A.B. Senior Member

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    I doubt the placebo effect actually exists (if we define it as real improvement in health caused by a fake medicine). This area seems to invite a lot of sloppy methodology and wishful thinking.

    I have more than once experienced temporary subjective improvement when trying various random supplements. It's impossible to say what is happening there without a real study. There are many possible explanations for this. One is just chance in the context of a disease with fluctuating symptoms.

    I have never had lasting or substantial improvements from anything so I would say I have never experienced the placebo effect.
     
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  3. Scarecrow

    Scarecrow Revolting Peasant

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    I'm about as persuaded by the placebo effect being psychogenic as I am by the theory of psychogenic illness, which is to say not very.

    I had a headache this morning so I popped a couple of ibuprofen from the blister pack. An hour later I wondered why it wasn't any better and discovered that I hadn't actually taken the pills. A further half hour on, the headache was under control.
     
  4. wdb

    wdb Senior Member

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  5. xrunner

    xrunner Senior Member

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    Never (unfortunately).
     
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  6. PeterPositive

    PeterPositive Senior Member

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    Interesting, thanks for the comments.
    I wonder if those studies posted in the other thread they had taken into account the effect found on parkinson's patients.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20679593

    The evidence suggests that placebo (patient expectations) modulates the dopamine response, and I've seen a couple of other studies where objective measurements did report other significant physiological changes.

    There's also the interesting studies on fake surgery, such as for placebo knee surgery, which was demonstrated to be as good as the real deal.

    Experts argue that the real procedure is probably worthless if fake surgery exhibits the same result. However it remains to be explained how come patients do improve with a fake procedure. People unable to walk regain mobility just as if they did have knee surgery, when all they had was a small cut and a few stitches. :wide-eyed:

    I may have experienced one instance of what doctors would label as "placebo". Oral Glutathione works for me reducing the discomfort of bowel irritation and leaky gut.

    Contrary to all predictions, i.e. oral glutathione is almost worthless, I have had significant improvements that I wasn't expecting and it took me a while to understand what was doing it. Only stopping the supplement for a while provided a clue that it was the "culprit".
     
  7. ukxmrv

    ukxmrv Senior Member

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    No, sadly

    I've never had the placebo effect or even a real remission from this disease in 30 years
     
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  8. A.B.

    A.B. Senior Member

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    I think one can observe all sorts of curious brain reactions to various things. Whether these constitute a real healing effect is another thing. Consider that even listening to music will result in dopamine release in some parts of the brain.
     
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  9. PeterPositive

    PeterPositive Senior Member

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    That's right, but in this case the patient's ability to produce / raise dopamine levels are largely impaired by their illness, so much so that they need constant medications to keep their levels up.

    I am not sure that we're looking at the same effect, because the placebo in parkinson's studies was able to replace the medications. Which in turn raises the question... where those drugs ever tested against placebo in the first place?! :lol:
     
  10. Gingergrrl

    Gingergrrl Senior Member

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    I don't believe I have ever experienced the placebo affect either. I have had so many horrible experiences from meds including IV saline that I never could have predicted. I am very fearful each time I try a new med so when I find something that actually helps me, the results are clear and measurable (i.e. change in HR or BP, etc.)
     
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  11. gene

    gene

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    I'm new here. I don't want to know as much about placebo effects as what causes the brief reprieve that is experienced occasionally? Another query, who has tried the T3 treatment suggested in Wilson's Temperature Syndrome or Dr Lowe's Thyroid science articles.
     
  12. melamine

    melamine Senior Member

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    I have never experienced it. I believe there is such a thing but that it is not as prevalent as it's thought to be, and I doubt effects of it can be lasting. Brain chemistry changes in response to all kinds of expectations and attentions, so it's not so hard to imagine how placebo works in those disposed. I think placebo studies leave out the crucial element of what distinguishes the susceptible from the not susceptible.
     
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  13. PeterPositive

    PeterPositive Senior Member

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    Yeah, lasting effects are very unlikely.
    It reminds me of hypnosis, where it seems some subjects are easily affected and others are almost "immune" to it.
     
  14. Snow Leopard

    Snow Leopard Hibernating

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    There is a big difference between attributing changes in symptoms or health to a placebo (as I have done in the past) and actually experiencing anything more than token physiological responses due to changes in mood, and being distracted from ones symptoms.
     
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  15. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

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    No I havent.

    There was a CFS study done on placebos years back and it was found that we get far less placbo affect then other people.

    (its probably related to all the medication failure we get)
     
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  16. PeterPositive

    PeterPositive Senior Member

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    Good point. But shouldn't studies account for that?
    Effects such as a bad knee recovering thanks to a fake surgery seems pretty impressive and beyond any mood oscillation etc...

    ETA = although in those instances I am not aware of any objective biological change that can be associated to an "improvement". Yet the effects seem lasting.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2015
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  17. Snow Leopard

    Snow Leopard Hibernating

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    The studies showed that the surgery was no better than sham surgery. They had reason to doubt the efficacy of the surgical procedure, which is why they did these studies in the first place.

    These studies show that both cases seemed to reflect natural recovery and pain was still common and equally prevalent in patients after 1-2 years.

    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa013259
    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1305189

    There are also patient reports that the outcomes of the surgery can be worse than the injury itself, hence I am not necessarily surprised at the results of such studies.
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304244904579278442014913458
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2015
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  18. PeterPositive

    PeterPositive Senior Member

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    Thanks for the links. I think I already saw at least one of them (the 2002 study, I think)

    These studies show clear evidence that surgery provides no benefit for the classes of patients taken in consideration.

    What they don't provide, imo, is a clear picture of how surgery (even a useless one) acts as a placebo. Both studies simply compare the real operation with a sham procedure, but they don't look at "doing nothing". In other words they are not aimed at testing the magnitude of the placebo effect, if any, which is common to all procedures (sham and real)

    In fact the 1st study (2002) says in the conclusion:
    But we don't know which is it.

    Similarly the 2nd study states:
    If this is the case both the sham and real procedure already provide a placebo effect and therefore are indistinguishable unless, of course, the real procedure had something else to offer besides the placebo.

    cheers
     
  19. Snow Leopard

    Snow Leopard Hibernating

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    Yes, that is what I was trying to point out. Discussions of a 'profound placebo effect' of surgery is highly questionable, unless there is sufficient evidence from comparing results of a controlled study which included a natural (non surgical) course.
     
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