When it Comes to Meds, Study Suggests You Feel What You Believe

Knowing I suffer from chronic migraines, my neighbor dropped off a newspaper article on a recent study titled,

“Study: Thinking positive helps migraine drug work,” by Lauran Neergaard AP, a medical writer.

The article is about a study that proposes that what a patient expects out of a migraine medication will make a huge difference in the results that patient gets from their meds.

Sixty-six migraine patients were recruited for the study, some were given placebos (dummy meds) in an effort to measure the amount of real med related pain relief vs. the amount of relief from patient’s confidence because of their doctor’s positive comments about the meds.

In the article, Ted Kaptchuk, a Harvard professor, suggests that each word the patient is told about their medication is just as important as the actual prescription.

After over 450 headaches were analyzed, researchers concluded how essential it was for doctors to prudently select their words to their patients when subscribing a powerful drug; as the doctor’s message could make or break the medicine’s benefits.

In the study, patients agreed to temporarily decline pain meds during a migraine episode, and logged their untreated migraine symptoms for later evaluation.

The patients were then given an unfamiliar drug in an envelope with a message for each of their following six migraines.  Sometimes, the messages were very positive, tooting the pain reliever rizatriptan’s horn, sometimes the messages informed the patients they were using a placebo, and sometimes the message they received was neutral, and they were not told which pill they had.

The messages were not always accurate as their meds were often covertly substituted by the testers in an effort to get accurate results.

Though the real migraine medication controlled the pain best, those knowingly taking a placebo described a milder headache than when they did not take anything at all.

The patient’s log of migraine relief were over 200 percent greater when they were told the pill they were taking was genuine, than when they were deceptively told they had a placebo,  when in fact they were given the genuine drug,

The patients had almost as much pain relief when they took a placebo but were told it was the migraine drug.  The more positive the message the patient got, the more relief the placebo provided.

The article goes on to say that it is a well-known fact in the scientific world that patient’s report “noticeable improvements” of pain and symptoms while prescribed placebos.  The article briefly talks about sham surgery.  When I looked this up I was completely taken a back that someone would be willing to be put under and cut when indeed there was no actual surgery performed, and that many of the patients reported positive results from such “surgery.”  In other words, the sham surgery has been used in some surgical studies, in the same way a placebo is used.

Scientists cannot explain why taking a placebo has actual biological benefits.

I believe we should spread the word to our friends in healthcare.

But, isn’t this in a sense that what God tells us over and over in the Bible.

He tells us how much He loves us.  He tells us constantly we are a treasure to Him, and tells us He is available to us as our Father.  He offers us so much goodness!

The God of the universe, can you believe that?

The scriptures tell us not to worry, not to hold grudges, to think good thoughts of others, to guard our hearts from pain and turmoil, and to not let negative thoughts roost in us.

Science for years has told us that anxiety, worry, stress, anger, resentment, unforgiveness, hostility, and many other negative traits can physically harm us.

In light of this, is it so surprising to read that wholesome words, positive thoughts, and confident thinking will do the opposite of the negative stuff; that optimism and encouragement will help us to feel better?

I think not.

My conclusion:  Genuine optimistic thinking can get one on a speedy road to recovery.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8  NIV

“A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22 NKJV

Incidentally, when was the last time you had a good laugh?

By ~ Elizabeth Yalian 2014 ©http://hiseyeisonthissparrow.com.

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Filed under Hope, Life Lessons, Life with Chronic Pain, Seeds of Inspirations, The Impossible

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