Interesting discussion on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Inside Health’ about the placebo effect. There should be a transcript on the page, Ted Kaptchuk says some particularly intriguing things.

I’m a believer! Recent research seems to suggest that thoughts and feelings and unconscious processes etc. etc. do impact on our physical selves. Once upon a time anyone whose mind was suspected of influencing their body negatively was called crazy but there’s more and more recognition that ‘mind’ and body are one and the same thing.

I may have irritated the scientists here, but the above is my layman’s take on things.

You’ve ignited me Sybil! As in it’s this sort of thing that completely fascinates me. And I just love how we can (or indeed could) react so well to the ‘let’s see what it does’ even though both doctor and patient know it’s a placebo. Utterly fascinating. It also feels so much better to me than overly restricting what I might eat to get to the same place as I believe both issues are fairly similar really.

What I’ve found interesting on my PsA ‘journey’ (and incidentally I squirm at that term too but here it’s properly descriptive) is that when it first hit me the pain was hellishly intense. I was increasingly frankly frightened. And I found the decreasing level of incapacity just filled me with utter horror. Now though it’s never as intense, frightening or filling with me horror even though sometimes my capacity levels are just awful. The power of just ‘getting used’ things makes life just more liveable. That in turn makes me so much more open to the meds and seeing how they can improve things. The fear of the meds (although not quite vanished) is certainly not such a huge issue it used to be.


I sometimes wonder whether dietary changes can act as a placebo. I suspect that anything that gives hope helps me physically. Also anything that feels like taking control.

I think it’s the taking control thing that switches everything ‘on’ for most people. But in the article/program you shared about the placebo effect, it appears to be the ability of our subconsious saying ‘let’s give it a go’ regardless and in spite of, what we know consciously. That’s the bit that makes me so curious.

Of course my ‘taking control’ is spending the better part of this weekend researching, looking up studies of the success rate of switching from enbrel to humira and trying my hardest to understand why the scientists are now so exicted by attaching to IL numbers instead of being anti-tnf-a ing. Usually eating some toast on occasion too and if it’s late enough swapping the coffee for a glass of wine.:joy::joy::joy:

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I’m a grand fan of placebos for quality of life (disease control, not so much). I spoke to a pharmacologist about my daughter’s tummyaches and she recommended a placebo - I said it would be great if we could get them commercially - she says “you already can, it’s called homeopathy” :joy::joy::rofl::rofl:

I got some ginger tablets for her… better than nothing but a good case study where the real thing (ie panadol or nurofen) does have a higher success rate.


I agree, going down the placebo route is surely not advisable where available medication has been proved to control or cure! I’d imagine the only way this phenomenon might apply to controlling PsA is in the degree of effectiveness of the meds we take, if that.

IDK about the placebo effect, but I sure know that taking a small dose of Zoloft (Sertraline) 25mg has worked wonders for me! I used to have PsA in the back of my mind all the time…now I don’t. I’m still affected by the disease and the damage it’s done to me, but somehow it isn’t as much of a concern.
I do agree that placebos can be beneficial in some cases, but I’m wondering if more for the extreme hypochondriac who has (or thinks they have) every ailment someone else has or they’ve heard of and complains constantly, yet lives a normal life and seems to cope as long as they’re having fun. I know many of us—including myself—can look and act like we’re feeling ok for the most part even though we’re dealing with some sort of pain all of the time…
But, we don’t go on and on about it and rarely even see a doctor for it because we’ve gotten so used to it that it’s just something we manage without pain pills.
Giving people placebos kind of reminds me of misdiagnosing or “under diagnosing” PsA as being mild when it’s severe and not treating them properly from the start. I’m hoping doctors wouldn’t make a common practice of it. Seems risky.


I think the recent thinking is quite different from the 'give 'em something to shut ‘em up’ approach. But rather an interesting possibility for people with severe conditions & incapacitating pain that nothing else touches, for example, with their agreement. I’m not trying to suggest that we take random pills and hope for the best, but I think this area of research could, in time, add to our understanding of how our bodies / minds work in tandem.


Here’s another good article:


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