Doctors Are 9,000 More Times Dangerous Than Gun Owners!

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Winston Churchill, Britain’s wartime prime minister, remarked, “To almost every question there is an answer that is clear, concise, coherent and wrong!”

For years we’ve been told that anti-depressant drugs were the be-all and end-all for depressed patients.

Recent Report

Now, a recent report claims that placebos are just as effective for many patients. So should doctors use placebos (dummy pills) to trick patients? The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) helps to answer this dilemma.

Opponents of placebo therapy say physicians should never resort to deception. They argue that placebos have no therapeutic value and should be consigned to the Dark Ages. After all, this is 2008, the age of scientific medicine.

But how scientific have we been in the recent past? Henry Beecher, a former professor of anaesthesia, Harvard Medical School, argued in 1956 that all drugs should be tested with double-blind studies. This would determine whether a drug worked better than a placebo.

Physicians were shocked to find that 650 of their time-honoured drugs were duds! They were quickly pulled off the market.

Dr Beecher carried out further studies. He confirmed that placebos cured 58% of those complaining of seasickness and 33% of those in pain. Placebos also helped 35% of those suffering from angina, headaches, tension, anxiety and the common cold.

Dummy pills even reduced the temperature of some patients with fever. And a few patients with Parkinson’s Disease improved.

Placebo: a prescription that is inert; that is, it does nothing, like a sugar pill or water. (From the Latin, I will please.)

Placebo effect- an effect, biological, biochemical or physiological, that emerges from an inert treatment because the patient believes it will work

Some interesting placebo facts…

--The colour of a placebo pill has a discernable effect; green and blue pills act as depressants; red pills act as stimulants…except in Italian men, for whom blue pills act as stimulants.

--Two sugar pills have a stronger placebo effect than one.

--Capsules are more effective than tablets; and placebos need not be in the form of pills: placebo injections, placebo radiation and even placebo surgery can all be effective.

--placebos are more effective when presented by health professionals of higher status than of lower status.

Frightening occurrence

A study at the University of Oklahoma reported a frightening occurrence. A patient suffering from anxiety was given a placebo. Fifteen minutes later his blood pressure fell, his skin became clammy and he collapsed.

High-priced psychotherapy has also been linked to an elaborate form of placebo therapy. In a study at Vanderbilt University, untrained college professors achieved the same results as well-trained psychologists when treating psychological problems in students.

Researchers have found that people can also become addicted to placebos. One schizophrenic patient became so addicted that she consumed 10,000 dummy pills over one year.

But not all placebos are pills. Danish surgeons divided patients with Meniere’s disease into two groups. Half-received the standard operation, the others were treated with a small skin incision. An equal number of patients were helped by the sham surgery.

But why had ineffective drugs worked so well in the past? Simply because television commercials claimed they were effective and million of viewers believed them. Besides, many over-the-counter drugs are used for ailments that are self-limiting in time. So patients get better whether they swallow a $20 drug, a sugar pill or pour themselves a scotch-and-soda. Tincture of time would cure them.

But is it ethical to use placebos? Sir William Osler, a great judge of human nature, once mused that it was the taking of pills that separated humans from animals. Today, he would roll over in his grave if he could witness the epidemic of “pillitis” among medical consumers. And the host of profit motivated companies willing to provide them with drugs of questionable value.

Argument for Placebos

The best argument for using placebos is that dummy pills don’t kill. And they protect consumers from their own folly. The philosophy “Let the buyer beware” simply doesn’t work when it comes to drugs. Too many people still naively believe they can find nirvana by swallowing a pill.

They forget that every drug must be metabolized by the liver and excreted by the kidneys. Moreover, there’s often a fine line between what’s tolerated by these organs and what destroys them. Drugs are the primary cause of accidental liver poisoning in North America. In fact, even seeking medical attention today is becoming more dangerous.

The U.S. Department of Health Human Services reports that there are 700,000 U.S. doctors and they cause 120,000 accidental deaths every year, or 0.171 accidental deaths per physician.

The FBI says there are 80 million gun owners in the U.S., which cause 1,500 accidental deaths per year or just 0.000188 deaths per gun owner.

It’s a trifle shocking that doctors are 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners! And almost everyone has more than one doctor.

Need I say more about placebos and doctors?

Written by a doctor, Dr Gifford Jones

Study Casts Doubt On Antidepressants

Thomas Moore
Health correspondent Updated:08:40, Tuesday February 26, 2008

Antidepressants are no more effective than dummy pills in most patients, researchers have found. Psychologists at the University of Hull say only the most severely depressed benefit from drug treatment.

Other patients should be given counselling, they say.

The researchers analysed clinical trials of newer SSRI antidepressants, including Prozac and Seroxat, that had been submitted to the US medicines regulator.

They found in most cases that patients given the active drug did only marginally better than those given dummy placebo pills.

The benefits were only significant in a small group of the most severely depressed patients.

Professor of psychology Irving Kirsch said: "Most patients can benefit as much from other treatment, such as physical exercise and psychotherapy, as they can from medication.

"Antidepressants should be reserved for patients at the very extreme levels of depression."

Paul Davidson has taken antidepressants for 10 years. But they were so ineffective he has twice tried to commit suicide.

He is now receiving counselling.

"It was that human touch in a safe environment that I've always needed. No medication could ever have done that for me," he said.

"It only hindered me. It made me tired, subdued and hyperactive."

NHS guidelines say GPs should use counselling in mild and moderate cases of depression.

But long waiting lists often force them to rely on medication.

Prescriptions for SSRI antidepressants hit 16.2 million in 2006 - up from 13.3 million in 2002.

Jane Harris, from the mental health charity Rethink, said: "It's no good giving antidepressants to someone who needs talking therapy.

"We need to respond to people's needs and give them eactly what they want.

"If you had someone with cancer you would not say we will give them a drug or give them chemotherapy.

"You would make sure both things were in place."

The Department of Health recently announced more funds for psychological treatments.

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Placebos--The Belief Effect.pdf1.84 MB
Deconstructing the Placebo Effect.pdf106.31 KB
Placebo Effect-- Physiological Changes.pdf246.07 KB