Tag: placebo

Are placebo effects genetically determined?

We frequently write about placebo effects here at SBM because understanding placebo effects is essential to understanding a lot of clinical trial science and, most relevant to the topics of this blog, how those promoting unscientific medicine misunderstand and misuse placebo effects to promote quackery. Last week, The NYT published an article asking if placebo effects are genetically determined. The evidence supporting...

/ November 12, 2018

Debunking the magical power of the placebo effect for chronic pain (yet again)

The opioid crisis and growing awareness of the dangers of addiction to pain medication are prompting renewed calls for the use of pill placebos in place of active treatments, backed by familiar claims about the magical powers of the placebo.

/ October 10, 2018

Naturopathy Textbook

The Textbook of Natural Medicine reveals what students of naturopathy are taught. It claims to be a scientific presentation, but it reveals just how unscientific naturopathy is. It mixes good science with bad science, pseudoscience, outright errors of fact, vitalism, philosophy, ancient history, superstition, gullibility, misrepresentations, metaphysics, religion, hearsay, opinion, and anecdotes.

/ August 14, 2018

Is the use of “Open-Label” Placebo Ethical in the Treatment of Children?

Is the use of "open-label" placebo ethical in pediatric medical care, or any care for that matter? A recent article in Pediatrics discussing this issue comes to a flawed conclusion based on a misunderstanding of placebo and of the literature on placebo without deception.

/ August 25, 2017

Can the mind really heal the body? The false narrative of placebo “healing” revisited

Placebo effects are inextricably bound to the question of whether the alternative medicine modalities that are being “integrated” into medicine actually have any useful therapeutic effects or not; i.e., whether they are merely placebos. Here, I examine an article in National Geographic that peddles the false narrative that placebo effects have real "healing" powers against diseases like Parkinson's disease.

/ December 12, 2016

On the pointlessness of acupuncture in the emergency room…or anywhere else

As incredible as it seems, advocates of "integrative medicine" are on the verge of creating a new specialty, emergency acupuncture. I wish I were joking, but I'm not.

/ July 25, 2016

The “It Worked for Me” Gambit

It is almost inevitable that whenever we post an article critical of the claims being made for a particular treatment, alternative philosophy, or alternative profession, someone in the comments will counter a careful examination of published scientific evidence with an anecdote. Their arguments boils down to, “It worked for me, so all of your scientific evidence and plausibility is irrelevant.” Both components...

/ April 20, 2016

Curse Removal from the Annals. More Acupuncture Nonsense.

A short post this week. Last weekend was a busy call weekend and as I type this I am heading for Palm Springs for a long weekend of hiking in the desert. If there is no entry in 14 days, look for my bleached bones somewhere in Joshua Tree. Some observations about a recent article in the once-respected Annals of Internal Medicine,...

/ February 5, 2016

Is “harnessing the power of placebo” worthwhile to treat anything?

We frequently write about placebo effects here on Science-Based Medicine. The reason is simple. They are an important topic in medicine and, at least as importantly, understanding placebo effects is critical to understanding the exaggerated claims of advocates of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), now more frequently called “integrative medicine” (i.e., integrating pseudoscience with science). Over the years, I (and, of course,...

/ January 11, 2016

Are Placebos Getting Stronger?

A new study looked at clinical trials for neuropathic pain over the last 23 years and found that the response of subjects in the placebo group has been increasing over time, but only in the United States. The cause of this increase is unknown, and has provoked a fascinating discussion about the nature of placebos and their role in medical research. What...

/ October 21, 2015