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Re: results of placebo v. placebo study Larry Hoover

Posted by Racer on February 5, 2006, at 13:17:27

In reply to Re: results of placebo v. placebo study ed_uk, posted by Larry Hoover on February 5, 2006, at 12:13:44

> > Hi Zeugie
> >
> > What do you think of this........
> >
> > http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=12640329&query_hl=35&itool=pubmed_docsum
> >
> > Ed
>
> That is just plain bizarre. It was an open trial. The subjects knew the pills were inert. Yet four people dropped out due to adverse effects, and anxiety was reduced by 63%? Amazing.
>
> Being an open trial, however, you have to wonder just how much interaction occurred between the subjects and the doctors. Wanting to please the doctor can be a powerful confound, apart from the placebo aspect. Is there any placebo effect in an open trial?
>
> Lar
>

My guess would be "yes, there is a placebo effect in open trials, too." And not because it's psychosomatic, either. Those "inert" pills? How do we know that they're truly entirely inert in every way in every body? Obviously, we can't know that exactly, but how do we know that the 'inert' pills weren't, say, filled with cornstarch, and given to someone whose body has a hard time metabolizing starches without some fat? Or that they didn't raise someone's blood sugar? My guess is that there was some effect from the inert materials, and that "inert" in this case means "we don't know of anything it does, so it doesn't do anything."

Of course, that's based not on any knowledge, but only on my own superstitions. No doubt someone here knows much more (id est: anything at all), and can set me straight on this.

But I do find this an interesting subject. Who knows? Maybe we'll find that cornstarch is an effective treatment for something, just because the placebo had an effect in these studies...


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