The Great American Placebo Heist

placebo heist

A big part of how we get well is the placebo response: thinking we are getting better makes us better. And doctors know this; over half routinely prescribe placebos to patients (Tilburt et al 2008).

Whoever has the authority to control the placebo response will become rich and powerful. A doctor could give you sugar pills and you’d get 30% to 75% better. But who has the right to give out “sugar pills”? Today, the government authorizes control of the placebo response to doctors and large corporations, which is unfortunate since doctors and corporations tend to harm benelles, the foundation of health.

In many cases, placebo response accounts for more than half the value of treatment. It explains 75% of the effect of antidepressants (Sapirstein et al 1998), 70% of treatment benefit for herpes simplex virus (Koutts et al 1975), and 30% of the treatment benefit for ulcerative colitis (Benedetti et al 2008).

But tying the placebo response to synthetic chemicals is a bad idea, for a number of reasons. Firstly, It promotes disease and cancer by elevating the importance of synthetic drugs over natural and organic treatments, which would offer the same placebo response but without cell injuries. Secondly, there’s harm from fragmenting health treatment into the hands of a million “specialists” whose only way to make money in their tiny window is to prescribe, prescribe, prescribe. Lastly, there’s great systemic cost because each unnecessary doctor visit leads to additional tests and additional drugs, creating a vicious cycle.

Thus, the poor quality and high cost of American healthcare are closely tied to the profitable regulation of the placebo response. The government has essentially mandated that Americans must treat chronic disease with harmful chemicals—prescribed only by licensed doctors. At the same time, the government frequently sees what most anyone could have—natural cocoa, raw nuts, organic garlic, raw honey, sunlight—as hazards instead of benelle medicine. Predictably, adding daily doses of powerful synthetic chemicals atop chronic illness and processed chemical diets leads to…higher levels of sickness and more medical treatment.

Granted, some of the guilt lies with individuals. People could simply stop going to doctors, stop taking prescriptions, and learn to live in a healthy way. But very few people have time for that, and the government makes it incredibly difficult to find health specialists outside of Pharma Parkway. Sadly, there are a large number of people that would make difficult structural health changes (getting more sunlight, eating more cinnamon, etc) but are too afraid because they have been brainwashed to believe that doctors and modern medicine hold all the answers; thus they surrender the placebo response to rich salesmen.

Most of today’s gains in health and longevity come from gains in food supply constancy, and better forms of shelter, including climate control. B.C., one bad food week could kill you; A.D. a “bad” food week means you put on five pounds. Again, health gains do not come from more powerful antibiotics, or more potent synthetic drugs. Indeed, the super-antibiotics being engineered to combat the superbugs we have created will probably begin to shorten our lifespans over the coming decades.

Since the 1950s, it’s a common belief that we are getting ahead of sickness and disease. That our technology will somehow outdistance bacteria, viruses, and chronic illness. Companies rode that zeitgeist to untold levels of fake medical studies, spurious patents, damaging radiation, and DNA-fraying synthetics. All this made a few very rich, at the redistributing hand of the government, and at the expense of damaged health for millions. Not only is this foolish and blatant profiteering, it has caused us to leave behind many of the habits and natural remedies that used to protect our health.

In my household, we have taken back the placebo response from the government and from doctors. My children now see doctors as peddlers of synthetic chemicals with harmful side effects, and proactive radiological scans as voluntary DNA damage.

On the other hand, when my kids have a stuffy nose and can’t sleep, they have come to expect that a freshly cut onion on their pillow will make them breathe normally within a few minutes. And it does. How much of this magic is the onion, and how much is the placebo response? Who knows; who cares. The onion fixes their stuffy nose without causing DNA damage to their benelles, thus making them healthier in both the short-run and the long-run. The end result: a virtuous cycle of increasing health, lower medical bills, and faith in our health.

As an individual, as a parent, the placebo response is one of the most powerful health elixirs. Unfortunately, there’s been a heist; the government and business interests have stolen away the highly-profitable placebo response. Positive natural gene expression is bad for the economy; your getting healthy naturally doesn’t make anybody else rich. Unfortunately, Americans no longer have the right to financially abstain from a dangerous medical system. Fortunately, as long as they pay for medical insurance, they can still choose to say “no thanks anyway”.

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