God Said Man Said

God’s Brain and Harnessing the Placebo

In this feature, we are addressing what medicine calls the placebo effect, an internal God-design to help heal and make buoyant the mortal man. Faith and hope are the root of this powerful phenomenon and harnessing this natural/supernatural wonder is wondrous to behold.
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God’s Brain and Harnessing the Placebo

Article#: 1680

Bits and pieces of the concept laid out in this prelude have been published by GodSaidManSaid in the past, and surely it is marvelous to consider.  The serious inquisitor who is searching for proof that the God of the Bible is the God of All will need to look no further. 

Every book ever written—according to the web, 134,021,533 have been catalogued as of mid-2016—must, by necessity, bow before the Word of God found in the majority-text Holy Bible.  Yes, every single book ever written will, by necessity, genuflect before the Holy Bible. To many, that idea will seem absurd, but consider Romans 14:10-11:

10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.  

The Word of God is not a physical thing made up of printer’s ink and paper, but instead a living, spiritual organism.  This principle is demonstrated in the Gospel of John, chapter one, verse one:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

How glorious is John 1:14:

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

When Jesus Christ returns to this world in judgment, Revelation 19:13 speaks of Him in this way:

And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

Consider Revelation 1:7-8:

7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

The Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and, as one Biblical historian rightly noted: and every word in between.  All of the writings of men—good and bad—all the words they have penned—good and bad—will, by necessity, bow their knee. 

There is no book like God’s beautiful book.  This book says in John 3:3, you must be born again:

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Have you been born again?  Have you been born a second time, this time of the Spirit of God?  Will today be the best day of your life, where all your sin and shame are washed away by the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ?  Will today be the day where all of Satan’s bondages are broken? The choice is yours to make.  The prophet Joel wrote:

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

Today is your valley of decision.  Bow the knee and choose Christ.  Click onto “Further With Jesus” now for childlike instructions and immediate entry into the Kingdom of God.  NOW FOR TODAY’S SUBJECT.

GOD SAID, Hebrews 11:1:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

GOD SAID, Hebrews: 6:18-19:

18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

GOD SAID, Proverbs 23:7:

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:

GOD SAID, Psalm 119:49-50:

49 Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.

50 This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.

MAN SAID: We have no need of the Bible’s God.  The more our science increases, the more irrelevant this mythical God will be! 

Now THE RECORD: Welcome to GodSaidManSaid feature 888 where the Word of God will be certified inerrant for the 888th glorious time.  All of these beautiful features are archived here in text and streaming audio for your edification and as a platform from which to convince the gainsayer that Jesus Christ is the Lord of Glory.  Every Thursday eve, God willing, they grow by one.  Thank you for visiting today.  May the marvelous countenance of our God shine upon you and all your house. 

Psalm 139:14: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  We have been fearfully and wonderfully made to live, function, and interface with the Spirit of the God who created us. 

Faith, hope, and charity (I Corinthians 13:13) are foundational to all we are called to attain to in Christ.  Of faith and hope, Hebrews 11:1 reads:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

In this feature, we are addressing what medicine calls the placebo effect, which is an internal God-design to help heal and make buoyant the mortal man.  Faith and hope are the root of this powerful phenomenon and harnessing this natural/supernatural wonder is wondrous to behold.  Several excerpts from previous GodSaidManSaid features follow, and then some of the latest research will be presented. 

Faith and hope are very similar, but also dramatically different.  What science calls the placebo effect is known in the Word of God primarily as hope, but there is a giant difference you need to keep in mind as you read this feature.  The placebo is hope placed in a fraud—hope placed in an untruth.  Godly hope is placed in a promise of God, which is the truth and something the childlike are certain will come to pass—and come to pass it will.  The concept of the placebo and faith are similar, but the difference is stark. 

Some skeptics have attributed miraculous healings to the placebo effect, not considering that God created the human mind, spirit, soul, heart, and body to interact directly with faith and hope. 

▶ GodSaidManSaid feature, “Far Better than Placebo Power:”  

Dr. Howard Brody, M.D., Ph.D., titled an article in a 2000 issue of Psychology Today, “Mind over Medicine.”  Part of the subhead reads, “Diseases and disorders are hardly ever ‘all in your head,’ but often the power to heal is.”  [End of quote] The power of words is immeasurable. 

You’re aware of the placebo effect.  In clinical measurements, for instance, a proposed medical remedy is measured by taking a group of people and distributing the correct medical product to part of the group and a harmless sugar pill—or placebo—to the other part.  Results are then tabulated.  According to the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, the placebo (sugar pill) clocks in with a cure rate of 33%, which is sometimes higher than the proposed remedy that is administered.  They also discovered that the benefits of the fake placebo spikes measurably upward if the doctor talks up the benefits of the fake placebo.  It’s a matter of words.  Converse to the placebo effect is an effect now known as the nocebo effect, which is the simple, measurable result of negative words.  [End of quote]

Positive, uplifting silent and spoken words release the power of the placebo effect.  What medical science calls the placebo, the Word of God calls hope.  The placebo is spawned in hope—or rather, it is hope itself. 

Hope is dramatically different than wishing.  The basic definition of the Biblical word hope is "looking forward to something you are certain will come to pass."  The certainty in the equation is called faithHebrews 11:1:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 

Example:  The blessed hope, which is eternal life in Christ Jesus, speaks of a city that Christ is preparing for those who love Him, called the New Jerusalem that comes down out of God’s new heaven to His newly created earth.  Our faith in God’s Word gives substance to this city of hope.  Faith gives it its foundations, walls, gates, and dimensions. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.”

What science calls placebo, the Bible calls hope.  Medical researchers are shocked at what they’re finding.  Discover magazine’s July/August 2014 publication, in an eight-page spread, addresses the subject of the placebo effect.  The subhead of the feature reads, “Once dismissed as a psychological curiosity, the placebo effect is now recognized as the key to the brain’s ‘inner pharmacy.’ If only doctors knew how to open the medicine cabinet.”  Excerpts from the article follow:

The new evidence has established that placebos trigger the brain’s “inner pharmacy”—in essence, a warehouse perpetually stocked to deliver active drugs to itself.  In addition to improving Parkinson’s symptoms, that same inner pharmacy can affect conditions like pain, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, schizophrenia, and more.  As the placebo effect emerges from a long history in the shadows, the new question is:  How can we use this age-old brain trick to our advantage?

When Wager analyzed subjects’ brain activity, he found that people who reported the greatest relief after receiving a placebo also showed the strongest reduction in activity in the ACC, the thalamus, and the insula, all evolutionarily primitive brain structures that respond to physical pain. 

Suddenly, it was clear that when a patient improved on placebo, it wasn’t just some delusion or an effort to please a person in a lab coat.  It was a measurable brain event and reflected an actual reduction in the experience of pain. 

Today, placebos are widely recognized not as a psychological mirage, but as a potent inner pharmacy that we might someday even harness. 

But the real placebo revolution may be in reshaping clinical practice.  Jensen says many doctors cripple their chances of leveraging the placebo effect by acting disinterested or lacking confidence with patients.  She would know:  When she started out, she had trouble eliciting a placebo effect.  It was the doctor, not the patient, who had to change in order to boost the placebo.  She learned to exude confidence and crafted a warmer manner, and her patients began to respond.  [End of quotes]

Joseph Hallinan, former writer for the Wall Street Journal and Neiman Fellow at Harvard University, is a Pulitzer Prize winner and the author of a new book titled Kidding Ourselves.  The subhead of his book reads, “The Hidden Power of Self-Deception,” and among other oddities, he addresses the placebo and nocebo.  Several paragraphs follow:

Consider a common condition like asthma.  It’s a long-term disease that inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs, making it difficult, and even impossible, to breathe.  Asthma afflicts an estimated 300 million people worldwide, about 25 million of them in the United States, and it is often fatal.  In 2009, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 3,300 Americans died from asthma attacks, or about nine every day. 

Asthma attacks are typically treated by having patients inhale albuterol, a drug that relaxes muscles in the airways.  But research has shown that asthma patients who take albuterol don’t feel much better than those who are treated with a placebo inhaler.  In one recent test, asthma patients who got albuterol reported a 50 percent improvement in their symptoms.  But those who got fake albuterol said their symptoms improved by almost as much—45 percent.  Only when the researchers measured the patients’ ability to force air from their lungs was the benefit of albuterol clear.  The volume of expelled air improved by 20 percent with the drug, versus a 7 percent increase in patients getting the fake drug. 

And the more we believe, the better they work.  In 2009, for instance, the American Lung Association conducted the largest and most comprehensive study to evaluate the effectiveness of placebos in the treatment of asthma.  Its study found, as did the asthma study mentioned previously, that placebos do indeed work.  But they also found something else:  a placebo worked better if doctors bolstered the patient’s belief in its effectiveness.  Patients in the study reported that their asthma control and asthma symptoms “were generally improved by the optimistic message that encouraged expectation of benefit in the placebo group.”  In fact, researchers reported, the effect of the optimistic placebo presentation was so large that it “had the same magnitude of effect on asthma control as did the active drug.” 

In the United States alone, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, 254 million prescriptions a year are written for antidepressants, making them the second most commonly prescribed type of drug, right after medications to lower cholesterol.  Yet much of the power of these drugs has been attributed to the placebo effect.  This has been documented by Irvin Kirsch, a well-known psychologist at Harvard Medical School and at the University of Hull in the U.K., and a leading researcher of antidepressants.  Several years ago, Kirsch and his colleagues obtained, from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the reviews of all placebo-controlled clinical trials initially submitted for the six most widely used antidepressant drugs approved between 1987 and 1999—Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Serzone, and Effexor.  Altogether, there were forty-two trials of the six drugs.  Overall, Kirsch calculated, placebos were 82 percent as effective as the drugs, as measured by the Hamilton Depression Scale, a widely used score of depression symptoms. 

Surgery, for instance, has long been known to exert a powerful placebo effect on the people who undergo it.  Yet doctors are often unaware that what produced the healing wasn’t the scalpel of the surgeon, but the imagination of the patient. 

This was vividly demonstrated more than a decade ago by a well-known surgeon from Houston, Bruce Moseley.  At the time, Dr. Moseley was a surgeon at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston and was also a team physician for the Houston Rockets professional basketball team.  Like many orthopedic surgeons, Dr. Moseley routinely performed a type of arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee, a procedure that usually involved scraping the joint and rinsing it clean.  This procedure was new but popular; it was performed more than 650,000 times a year in the United States alone.  Yet, for all its popularity, there was little evidence that the surgery actually worked. 

So, Dr. Moseley and his colleagues proposed to find out.  Doing this, however, required a bit of deception.  With the consent of hospital administrators, Dr. Moseley recruited 180 veterans with bad knees and divided them into groups.  Some received the real operation, but others got a sham surgery.  These patients were draped and prepped for surgery as usual.  Dr. Moseley even made tiny cuts on their knees so they would have souvenir scars afterward.  But then he did absolutely nothing to fix their knees; he simply closed them up and sent them home. 

The results of the experiment, which were later published in the New England Journal of Medicine, are a testament to the power of imagination.  Dr. Moseley and his colleagues found that the fake surgery worked just as well as the real one.  Even two years after the surgery, there were no significant differences between the two groups:  those who had received the fake surgery walked and climbed stairs just as well as those who had received actual arthroscopic surgery.  [End of quotes]

The student of the Scriptures knows what science is just now beginning to understand: We are literally made out of words and the words we bathe ourselves in will form our present and our future.  Proverbs 18:21:

Death and life are in the power of the tongue:

▶ GodSaidManSaid, “Nocebo, Placebo, and You:”

E.J. Langer, Ph.D., writes in Psychology Today, concerning the nocebo effect of some with a medical mindset, such as the use of the word remission.  She reports how two people being examined for cancer are diagnosed if one of the individuals has previously had cancer.  If both patients’ batteries of tests show identical readings in that both parties are free of cancer, the one who has had cancer in the past will be diagnosed as “in remission,” while the other patient who has never had cancer before will be given a clean bill of health.  The word remission certainly fits into the classic nocebo paradigm—a kind of waiting for cancer to return.  Dr. Langer said:

Language has the interesting property of being able to increase and decrease our perceptions of control.  Different word choices can direct our thoughts about a single situation in many different ways. 

Doubters, incessant moaners, and other types of pessimists, according to Doctors Brennan and Charnetski in their book, Feeling Good is Good for You, should be avoided like any kind of contagious problem because pessimism is a psychologically contagious disease.  In God’s system of mind control, these mindsets are commanded against—and yes, they are of nocebo kin.  [End of quotes]

The empirical data amassed concerning the placebo and nocebo effects is impressive.  In the February 2018 issue of Scientific American, science writer Claudia Wallis discusses the placebo effect in popular surgeries in an article titled “Why Fake Operations are a Good Thing.” She writes:

The headline reflected the results of a British study, published online last November in the Lancet, that used what is probably the best methodology for assessing a surgical procedure: sham surgery.  In this case, 200 patients with a blocked artery were randomly assigned to get either a real stent operation or a fake one.  In the real version, a surgeon snaked a balloon-tipped catheter through an artery in the groin or arm up to the blockage, widened the vessel by inflating the balloon, and then kept it open with a tube-like stent made of wire mesh.  In the sham procedure, a catheter was directed to the blockage, but the surgeon only pretended to do the rest.  The astonishing finding: there was no difference in how the patients felt six weeks after surgery.  Both groups reported less pain, and both performed better on treadmill tests. 

Stent operations, or angioplasties, are widely popular.  At least half a million are done annually around the world.  There is little question they are great for people in the throes of a heart attack but serious debate over their merits for other patients.  Multiple studies have shown that they do not lower the risk of heart attacks or death.  The main justification has been to relieve symptoms such as chest pain, known as stable angina, and shortness of breath.  The British study has now undercut that idea.  Giving drugs to control cardiovascular disease, as was done for all 200 patients in the study, along with lifestyle changes, appears to be the way to go for most people. 

How did an operation that now seems to have a rather limited application become such a blockbuster?  You might ask the same question about many other procedures.  Take arthroscopic knee surgery, the number-one most common orthopedic operation.  More than two million are done annually to tidy up ragged cartilage in people with arthritis and degenerative wear and tear in their knees, including a torn meniscus.  Yet sham surgery studies and other research have shown it offers no advantages for the vast majority of such patients.  They would do just as well with physical therapy, weight loss, and exercise. 

Consider this: before a new drug is approved for marketing, researchers must show that it is more effective than a sugar pill.  Not so for a new operation.  And yet surgeries have a much bigger placebo effect than drugs.  To quantify the difference, a 2013 meta-analysis looked at placebo effects in 79 studies of migraine prevention: sugar pills reduced headache frequency for 22 percent of the patients, fake acupuncture helped 38 percent, and sham surgery was a hit for a remarkable 58 percent.  “there’s a big placebo effect with any procedure,” says cardiologist Rita Redberg of the University of California, San Francisco.  [End of quote]

Releasing the power of the God-like brain between our ears is a Biblical directive.  We know this concept as putting on the mind of Christ, and it yields life-changing benefits—whether it is the opening of your pharmacy’s doors 24/7 and the healing of the flesh or a myriad of other marvelous blessings.  The human brain was created by God to flourish when faith and hope are lifted high.  What science calls placebo, God’s Word calls hope. 

The difference, though, of the placebo effect versus God’s hope could not be more stark.  The placebo is hope placed in a fraud.  The believer’s hope is founded upon the truth that never changes, which is backed by the entire supernatural Kingdom of God.  The results of the hope effect are 100% positive.

GOD SAID, Hebrews 11:1:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

GOD SAID, Hebrews: 6:18-19:

18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

GOD SAID, Proverbs 23:7:

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:

GOD SAID, Psalm 119:49-50:

49 Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.

50 This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.

MAN SAID: We have no need of the Bible’s God.  The more our science increases, the more irrelevant this mythical God will be!

Now you have THE RECORD.

 

 

 

 

References:

Authorized King James Version

GodSaidManSaid, “Far Better than Placebo Power

GodSaidManSaid, “Nocebo, Placebo, and You

Wallis, C., “Why Fake Operations are a Good Thing,” Scientific American, February 2018

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