Placebo effect works

Placebos should be blue and white according to research

New Study shows the placebo effect helps pain

A recent BBC documentary filmed a group of people in Blackpool and lead them through a drugs trial. What they thought was a new painkiller but turned out to be a placebo – ground rice.

Even when those who had benefitted from the pain relief were told it was a placebo, many still carried on benefitting from it’s powerful effect.

When the brains of the two groups were scanned. Those which had responded were found to be different anatomically. Especially the Amygdala which governs the fear response.

They also found that those who responded better than the others were more aware and open to new experiences. This I found interesting as the same goes for the success of hypnotherapy. Those who are closed to the idea, do not respond at all to suggestion. The trance state also quietens the Amygdala, which looks like what was happening too. Perhaps this group were open to the possibility that their future could be pain-free.

The research shows that endorphins are released when the placebo was used, again thinking about good and positive things can also trigger this feeling in the body.

Visualisation can be an effective placebo

We know through research into visualisation that the same parts of the brain fire when we visualise ourselves doing something to when we are actually doing the action, so when I use hypnosis on my clients for pain management, they often become disassociated from that part of the body. You can suggest to someone in trance that they no longer feel that part of their body. Alternatively, you can get someone so focused on another part of the body they no longer feel the pain.

This is something I am currently doing with someone with a brain injury after being thrown from a horse. I help them become so involved with the sensations in their feet, they forget the head pain.

Please see my page on the Oxford Pain Clinic

The British Medical Journal recently published a paper about the ethics of prescribing the placebo.