Your Power to Create A Placebo or Nocebo Effect


PlaceboThe subject of mind having an effect on the body is not new.  For decades, if not centuries, people with an elevated awareness have observed it and have harnessed its power.  However, in recent years some “progressive” scientists and researchers have begun to ponder on the placebo(Latin for “I will please”) effect when it comes to documented results on new drug studies.  Statistically about 33% of study participants who take a sugar pill but believe they are on the “miracle” pill have dramatic improvements in their symptoms.

Previously, scientists would dismiss the placebo effect and not think about its implications; being that the mind and perception are very powerful.  In fact when someone has a  positive thought about a health related outcome in many cases there is a “healing” response.  On the contrary, research has also come to acknowledge what is termed as the nocebo (Latin for “I will harm“) effect which occurs when someone is given a sugar pill and they report having a number of side effects of the drug that they did not take!  In some circumstances not only can negative thoughts/perceptions or “nocebo” make you sick but they can kill you.

Research is beginning to bridge science with spirit and mind.  It is becoming more apparent to the scientific world that “thoughts” are very powerful whether they are positive or negative and consequently they affect the body likewise.  Not surprisingly, it is believed that close to 3/4 of our thoughts are negative in nature and repetitive.  Whether it is directed towards ourselves or others.  While we do this we literally rob ourselves of good health; we do harm (nocebo).

An internationally recognized authority on the subject of placebo and nocebo effects is Bruce Lipton, PhD, author of The Biology of Belief.  Dr. Lipton acknowledges that medicine is controlled by money and influenced greatly by the pharmaceutical industry.   He states that this “keeps us from looking at healing that does not involve chemicals and drugs only for the simple reason that a pharmaceutical company makes money by selling chemicals.  If we talk about healing yourself with your mind than that product doesn’t sell very well.  It is not in the interest of the pharmaceutical industry to support “free energy” healing and therefore, it is a subject that gets no coverage except for that 15 minutes on the “placebo” and then dropped out of the system; and yet it is the most important new understanding (though it is not new).”

Within the scientific world, Dr. Lipton is committed to bring awareness to this powerful truth of mind and beliefs.  By the way these thoughts and perceptions need to have a strong emotion behind it to have an effect; they often lead to our actions and type of lifestyle we choose to live. A great example of this is given by Tor Wager, an assistant professor of psychology at Columbia University. “Say it’s late at night and everything is quiet and then suddenly you see someone outside, near a window,” he explains. “Your body starts to respond. Your pupils dilate. Your heart rate goes up. You start to sweat.”  The belief that something threatening is out there produces a host of physical responses that you have little control over. If you were told to calm down and turn off these sensations, you couldn’t, Wager says. “But if the belief changes — say, it turns out that it’s just your husband coming home — the physical response changes.”  The question, now, is how to tap into these powerful, unconscious responses, Wager says.

The Placebo Effect

A placebo makes a person feel better for reasons unrelated to the specific healing properties of the treatment.  For years, scientists have looked at the placebo effect as just a figment of people’s imaginations.  Sure, sugar pills seemed to lessen epileptic seizures, depression and smooth out jerky movements in Parkinson’s — but these people weren’t really better. Or so scientists thought.  Recently researchers began using PET scanners and MRIs to Examine the heads of patients who responded to sugar pills, they discovered that the placebo effect is not “all in patients’ heads” but rather, in their brains.   New research shows that belief in a dummy treatment leads to changes in brain chemistry!

For example, a gentleman name  Chuck Park participated in a study and he was told that he might be getting a sugar pill, the 30-year-old software producer was pretty sure he was getting the real thing.  Just a few weeks into the clinical trial, Park’s depression started to lift.  He began to feel less anxious and sad.  Park later learned he’d been taking a placebo all along, it was a surprise.  “I was fully expecting to receive the real drug even though I knew that the placebo was a possibility,” remembers Park of Culver City, Calif. “I guess I wanted it to work — and in a way, it did.”

A woman, in her 30s, was “very significantly impaired,” says Straus, chief of the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “She had no energy, couldn’t work, and spent most of her time at home.” But her strength was restored during a study to test the effectiveness of an experimental chronic fatigue drug.  She and her parents were so thrilled with her recovery that they were blessing me and my colleagues,” recalls Straus, the principal investigator on that study.

It turns out, the woman’s quick turnaround from chronic fatigue occurred after taking placebo pills, not the experimental drug. “She was amazed by the revelation that she’d gotten better on placebo, says Straus”

“There have always been people who have said that we could make ourselves better by positive thinking,” says Dr. Michael Selzer, professor of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.  After pooh-poohing this for years, here are studies that show that our thoughts may actually interact with the brain in a physical way.”

The following video documents a groundbreaking 2 year study on patients who had severe knee pain.  Both the groups that received the actual surgery and the “make-believe” surgery had healing!

Placebo Surgery

The Nocebo Effect

In the 1970’s a man was diagnosed with end-stage liver cancer and given just months to live.   Though the patient died in the predicted time, an autopsy showed the doctors had been mistaken. There was a tiny tumor, but it had not spread.  Therefore, this man did not die of cancer but from the “belief” that he was going to die of cancer.  It was surmised that if everyone treats you as if you are dying, you buy into that perception and it becomes you reality.

In a Canadian study, more than half of the men who got the placebo pills reported significant relief from their symptoms, including faster urine flow. Researcher J. Curtis Nickel theorized that the patients’ positive expectations of the experimental drug’s benefits may have caused therapeutic smooth muscle relaxation by decreasing nerve activity affecting the bladder, prostate and urethra.  However, there was a percentage of participants on the sugar pill which complained of side effects too, ranging from impotence and reduced sex drive to nausea, diarrhea and constipation.  This is the nocebo effect.  You expect to feel worse and suffer from side effects.

Anticipating bad effects can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. It may help to emphasize the limits of medicine and explain the close relationship between emotions and physical sensations, especially as it involves stress hormones.

The following video demonstrates the nocebo effect on unsuspecting participants who believe they have been given caffeine.

Coffee Placebo


The question, now, is how to tap into these powerful, unconscious responses.  Being aware that we can tap into these powerful unconscious responses is what I call owning your Grandeur and using your grandeur to take charge of your health, if not your life!   Literally, you can tell your body ” enough is enough”.  You can talk to it as you speak to a child in loving yet authoritative terms.  I recently, did this.  I had been struggling with both of the rotator cuff areas of my arms, especially the right arm.  I sought out some acupuncture and it helped with the right arm, but then the left arm became increasingly painful.

As I was doing research and reading as well as watching videos on the placebo and nocebo effect, it dawned on me to try this.  I spoke to my body as I would to a child that is doing something very annoying.  I said, “I am tired of this arm pain, I want you to stop the inflammation.  I have important things I need to do with my life and you need to stop and leave.  My natural state is to be pain free and healthy.”  I had this type of conversation with my body for about 5 minutes.  I did this one more time later that same day.  I also asked to receive clarity of possibly why my arms sometimes felt this pain (occurs about every 2-3 months).   I am happy to report that within hours the pain shifted and a day later I was about 90% pain free on my left arm and 100% pain free on my right arm.

I later had a knowing that I needed to stop pushing myself so hard and being so serious about the goals I set for myself.  It almost seemed that the pain was forcing me to STOP and give myself a break.

I have full confidence now that you and I have been given great ability to create and re-create our life experience.  We can create for the positive or for the negative results.  I choose the positive and to have a forward momentum.  I don’t have time nor the inclination to lead a life of stagnation or pain, do you?  Get angry about it and say no more!  Learn what you must, gain clarity,  and move on…


1 Response to “Your Power to Create A Placebo or Nocebo Effect”

  1. 1 Ronald

    Great article! I studied the work of dr. Bruce Lipton and watched the video(s) about the knee surgery experiment. Too bad most people get indoctrinated with negative expectations about themselves and the world they live in. We’re leading (or better suffering) reactive lives and our reactions are mainly expressions of the negative programs that were installed by others since the moment we got born… The medical society generates about 90 percent nocebo effects in people (through doctors/media), because they’re always warning us for either external dangers (bacteria/viruses/etc.) or internal ‘defects’ (random mutations of genes/DNA), inherited or not. The net result is that people have very little doubt they’ll ‘catch’ a disease eventually, the only question is: “how can we make sure they (the doctors) will discover ‘it’ (the disease) as soon as possible in order to ensure the greatest chance to ‘beat it’ before it’s too late!” And the pharmaceutical companies are laughing all the way to the bank… I’ve found the best way to get rid of negative beliefs is to replace them with positive ones. ‘German New Medicine’ is a great (and much more accurate) replacement for the ‘Germ Theory’ (GNM) on which our ‘modern medicine’ is build. Einstein stated the importance of making a choice that you either live in a friendly (supporting) or hostile universe. I would say that people have to make a choice about their bodies being more than able to take care of themselves or they’re pretty poorly designed machines that break down all the time (the image ‘modern medicine’ pictures about ourselves). By the way, GNM has been demolished by the medical establishment, but… in spite of the fact that this theory about disease has been handed over to the university of Tübingen as a post doctoral thesis 35 years ago, it NEVER has been officially tested (although since then this theory has been verified by doctors more than 30 times already). On a personal level, it was GNM that spared a dear one from undergoing mutilating surgery (to be followed by the barbarian extremely poisonous ‘modern treatment’ of chemotherapy) – this was back in 2009 and after the malicious cancer disappeared ‘by itself’ (as set out by GNM) everything is still fine. I don’t know in how far the empowering influence of GNM is responsible for this little miracle, but I do know that my health also improved very significantly since I integrated this new way of thinking (believing) about ‘diseases’. Please people, take back your power and stop being ignorant victims of big pharma and other big money institutions.

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