Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Resolutions are Healthier than Medicines

Beverly Sills - by Carl Van Vechten

“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”
 Beverly Sills

At this time of the year, we think of New Years Resolutions. We resolve to do better and to be better. 
are New Years Resolutions healthy? Do they make you healthier?
Many new year's resolutions are about health.  It's interesting to look at the hierarchy of healthicine, and see where we can make healthful New Year's Resolutions.   

A glance at The Hierarchy of Healthicine shows where resolutions can help us.  We can resolve to build healthy communities, healthy spirits, a healthy mind, and a healthy body.

We often make resolutions about nutrition - diet, which we believe will improve the healthiness of our bodies, thus our mind, spirits and communities. There are no medicines that can replace nutrition. No medicines better than resolving to improve your diet. 

We seldom make resolutions that address specific bodily systems or organs - with the exception of smoking.  Tissue healthiness, cell healthiness is tied to nutritional healthiness - and few people resolve to have 'healthier skin'. Most of us assume that our genetics are beyond our control. We cannot make resolutions that have a useful effect on our genetics. 
Medicine is designed to tackle specific illnesses, not healthiness.  Medicine focuses attention on specific organs, tissues and systems. There is no medicine for an unhealthy body, nor for a weak spirit. New Years Resolutions tackle aspects of health that are NOT well handled by medicines. Our communities, our spirit, our mind - medical systems hardly recognize these aspects of health. But our New Year's Resolutions work to improve them.  
Do our resolutions make us healthier? Of course they do.  The act of 'resolving' to make changes is healthy - even if some of the changes do not directly improve our health. 

According to the US Government website, the most popular New Year's Resolutions are: 
Drink Less AlcoholNutrition, Body
Eat Healthy FoodNutrition, Body
Get a Better EducationMind
Get a Better JobSpirit, Community
Get FitBody
Lose WeightBody
Manage DebtCommunity
Manage StressMind, Spirit
Quit SmokingBody, Respiratory system
Reduce, Reuse, and RecycleSpirit
Save MoneyCommunity
Take a TripSpirit, Community
Volunteer to Help OthersSpirit, Community

The important thing about New Year's Resolutions is choice. New Year's resolutions help us to exercise choice about our healthiness.  Even if our resolutions fail, we gain practice creating resolutions, and acting on them. When we resolve, we work to make a better world, to create a positive new beginning.
Healthiness is about balance - and balance is about movement.  New Year's resolutions require us to consider movement - and to act on our decisions.  This heightens our awareness, and ultimately our healthiness.

My resolutions for 2013?  I resolve to be happier in 2013. To be grateful for what I have.  That's for my spirit health. And I resolve to stand up for health, healthicine and health freedoms - for your health, for my health and for the community of healthicine
Everyone has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of healthiness. When we make New Year's resolutions, we are exercising this right.  Exercise makes us healthier, even exercising our rights.

to your health, tracy

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

NRA Admits Failure

Yesterday on the news, the NRA suggested that the government should put armed guards in every school to protect our children. This statement is, without doubt or confusion, an admission of failure.  

The failure is so clear that even sensible gun control detractors understand.

There are two important things to know about this failure of the NRA executive statement.

First, it is idiotic. Only a person or group suffering from severe delusions, or attempting to support a totally unreasonable position would suggest a solution that:

a) costs Billions of dollars.  About 100,000 schools * salary of $20,00 a year = 2 billion dollars - and then you need to add, probably 50% for 'administrative costs' - and God only knows how much more for legal costs. That's not counting private schools, after hours work (overtime), nor universities and colleges.  It's also not accounting for the fact that some schools have very small campuses and could (in theory) be covered by a single staff member - but others are huge.  And if you pay them more - you might get better quality staff.  Duh.

b) ignores the fact that the school killings were not just pre-meditated, they were planned, sometimes weeks in advance.  What 15 year old boy would NOT have the common sense to know that the first thing you do, if you want a free hand, is to kill the 'sleepy guard' who has guns, but has never had the need to use them on the job.  And what chance would the sleepy guard have against a juiced up, maniacal 15 year old in body armor with an assault weapon?

c) Or, if you, a deranged 15 year old, have no access to guns - simply break into the office of the sleepy guard who never uses them anyway. This proposed solution puts more guns in schools, where they can be misused, stolen, mishandled (accidents do happen) and where they present an image of killing power to all staff and students. A solution that would, in all likelihood, cause more deaths than it prevents. It also puts people 'who have physical power' in a school, with our children, where that power can easily be abused without firing the gun.

Second, the position of the NRA highlights a simple failure of democracy in the USA.

The position that every US citizen has the right to bear arms is based on simple concepts and understandings.  that:

No citizen can trust their governments.
No citizen can trust their corporations.
No citizen can trust their police.
No citizen can trust their neighbor.
No-one can trust anyone in authority.

Thus everyone needs the right to a gun to protect themselves and their rights.

This failure of trust is at the foundation of the so called 'democracy' in the USA.

Elections are not fought on the argument that our leaders can move our country towards a better world.  They are fought on the basis that 'that politician' (your opponent) cannot be trusted.  The planet is round, our world does not have 'sides'. But our democracy forces us to take sides, to view  members of governments, and candidates, as possible enemies.

Candidates promise to 'cut taxes and government spending', on the assumption that all governments and all government spending cannot be trusted.  Thus all taxes are bad. The assumption that it is not possible for governments to 'do good things'. Note: This assumption will extend to the spending on gun toting guards in schools as well. What goes around, comes around.

No candidate attempts to present a vision of government that, in the words of a famous Canadian, are designed to "make the world a better place".  (Tommy Douglas "Courage, my friend, it's not too late to make the world a better place.”)

If any politician dares to present a better world - they will simply not to be trusted.

Democracy has become distrustacy.

There is, simply, no attempt by any level of government in North America (Canada included) to 'make our world a more trusting place'. If our world was a more trusting place - governments would be more open and honest, corporations would be more open and honest, police and military would be more open and honest, even our courts of law would be more open and honest.

But our design and implementation of our so called 'democracy' specifically inhibits attempts to make things better.  At the same time, while encouraging distrust, it encourages secrets, which encourages lies.

How did this come to be?

This is not the fault of the NRA. It is not because of the NRA.

There is an interesting parallel to health.  Our so called 'health systems' are actually medical systems.  Medical systems look for problems.  Healthiness is ignored.  If you are 'healthy', your doctor doesn't want to waste time on you - there are too many sick people.

The only healthy people who have medical expert attempting to make them 'healthier' are elite athletes.  And in those cases, the focus is not actually on improving healthiness, it is on improving speed, strength, reaction time, etc. even at the risk of decreasing overall healthiness in the short term or the long term.

No one studies healthiness. No doctor has time to try and improve healthiness.  There are no PhDs of Healthicine - the arts and sciences of health and healthiness. 

The Hierarchy of Healthicine is a framework of healthiness from genetics, to nutrients to cells, tissues organs. It extends beyond the body, the mind, and the spirit to our communities.  Our families, our churches, and our various governments.

Our 'democratic election' process is designed to search for and high-lite problems, not successes. Our news reporting systems emphasize conflict, not success, exacerbating the problem. People actually 'fear' successful governments, on the assumption that 'reports of success' can only be a dangerous lie.

This ignorance of healthiness extends from our genetics to our communities, including our governments and the NRA.

How healthy is our government? What are the parameters that define a healthy government?  How might a healthy government improve the healthiness of their citizens from their genetics, to their nutrition, to their many communities?

At this time - these questions are mute, not moot. No one asks about the healthiness of government, all parties are interested in finding the 'illness' of government, so they might be elected based on the strength of their opposing views.

And the NRA statement speaks this nonsense clearly. They suggest MORE control, by putting armed guards in schools - and they claim that somehow this might give us more freedom.  It does not, more control generates more distrust. We don't need more adults to control the children.  We need to teach our children how to behave like adults.  We are all children.

We need more trust.  That's the foundation of freedom.

Let't take a fundamental look at the 'stated goals' of the NRA in this situation.  To make our schools (and other places) safe for our children.  We are all children.  We all need all of our places to be safe places.

Are our places safer if everyone has a gun?  Or if no-one has a need for a gun?  The answer is clear.

Where there is no need for guns, that place will be safe from guns.

If the NRA wants to work for the safety of all, they need to work towards a society where trust is higher than distrust. Where guns do not exist - in most places - because there is no need for guns.  Guns might still exist as toys - I'll admit they can be fun toys. But we need to work toward a society where guns, as weapons, defensive or offensive, are simply not needed.

We might ask, after all this discussion of healthiness, about the healthiness of the NRA?  The hierarchy of healthiness extends to communities and the NRA is a community.

How healthy is the NRA? 

It it is important to note that healthiness is not measured by illness.  Healthiness is not the 'opposite of sickness'.  Healthiness is about balance, has many components and is always in flux.  Rocks are not 'healthy'. They do not change, there is no balance.  Neither is a political position that is totally inflexible and immobile 'healthy'.

The response of the NRA to the school shootings is not just unhealthy, it is sick. Sickness, however, tends to be concentrated in a small part of a possibly healthy body - unless it becomes large enough to present danger to the entire body.  It is possible to have a cold and be perfectly healthy otherwise.  It is possible to cut your finger, and be perfectly healthy otherwise.  If you break a leg - it might have more of an effect on your overall healthiness, but take care. It's not difficult to imagine a situation where, a broken leg might cause an improvement in someones overall healthiness. It is possible for the NRA to be healthy, and have some sicknesses at the same time.

A measurement of the 'healthiness' of the NRA is independent of their position on guns or gun control.  But we don't even know how to measure the healthiness of our diets - much less the healthiness of our communities.

We don't know if the NRA is healthy or not. We don't study healthiness.

The right to guns, is lower on our priorities than the right to food, shelter, water, the right to medical care when we are sick, and the rights to travel and assemble freely, the right to safe schools. It is lower than the right to pursue happiness. If anything, the right to guns, is a sub-item of that right.

It's time to put our priorities in a proper sequence.

Everyone has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of healthiness. 

to your health, and your freedom,
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Microsoft HealthVault vs Google Health vs Personal Health Freedom

Wouldn't it be nice if you could keep all of your medical records in one place?  A central computer cloud like Microsoft's Skydrive or Google's Document service, automatically backed up and secured for you?

I recently went through a long series of tests (having just passed the 60 year milestone, or was that millstone?).  I called the clinic to see if I could get a copy of the results.  Well, yes, but the doctor has to be there to approve it.  Are they my records? or not?

I recently read "The Decision Tree: Taking control of your health in a new era of personalized medicine", by Thomas Goetz, and I came across a paragraph or two about Microsoft's HealthVault - and the Google competitor - Google Health.

According to Thomas Goetz, writing in about 2009, published in 2010, quoting Microsoft's Craig Mundie, "Medicine is about to go from analog to digital. This means that manual processes [like diagnosis] are moving to a set of automated processes.  Of course medicine, from a bureaucratic point of view, is resistant to this sort of reengineering.  So we wanted to see what Microsoft could do to anticipate these changes and introduce technology that makes it more graceful to move from the old model to a data driven model."

Wow, that sounds exciting.  And from the looks of things, it's had three or four years to mature.  Were do I sign up?

As near as I can tell, and I did a LOT of research, the best place to sign up is Germany.  But, you need to live there.  And get your medical work done there.  In theory, Microsoft's Health Vault is available in the USA, Great Britain, and Canada too.  But... from my lonely log cabin in in Alberta, Canada - NOT.

Germany seems to have the most advanced HealthVault services.  I'm not surprised.  The Germans are big on rules, regulations, lines and squares, order and consistency.  That should make HealthVault tools easier to develop and implement.

Unfortunately, in North America, our need for something like HealthVault is exactly the reason it doesn't work.

Or does it work?  Thomas Goetz wrote about the dream in 2009.  So did the American Medical Association and the Mayo Clinic. According to the Microsoft HealthVault Privacy Statement, it was launched in 2007?

But since 2009, the AMA and the Mayo Clinic websites have virtually nothing to say about the HealthVault. Now that's impact! (NOT).

The only references you will find relate to the fact the Google gave up on Google Health, and if you are a Google Health user, you can supposedly transfer your data to Microsoft's Health Vault - if you do it soon.  I guess even the massive Google doesn't think your health records are important enough to keep more than a few months.

What is it really?  What is Microsoft trying to build?  You can be sure that Bill Gates and crew are not in this business 'to make you healthier', they're in it for the bucks.

The best consumer description I have found to date is actually a marketing document from Telus, the provider of Microsoft HealthVault in Canada (but not Alberta, sorry).  You can view it here:
Microsoft (Telus HealthSpace) HealthVault. It does contain some contradictory statements, but hey, it's a marketing document - what did you expect?

Microsoft, it appears, is hoping that at some point, this will catch fire - and they will be the key player, in the middle between doctors, medical labs, and patients.  An enviable position. And to be honest, we do need someone in the middle.  I recently had an ultrasound.  I waited a week for results and then called my doctor.  But the results had not arrived.  I called the lab, to learn that they had sent the results to the wrong doctor. Presumably, the 'wrong doctor' ignored the 'irrelevant information' and my doctor didn't notice the absence of results.  The lab then, they said, passed the results on to the right doctor.  But what do I know??? Another week, I called my doctor and was advised that yes, my results had arrived, but because there was nothing to worry about, they didn't bother to call me.

I would like my results to come to me. And I send them to my doctor.  Or perhaps to come to both my doctor and to me, so I would notice if they were sent to the wrong doctor.

In my visit to my doctor, I also had a chance to take a peek at some of the lab results he received. To be frank, they appeared to be barely readable. Crappy copies of something printed on a crappy printer - poorly organized, I'm guessing each lab has their 'standard format', that does not conform to any other lab format. Am I wrong?

But evidently I don't have a right to my lab results. I can get them, if the doctor gives permission. There is legislation pending in the USA to give US citizens the rights to their lab results - but at present many US citizens also don't have a right to their lab results either.

So 2009 to 2012, three, or is it four years, and not much change in Microsoft Health Vault.

Where might it go?  Where should it go?

There are standard tests for most lab work.  There should be standard result formats.

I should have access to my results.

If I want a 'second opinion' for example, at present, I must ask my doctor to send my results to my 'second doctor'.  Will he send the entire file with all notes? Maybe.... If I have the file, I can send it myself. Not only that.  If I have the files, I can also send it to an electronic doctor.

Electronic Doctor?  What's that?  There have been a few tests done with computers 'assisting' doctors in diagnosis.  In some cases, doctors do better, but in many cases, computer programs can do better. And that's not all.  Computer programs can learn to improve their skills much better than a doctor, who is busy working.  And when new knowledge is available, computers can be re-programmed much more easily than a doctor.  And even more valuable - computer programs can give diagnostic 'alternatives' with measures of probability.  There is a 31 percent chance that you have "abcde", but a 24 percent you actually have "bcdef".  This valuable tool is almost unheard of in the medical profession.  But your doctor might not like to be 'challenged', nor 'informed by his patients' (or a computer).

When we truly have a Health Vault, with all of our health records, it will enable many diagnostic tools and techniques that are unavailable in today's poorly organized medical infrastructure.

I wish Microsoft great success with HealthVault - although I'm not holding my breath.

My personal opinion is that:

a) it will take (more) years for the HealthVault concept to become something useful
b) there will be lots of controversy along the way.
c) it is always possible that some other company will 'come up the middle (between Microsoft's HealthVault, Google Health, and whatever Facebook might be planning) and surprise us all.

I believe in the concept of a HealthVault.  Everyone should have access to their personal medical records, in one place.  Our medical infrastructure is, to be frank, making a big mess of it all. Just try to get all of your medical records into together - if you are the same age as me, it is not possible.  Many have been lost, forgotten or destroyed, even, in a few cases, stolen.  And that is not in the best interest of my health.

Unfortunately, as a result of my investigations into the German version of HealthVault, Microsoft's HealthVault is now convinced my computer lives in Germany.  The only way I can get to the US HealthVault site is to use a different browser than my favorite Google Chrome.  So, I head for Internet Explorer and Google to HealthVault USA - it gives me HealthVault UK.  duh.... At least I can try my Facebook ID from there without a translator. Nope.  Trying to log in with Facebook just trashes me out to the 'signup' page - an infinite loop of opportunities and refusals...

Everyone has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of healthiness.  Everyone has a right to access, store and control access to their medical records.

to your health. tracy


If anyone out there has actually used the Microsoft HealthVault, I'd love to see your input. I have looked at the introductory pages (and the promises I must lie to in order to get access), but I don't feel like lying to my computer again today. Alberta HealthVault?

From my lonely log cabin in Canada, I can I can point there, but all I get is an empty shell called No actual services. Not even a hint that has any concept of Microsoft's HealthVault. If you tell Microsoft's HealthVault site you live in Alberta, you will be directed to - and locked out of HealthVault.  It appears that, in only in Canada, Microsoft's HealthVault has been farmed out to Telus (except in Alberta).  I do wonder if there are different providers for every state in the union?

Of course you can lie to computers.  Frankly I seem to be forced lie to my computer EVERY DAY anyway. I've learned that lying to computers is something we take for granted.  I am constantly asked to "check that I have read and understood ... blah, blah, blah" - computers MUST be lied to if you want to get anything done. I could tell HealthVault that I live in New York, or Berlin, or Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  Maybe that would give me access?  Unfortunately, even if I have an ID, it won't give me access to services from local doctors - because Alberta has not signed on.  But it might let me enter my own information (if I can get copies).  Even that would be an important step.

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Placebos, Nocebos, and the Spirits of Healthicine

Our medical system is less comfortable and less effective as studies and results move from the body to the mind, from the mind to the spirit, and from the spirit to the community.  Each of the top layers of the hierarchy of healthiness is studied with fear rather than with respect by science and medicine.

The placebo effect is one of the most misunderstood, misrepresented, and maligned effects of health and medical products. That's because placebo effects are just a technical name for the spirit, which medical science refuses to acknowledge.

Placebo is an interesting word, the definition of which helps to create an incorrect view.  Placebo, according to Webster, is "a usually pharmacologically inert preparation prescribed more for the mental relief of the patient than for its actual effect on a disorder". Written as if placebos do not provide physical relief.  But they do.

Many doctors prescribe 'placebos' because they recognize that mental relief is an important aspect of physical relief. 'So called' mental relief is often accompanied by physical relief. Even if they don't understand the details, these doctors are not 'deceiving', they are acting in the best interests of the patient. They often prescribe 'patent medicines' that, in theory, will have no effect on the condition, rather than an alternative medicine - because paying more, and going to a pharmacy, increases the placebo effect. Some doctors recognize that drugs with an actual effect - not specifically related to the patients (untreatable by medicine) condition have a stronger placebo effect.  The most effective placebo is often not an inert pill, but one that the patient can 'feel working'.

The Placebo Effect has three parts:

1. The basic placebo effect is an increase in a patient's response to a treatment.  It doesn't matter if the treatment is a patent medicine, an alternative medicine, a surgery, or a prayer - all treatments benefit from the placebo effect.

2. The nocebo effect (a reverse placebo effect) can increase your awareness of, or the presence of side effects of a treatment, even to a placebo (null) treatment, or from a diagnosis. In some cases nocebo effect can result in death where there is no danger.

3. Regression to the mean is a natural physical process that moves statistical outliers back to the normal range. It works equally well with golf tournaments, coin tosses, protest movements, as well as health and medical conditions.

The placebo effect, and the nocebo effect (but not regression to the mean) are effects that lie on the layers of body and mind, and of mind and spirit.

Drug manufacturers hate the placebo effect, because it forces them to try and do better than mere 'suggestion'. As if that was a false requirement.  Drugs also benefit from the placebo effect.  And can be degraded by the nocebo effect.

Doctors (and others) often claim that the effects of 'alternative' medicines are entirely due to the placebo effect. This allows them to ignore 'facts' in favour of untested 'fictions'.

Neither seriously considers the symptoms of healing or healthiness. What are the symptoms of healing?  How does the placebo effect affect the symptoms of healing? What are the symptoms of healthiness?  How does the nocebo effect affect the symptoms of healthiness?

Studies of the nocebo effect are generally aimed at minimizing its effect in patients. But, it's strange to note that studies of the placebo effect are also aimed at minimizing it, even though it has a positive effect on patients health.

Almost everyone ignores, or is ignorant of 'regression to the mean'.

Scientific studies often ignore 'regression to the mean'. Even though it has a huge effect on results. Scientific studies of medicines typically compare a 'product being tested' vs a placebo. So, of course, they are DOUBLY affected by the placebo effect. And the researchers think they are accurately measuring the placebo effect, and thus, accurately measuring the 'product effect'. But they often ignore regression to the mean, which pretends to be, or is mistaken for placebo effect. Regression to the mean happens on both sides of a double blind study.  It happens to the patient's illness, and also to the patient's healthiness as well.

How does regression to the mean work?

Golf scores provide an interesting example.  If you review the field of competitors from a golf tournament, and rank them according to their score on the 1st hole, some will have good scores - and some will have bad scores.  But the scores on the 1st hole will, likely, have little predictive value for the tournament. If you add in the scores from the 2nd hole, some of the people with the highest score will 'regress to the mean'. People with the lowest score will also regress towards the mean. All scores move towards the average.  The sequence is statistically irrelevant, even though it has an effect (placebo effect?, nocebo effect?) on the participants performance. With any two holes counted, you might still have the final leader - in the bottom half.

The more rounds you add to the score - the more the scores bunch together, and the better your information. We tend to watch golf score from round 1, to round 2, to round 3, and we only pay attention to the leaders - so we miss the big picture. We miss regression to the mean entirely, because we perceive little effect on the leaders. In round 1 - someone is ahead (often as random as who did the best in round 10).  Then in round 2, someone else is ahead - because the leader in round 1 was the farthest from the mean, and his score 'regressed to the mean'. And so on.

Regression to the mean happens with any sample monitored over time. It's a statistical fact, not a 'placebo effect'.  It will happen if patients take medicines - prescription or alternative medicines, and it will happen if they do not take any medicines. It happens even if they decide to NOT take medicines that are prescribed.

Medicine, is complicated, even if you just study the physical facts and ignore the spirit. If you select a group of people suffering from a cold, for example, some will have mild colds, some moderate colds, and some - severe colds. Some will have had a cold for one day, some for 3 days, etc. The mean appears to be those with 'moderate colds'.  But  that's a poor understanding. Colds are not normal. The population on average does not have a cold.

The mean they are regressing towards is actually 'the mean' of the normal population.  Most people do not have colds.  In a very short time - the members of your test group will 'regress to the mean' and most of them will no longer have colds.  This is 'normal'.

It's even more complicated. Some are very healthy people, some are less healthy and some are very unhealthy - where healthiness is measured independent of their colds.  Some eat nutritious diets, some junk food diets.  Some exercise regularly - some are couch potatoes. Some are mis-diagnosed, they don't really have a cold, they have allergies, or even heart failure. Healthiness changes slowly, much more slowly than the symptoms of a cold.

Studies of cold medicines typically have very short duration, in the hope that this will minimize those complications.  But if we were to study cold healthicines - we would need to study people over larger variations of healthiness and over wider periods of time.

Healthiness also regresses towards the mean. People who are healthier than the mean tend to drift to being less healthy.  People who are less healthy than the mean notice, and try to move their healthiness towards the mean.  I fear that the mean healthiness is also regressing in today's society.

As a result, studies that struggle with 'placebo effect' and ignore 'regression to the mean' constantly find confusing, conflicting results.  Who to blame?  Not themselves of course, it's much easier to blame 'placebo effect'.

If we are to learn the truth about health, we need to stop ignoring or hiding from real effects.  Placebo and nocebo effects are real effects.  As is regression to the mean.

There is another important aspect of the placebo effect.  Very important.  We can use arthritis as an example, but it applies to any illness.

The variations factor.

If we are studying a group of people with arthritis (or any chronic illness), there is a huge variety in their conditions.  Some have mild arthritis   Some have moderate arthritis.  And some have severe arthritis. Some have had arthritis for years - some for decades or generations. Some eat healthy diets and some don't.  Some exercise regularly - but some don't.  Some might take up, or drop, an exercise plan during the study. Each of them is sometimes healing - and thus they have symptoms of healing.  Their healing status might change during the study, due to 'control' conditions, or uncontrolled conditions. But scientific studies tend to 'not measure' symptoms of healing'.

So called 'scientific studies' generally ignore these variations, or deliberately trying to minimize them. Of course when a drug is marketed, the marketing is 'expanded' beyond the variations studied. A treatment is tested on the selected group.  The treatment has an effect.  Placebo effect has an effect. The outliers in the group tend to regress to the mean (unless they die - a mean we will all regress to eventually, in which case their results might be excluded from the published study).

Scientific studies want nice clean results.  The placebo effect is a nuisance.  Nocebo effects are not even noticed, nor measured in most cases. Regression to the mean is easy to ignore - and extremely difficult to measure with regards to both healthiness and illness.

A severe weaknesses of science based medicine is the need to be 'right' or to find the 'true' answers. The simple truth is: truth is complex.  There are many truths, and many views of truth. Many valid views of truth - but medical science wants to find 'the one'.

The placebo effect, is a different effect in different people.  Just as some people exercise more than others, some exercise more than others - some are more spiritual than others.  And this spirituality can change over time. The medical profession might use the word 'suggestibility' to avoid terms related to 'spirituality'.

Some doctors are more spiritual, more 'placebo effect enhancing' and this too will regress to the mean, towards the average, as time passes and as more results are gathered.

The placebo effect, and the nocebo effect reside on the borders between body and mind, and between mind and spirit.  Regression to the mean lies on the border of our understanding. We have a mathematical theory, but it is difficult to apply to all of the factors that 'regress'.

The spirit is independent of the technologies of science. It is at a higher level than mere facts, figures, scientific studies, and clinical research studies. Medicine, and science try to ignore and disparage spiritual and placebo effects. They have no mechanisms to understand them.  I believe that eventually our sciences will encompass the spirit, but today, there is only fear that the spirit will overwhelm (or perhaps trick) science.

Science is afraid of spirits.

To quote medical historian Anne Harrington in The Placebo Effect: An Interdisciplinary Exploration, "Placebos are the ghosts that haunt our house of biomedical objectivity, the creatures that rise up from the dark and expose the paradoxes and fissures in our own self created definitions of the real and active factors of treatment."

When we hide behind, or from spirituality, and the placebo effects, our knowledge of health is decreased. As a result of decreased knowledge, our health freedom is decreased.

Everyone has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of healthiness. Even a right to the most effective placebos our spirits our sciences can create and our spirits can handle.


this post has been re-published by
Waking Times

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: