Day and Night – Placebo Max Strength



I am a modern chemist and druggist. My position on most herbal medicines, homeopathy, witchcraft, spiritual and other dodgy complimentary therapies is common knowledge. However a recent article in The Pharmaceutical Journal has challenged my stance just when I thought I was an expert in drug therapy. It got me a headache. I had to take a smartie to clear it.

In a study in 2010 a group of patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease were told 75% of them would get the drug, levodopa, which is known to increase the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain and improve mobility but 25% would get placebo (tablets with everything else but the drug).
Sophisticated brain scans showed dopamine had been released and mobility had improved in the group yet all the patients had been duped. None of them had been given levodopa, all of them had taken placebo. Abracadabra!
Seemingly, conditions which involve the nervous system like Parkinsonism and pain are more likely to respond positively to placebo.
day and nightplacebo_effectClever imaging of the brain has demonstrated that neuro chemicals have been released in ‘reward areas’ of the brain when placebo is given to relieve pain. We are also known to release opiods (morphine-like chemicals) and cannabinoids to relieve pain in response to placebo… The later chemical is in weed, you know. No wonder guerilla fighters could crawl over thorns after smoking ganja.
More recently, studies have shown that there are people with genetic faults which make them prone to respond to placebos for different conditions under different environments more than others.
The next thing coming then is GPs having a genetic data base of placebo responders so that when these present with neurological conditions a GP will just prescribe a smartie and save the poor soul side effects that are associated with real medicines. I shall be placing a load of sweets next to co-codamol.
The genetic placebo responders make a mockery of drug trials. If a group of them fall into the side that is given a new drug they will still respond better than the placebo group even though the new drug might be ineffective! Get it?
Back in the day, I was asked to take  a ‘totem’ aunt of mine to Parirenyatwa  Central Hospital in my Nissan Sunny; an ambulance would have been too expensive. On getting there, the attending doctor could not believe that the poor Watch Tower follower lady had just been taking some milk of magnesia from a tuckshop- her whole body was riddled with cancer. She passed away a day later. No painkillers!
My late grandmother thought the 75mg aspirin I had sent her from the UK had sorted all her joint niggles. I was amused, aspirin at that dose is supposed to just prevent blood from clotting. Was it her high pain threshold or the placebo effect?
A shroud paster is making a good dosh in Zim selling ‘anointed oil’ which is supposed to cure every ailment including bad luck. Apparently it works wonders. It must be their genes.


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