दवा के बिना इलाज : एक रहस्य Treatment without Medicine: A Mystery

Author : Dr. P. D.GUPTA

(Former Director Grade Scientist, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, India)


Effectively in prevention or treatment of illness 

A placebo is a medical treatment that doesn’t contain any kind of medicine. In fact, it contains no active ingredients as medicine at all. But in many cases, placebos can have a therapeutic and sometimes dramatic effect. If the doctor gave you a pill that contained nothing but starch and/  or glucose and ask the person to take three times a day with water, your headache got better or gone, you’ve experienced the placebo effect. After thorough examination the doctors would give placebos to patients that had little else to offer or seemed to have nothing wrong with them. They might give a patient a tincture of sugar water, or a pill filled with nothing but sugar, hoping that the patient’s belief in the medicine or trust in the physician would help relieve the symptoms. Placebos are also nothing new. It is age old practice.  

The Placebo in Trials plays very important role 

It is one of the requirements to have placebo controlled drug trial. When experts started to see medicine as more of a science and less of an art, they saw the true power of placebos. That’s why today’s “gold standard” of drug testing is the double-blind, randomized controlled trial (RCT). In an RCT, some of the patients receive the actual drug; others receive a placebo. Neither the researchers nor the patients know who gets the drug and who gets the placebo, hence the “double-blind.” Experts won’t approve a drug if it is not more effective than the placebo. Researchers have observed placebos producing changes in blood pressure and heart rate, as well as relieving pain, depression, anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome. Sham injections (something that is false) seem to work better than sham pills, large pills work better than small ones, and two pills are better than one. Studies have found that even the colour of the pill can make a difference. 

Placebos aren’t limited to pills and tinctures. In one study, a surgeon gave patients a sham knee surgery, where the surgeon made an incision, but did nothing to the knee before sewing it back up. The patients were just as likely to find relief as those who underwent the procedure.  

No Deceit Necessary 

But one thing is not a mystery. For all the good a placebo might do, lying to patients is not ethical. In clinical trials, the participants know that they may be in the group that gets a placebo. However, experts could take advantage of the placebo effect without fraud — pious or otherwise. One of the most intriguing things about placebos is that they can work even when patients know they’re getting a placebo. It’s still a mystery how the placebo effect works. Some say it’s a matter of expectations. Some think it’s classical conditioning at work. We’re conditioned to feel better after taking medicine, so we do.  Put another way, placebos work for illnesses that have a strong psychosocial component, Dr. Kaptchuk said. 

How placebos are used? 

Yet research suggests that placebos really can work as well as traditional medicine for certain conditions. In particular, they sometimes seem to work for many chronic conditions, like chronic pain, chronic fatigue, arthritis, headache, insomnia, chronic digestive disorders, asthma, depression and anxiety.  (The author has his own study and views)