[lit-ideas] Re: The flu

  • From: "Andreas Ramos" <andreas@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 28 Nov 2004 15:49:27 -0800

> Colds and other sickness relief is often a result of the
> placebo effect.  The placebo effect is so powerful and so
> quantitatively measurable that people with Parkinson's disease and
> knee problems have reported improvement of symptoms from placebo
> treatments.  It might be why chicken soup "works".

There is no placebo effect.

Researchers put patients with diseases in three groups: Group 1 got treatment, 
Group 2 got a 
placebo, and Group 3 got nothing.

Group 2 and 3 had the same results (some got better, some got sicker). The 
placebo had no 

The explanation is that if you get sick, most likely, you'll get better very 
soon anyway. 
Most people shake off most illnesses anyway, REGARDLESS of what they do (take 
chicken soup, 
vitamin C, dance with serpents, pray to their local sun god, a shot of whiskey, 
etc.) or do 
nothing about it at all.

See the study by A. Hróbjartsson & P. C. Götzsche, 2001 on the placebo effect.

"A. Hróbjartsson & P. C. Götzsche found that in many studies where a control 
group was used 
that did not get any treatment at all, the effects in the no-treatment group 
were almost 
equal to the effects in the placebo group. Most studies however only use a 
placebo group as 
control. The authors concluded that the placebo effect is overrated, and that 
studies in the 
future should have a no-treatment group when possible, to make sure that 
effects would not 
be attributed to a placebo effect while they are totally natural effects that 
would have 
occurred anyway. In a follow-up study (A. Hróbjartsson & P. C. Götzsche, 2004) 
the same 
authors were able to confirm their previous results and concluded: "We found no 
evidence of 
a generally large effect of placebo interventions. A possible small effect on 
patient-reported continuous outcomes, especially pain, could not be clearly 
from bias".


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