Let’s get this out of the way first. A placebo is a false medication or treatment of some kind that’s used to either convince a patient that they’re using something real or for comparison during testing to determine whether something else is real or not. It’s used in medication trials to verify whether new medications or anything existing that promises some kind of benefit actually works by comparing how people respond to each.

a million little pills...
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Having said that, it still begs the question as to whether the placebo is the most powerful treatment in the world. That’s because quite often you will find that there are some people who are given a placebo instead of the real medication that actually show improvement in their physical condition.

There have been people who have been given placebos who have overcome cancer. They are people who have been given fake therapies and have shown drastic improvement. There are even a very few number of people who have gotten up from their wheelchairs and walked after a faith healer laid their hands on someone’s head and said “heal thyself” (maybe one in every 5 million “real” people, but it’s happened).

So what is it about the placebo that has such healing properties? The fact is that it’s not a placebo that doing anything at all. Placebos are inert, whether it comes in a pill or whether it comes in a fake therapy. What does seem to happen from time to time is that the person’s mind takes over and actually believes in something so strong that either they really do start healing or they just think that they’re feeling better.

As a matter of fact, it happens so often that it turns out that the act of using a placebo, either during testing or not, is controversial among physicians. That’s because some believe the Hippocratic Oath is so paramount to what they do that anything given to a patient without the intention of really healing them is considered by some to be cruel and unethical.

Unfortunately, the use of placebos in testing is something that has to be done to find out whether new medications actually work, as part of the criteria that’s been set up by the Food and Drug Administration in making the determination as to whether a pharmaceutical will be approved or not. Patients who are selected for either the actual pill or the placebo are not selected based on how critical their illnesses are, therefore some patients who are given a placebo and do not respond in a positive manner can end up getting sicker and even dying because of the process. That’s the part that has other physicians feeling as though this type of thing shouldn’t continue.

There is no solving this as it pertains to medical testing, at least at the present time. However, everyone should be cautious when they’re seeking out alternative treatments that almost no one else has ever heard of to try to solve problems that regular physicians of some type can address. If it sounds too radical, it’s probably a sham, which is another way of saying it’s just a placebo.

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