Monday, October 18, 2010

Placebo effect should be embraced as real medicine

Doctors are increasingly discussing how the placebo effect, long relegated to the realm of scientific research, can be harnessed for actual treatment.

"In the last 10 years we've made tremendous strides in demonstrating the biological veracity of the placebo effect," said Ted Kaptchuk of Harvard Medical School. "The frontier is, how do we utilize what is clearly an important phenomenon in a way that's consistent with patient-practitioner trust, and informed consent?"

Recent research has shown that placebos -- biologically inactive treatments presented as real cures -- can actually produce biological changes that begin the body's healing process. Yet modern medical ethics frown on giving patients any treatment, even a fake one, without full and informed consent. Read more...

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