January 31, 2000
The Jan. 17 article ("Which Herb Helps What? Labels Can Now Say") constitutes a step backward by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Although there are probably some benefits to be derived from herbs and dietary supplements, for the most part, positive results are likely due to the placebo effect. The labeling is largely based on anecdotal reports. There may sometimes even be harm, especially when herbs and supplements are mixed with certain prescription drugs. Until scientific studies supporting the claims made by the distributors of herbs and supplements are done, labels describing what these products can be used for should not be allowed.
August 13, 2001
Patients in clinical studies often feel relief even when they're given placebos--pills that don't contain medications. The cause, doctors think, is the power of the mind to influence the body. But the nature of the mind-body link is unclear. Now scientists at the University of British Columbia have an explanation for why such a strong "placebo effect" occurs in patients with the neurological condition known as Parkinson's disease.
December 22, 2010 |
A simple sugar pill may help treat a disease — even if patients know they're getting fake medicine. The finding, reported online Wednesday in the journal PloS One, may point the way to wider — and more ethical — applications of the well-known "placebo effect. " "The conventional wisdom is you need to make a patient think they're taking a drug; you have to use deception and lies," said lead author Ted Kaptchuk, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
September 17, 2010
An analysis of 10 studies involving more than 3,800 people has found that glucosamine and chondroitin supplements for joint pain are ineffective either alone or in combination. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements have been popular for years among people with arthritic knees or hips. According to the authors of the study, worldwide sales of the supplements reached almost $2 billion in 2008. Previous studies on whether the drugs work to relieve arthritis pain, however, have been conflicting.
July 26, 2004
I have no doubt that the "healers" documented in the article ("The Energy to Heal," by Jenny Hontz, July 5) sincerely believe in the mysterious channeling of energies they feel so strongly. It's no wonder some of their clients report nearly miraculous recoveries and relief. But these anecdotes are not science, and the studies conducted to date have either been inconclusive or so poorly designed as to have been meaningless. Deep in the story was the suggestion that sufferers try traditional medicine first.
August 6, 2009 |
A widely used surgical procedure in which cement is used to fortify cracks in the spine is no better than a sham operation, two groups of researchers independently reported Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The findings shocked clinicians because the procedure, first introduced in the early 1990s, is now widely accepted and assumed to be very effective at relieving pain and improving mobility.
October 18, 2010
We've all heard of the placebo effect -- thinking a simulated treatment has an effect -- but what exactly is in that placebo, anyway, and could it have a noticeable effect? A new study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine analyzed numerous research trials to find out, but discovered that placebo disclosure is rare. Many drug trials involve a placebo, a sham drug whose results are compared with the results of the real medication. A placebo is supposed to contain a harmless substance, such as sugar or vegetable oil, which has no significant effect on the body.
December 29, 2011 |
Word is that New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez flew to Germany earlier this month for a special treatment on his right knee and left shoulder -- on a recommendation from the Lakers' very own Kobe Bryant. Rodriguez received what's called platelet-rich plasma injections, or PRPs. Doctors will take a small amount of a patient's blood, centrifuge it to yield a concentration of platelets and inject it back into injured tissue. The idea is to supplement the growth factors and plasma cells in a person's blood with a concentrated dose in order to speed up healing of, say, a sore knee or a scarred Achilles' tendon.
February 19, 2007 |
LAZY, shiftless couch potatoes of the world, here's something to crow about. You may be able to enhance what little exercise you get, just by happily pondering the value of it. In a novel investigation of the placebo effect and exercise, psychology researchers from Harvard University found that hard-working hotel housekeepers who were tutored on the fitness value of their tasks experienced marked health improvements.
June 7, 2011 |
Let's see ... St. John’s wort for depression, echinacea for colds and now flaxseed for hot flashes. Again and again, popular herbal remedies have failed to deliver when put to the scientific test. In the latest round of herbal disappointment, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., announced that flaxseed didn’t seem to relieve hot flashes any better than a placebo. The researchers said they were “surprised,” but perhaps a successful trial would have been a little more jaw-dropping.