Placebos: How Docs Are Using Fake Medicine to Shut You Up
Every day I hear another story that shows that the medical establishment on the whole is in a downward spiral it couldn't pull out of even if it wanted to. I'm not convinced it wants to.
The medical journal BMJ just published a study that showed half of all American doctors surveyed regularly prescribed placebos to their patients instead of an actual drug. American docs aren't alone: Similar surveys in other countries like the UK, Denmark, Sweden, and New Zealand found that the practice seems to be global.
In other words: Doctors tell you they're giving you one thing, and then they prescribe you another. And they're not just prescribing harmless sugar pills-they're doling out headache medicines (aspirin), vitamin pills, and very often antibiotics and sedatives. Imagine being given a sedative without knowing it! Does something seem wrong with this picture?
Franklin G. Miller, one of the authors of the study and the director of a research ethics programs at the National Institutes of Health, said the study should give doctors "pause" about whether they are engaging in "deception" with their patients. I say…
It should give you more than pause-it should be a huge red flag.
Once the trust between doctor and patient is compromised, forget it. It's not just that the patient won't believe his doc when it comes to drugs-he won't believe him when it comes to anything. Good luck coaxing a patient into lifestyle changes when he thinks you're a fraud…
The problem is, the solution being proposed by medical ethicists is almost as bad as the problem itself. Instead of suggesting that doctors stop prescribing placebos altogether, these nut jobs want doctors to actually tell their patients what they're doing!
The very essence of a placebo is that the patient believes it to be an actual drug, and then the power of suggestion and positive thinking do the rest. What patient would take a placebo, knowing that it's a placebo?
Doctors argue that many "conditions" such as fibromyalgia are merely psychosomatic. So the question is, is it better to pass out doses of colored aspirin rather than pumping their patients full of useless drugs with more serious side effects?
One doctor said that sometimes doctors use placebos as a fallback in situations where patients insist something is wrong, and yet the doctor can't find the source of the ailment. They're using placebos to treat what Miller calls "difficult patients."
That's right-they're prescribing phony pills to shut you up
There are a lot of folks who will tell you that the placebo issue isn't black and white. The heck it isn't. Anyone who could be cured by a placebo-as in, they're not sick in the first place-deserves some straight talk. But such lengthy appointments could make doctors late for their afternoon golf games.
So how do we solve this problem? Simple. The first solution is for doctors to stop prescribing placebos in the first place.
Second, your doctor should take the time to learn what's at the root of your problem, instead of simply throwing pills at you-placebo or otherwise.
About the author
William Campbell Douglass I.I., M.D. has been called "the conscience of modern medicine."
You can sign up for his "Daily Dose" at DouglassReport.com.