The Placebo Effect

Research studies published in medical journals report that there are anti-depressant medications on the market that register no measurable results in clinical trials.  The assertion has been made that a “placebo effect” may be responsible for the benefits that the retail users of those medications report to their doctors.  You probably know that a placebo works only because you think it will. It happens when you believe a neutral substance will have a positive effect on you and because you believe it, it really does. So far there’s no scientific explanation for it and some people tend to laugh it off, but the placebo effect is serious stuff because it’s a part of who you are.

In modern medicine, studies about the placebo effect have been going on for decades, reporting confirmed cases of the placebo effect in action. One of the more astonishingly invasive studies in 1959 through the National Institute of Health involved a “mammary artery ligation” procedure, used in those days to cure angina pain. The cardiac surgeon makes an incision in the chest and ties off two particular arteries, the theory being a resulting increase in blood flow to the heart. The Seattle cardiologist hired for the study performed sham surgeries where 8 of 17 patients got incisions and stitches, but nothing more. 100% of the patients who got no real surgery reported being cured. Later, this particular procedure was abandoned.

Such invasive studies are not as prevalent, but are still being conducted. For example, in 2002 at the Houston VA Medical Center, 180 patients with osteoarthritis in their knees were surgically treated with either (1) arthosopic procedures to remove damaged cartilage or (2) placebo surgery of simulated arthroscopic surgery, making an incision but not removing any cartilage. Even after two years, and not being told who did and did not receive the “real” surgery, there were no differences between the placebo and non-placebo groups. All patients reported improvement in their pain and ability to use their knees.

Dr. Bruce Moseley, the orthopedic surgeon performing the surgeries reported to United Press: “I was initially very surprised… I could not imagine anybody suggesting that anything we do in surgery would be beneficial from a placebo effect. I associate placebo effect with pills… In my simple surgeon’s explanation of this, the magnitude of placebo effect is directly proportional to the patient’s perceived intervention,” Moseley explained.

You won’t catch me volunteering for any surgical clinical studies….

The placebo isn’t in the sugar pill – it’s in the conscious communication you send to your subconscious inner intelligence.  The placebo effect is the definitive example of what the inner intelligence does with your thoughts.  In clinical trials, medical placebos have shown an astonishing rate of efficacy – over thirty percent – and this is compelling evidence that as you believe, you often receive.  Everyone gets the placebo effect from time to time and if you have a body and a mind then you’ve gotten it too.  The placebo effect occurs because of an elegant natural law – the body follows the mind.

The placebo effect is proof-positive of your own ability to heal. It’s a prime example of how powerful your inner intelligence is.


About the Author:
Peter Winlsow is a life coach based in Scottsdale Arizona, serving Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Mesa, Tempe, Peoria and all surrounding metro-Phoenix cities. Read more about him at