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IBS sufferers who know they’re taking a placebo still see big improvements

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IBS sufferers who know they’re taking a placebo still see big improvements

The extraordinary healing powers of our mind have been emphasised once again by a study of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) sufferers who reported major clinical improvements—after knowingly taking a ‘sugar’ pill, or placebo.

Sufferers who were given placebo pills—and were told they had no active ingredient—had ‘strong’ or ‘very strong’ clinical reactions, and their symptoms improved by an average of 70 percent over other sufferers who weren’t given any pills to take.

Researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre enrolled 262 IBS sufferers, aged between 18 and 80, who were given either a placebo, and were told they were, or were given peppermint oil or a placebo, and not told which they had been given, or weren’t given any pills.

The improvements were similar in both the placebo groups, although the researchers were surprised that the results from those who knowingly took the placebo were just as strong as those who didn’t know whether they were taking peppermint oil.

Both the placebo groups reported a 150 percent improvement in symptoms compared to a 12 percent score in the no-pill group. “If the presumption that deception is necessary for placebos to be effective is false, then many theories about the mechanisms that drive placebo effects may need modification,” said Ted Kaptchuk, one of the researchers.

Or, in other words, mind beats matter.

(Source: Pain, 2021; doi: 10/1097/j.pain; 00000000000002234)

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Article Topics: Irritable bowel syndrome
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