Modern medicine, which is so powerful in treating acute disease, is missing nearly 80 percent of what contributes to healing for patients with complex, multi-factorial, chronic disease. 1 Drugs do not heal these patients. The inherent healing capacity in each of us will produce most of their healing. But how do we better help patients tap into that healing capacity?
Within a clinical encounter, the ritual and context of a treatment enhance healing. These underlying processes impact us independent of the theory or content of a treatment itself, as shown by the placebo research literature. Ritual and context give the treatment meaning, resulting in measurable physiological and psychological changes that enhance healing. I call this the meaning response. Expectation, especially unconscious expectation, also contributes to the meaning response.
Through the evidence and ethical use of research on the placebo response, you can help your patients tap into their inherent healing capacity. This guide shows you how to integrate knowledge about the placebo response—which is better defined as a response to the context and meaning of a treatment instead of as an inert agent—into your practice.
Many of the 17 evidence-based ways to use the meaning response in your practice
highlighted in this guide are easy to use and don’t require extra time. This guide also offers a practical, systematic process for using this knowledge in your practice.
You can use research on placebo responses to enhance the healing response to any treatment. I hope that you find this guide a useful roadmap to harnessing the power of placebo in your practice.