Placebo may perk up the body’s healing powers

The placebo, which is an inactive treatment commonly called a sugar pill, is a tool usually used in the testing of new drugs. Test subjects receiving the new drug should show a big improvement over those taking the fake.

It’s called the “placebo effect.” It refers to real or imagined improvement people experience taking a placebo or fake drug.

While the effect is most pronounced in cases of pain relief or depression, where some 35 percent of those taking the fake pill feel better, there is evidence that it can do other thing, such as lower cholesterol levels, and decrease asthma attacks by about 10 percent.

Sometimes people believe so strongly in the medicine’s healing power that their expectations trigger the release of body chemicals that help them heal. A strong belief in their doctor’s skill in prescribing medications also has a positive effect.

Doctors at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore say it would be wrong to think that the placebo effect is just imagined. Observable healing is common among placebo takers.

The doctors say it could be possible that psychological factors do initiate true healing in ways they cannot yet fully explain. One thing this could mean to all patients: Believing a medicine will work might actually improve its performance.

New discoveries about healing foods

discoveries healing foodsScientists are continually adding to what we know about the health benefits of various foods. For example:
Whole Grains: Don’t like broccoli? Eat whole grains instead. University of Minnesota researchers have discovered that whole grains deliver an army of phytonutrients that do almost as much as fruits and vegetables.
Cherries: They’re an all-natural pain reliever that may even relieve the intense pain of gout (if you can eat a couple of dozen of them). Scientifically, cherries reduce C-reactive protein in the blood, which the body produces in response to acute inflammation, according to the Western Human Nutrition Research Center at Davis, Calif.
Yogurt: Those that contain “live” or “active” cultures help fight illness and disease. It is the most popular food containing probiotics. New studies found that yogurt greatly improves a person’s ability to fight off pneumonia.
Salmon: Eating salmon reduces blood pressure and cholesterol. Salmon helps prevent heart disease because of its healthy content of omega-3 fatty acids. Now researchers at the University of California report that a higher intake of omega-3s preserves bone density, keeping bones stronger. If you don’t like salmon, eat more tuna or sardines.
Cabbage: Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli have anti-cancer properties. But new studies show cabbage is in a class by itself. In addition to its tendency to protect against breast cancer, the sulforaphane in cabbage protects against lung, stomach, and colon cancers. Sulforaphane stimulates cells to eliminate cancerous substances. Eat cabbage by itself or add it to soups and salads.