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The Power of Positive Thinking

A study recently published by Boston researchers suggests that patient's expectations can make a big difference in how they feel after treatment for a migraine.

The researchers recruited 66 migraine patients in hopes to quantify how much of their pain relief came from medication and how much came from what's called the placebo effect, the healing power of positive belief.

After 450 headaches later, they reported that it's important for doctors to carefully choose what they tell patients about a powerful medicine because the message could help enhance its benefits, or blunt them.

Here is how the study worked. First, the patients who suffer from regular migraines agreed to forgo pain relievers for several hours during one attack, recording their symptoms for comparison with later headaches.

Then, for their next six migraines, the patients were given a different pill inside an envelope with a different message. Sometimes they were told it was an effective migraine drug named rizatriptan, a positive message. Or, they were told it was a placebo, a dummy pill, suggesting no benefit at all. And then at other times, they were told the pill could be either one, a neutral message.

Sometimes, the messages were true, they were told they got rizatriptan, and they did, other times, the messages were false and the pills had been switched.

Mixing up the possibilities allowed the researchers to tease out how the same person's pain relief differed from migraine to migraine as his or her expectations changed. 

The study found that the real migraine drug worked better, but, people who knew they were taking a placebo still reported less pain than when they had left their migraine untreated.

Patients' report of pain more than doubled when they were told the migraine drug was real than when they were told, falsely, that it was fake. Actually, people reported nearly as much pain relief when they took a placebo that they thought was the real drug as they did when they took the migraine drug while believing it was fake.

Source: Huffington Post

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Monday, 20 August 2018