The power of placebo
There are few topics in science as fascinating as the placebo effect, I’ve been following the studies for years as the effect has gone from the sidelines to become one of the most promising areas of mind-body medicine and I’ve been hacking the ‘principles’ myself, here are some of the examples:
- The strongest painkillers I have available to me are soluble Co-Codamol 30/500’s, unfortunately although they are very effective they also trigger migraines, so I’m limited to using them on only 10 days a month. When I can’t use them I have the option of Paracetamol/Aspirin tablets or the soluble variety. The soluble option is MUCH more effective, because my mind associates horrible tasting, fizzy water with the much more powerful Cc-Codamol.
- I have widespread muscle pain many times a month, but the muscle pain is much easier to bear when I re-frame it as being caused by healthy exercise. I make sure that I cause myself exercise induced pain a couple of times a week (press-ups, dips etc) so that it’s easier to fool myself. I’ve found the pain gets better faster and rarely needs pain killers during the day if I can convince myself that it feels as if exercise is the cause.
- I use the natural pain killing effects of walking and cycling every day, it doesn’t always work, but the more I expect it to work the more regularly and effectively it does work
- When I was a little kid with Migraines I pretended I had the power to float the pain away, after decades of pretending it becomes more real every year
This week an episode of Horizon shows some great experiments and talks about the evolving understanding of how it works.