America – the land of the quick fix and pill-popping to relieve any ache or pain – is being faced with a study supporting just how the mind can play tricks on those seeking relief through any means available.In a recent government study that is part of the effort to examine unregulated health remedies, such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate for the treatment of arthritis, it was found that an alarming percentage of participants taking the placebo, or dummy pills, reported an improvement in their pain.
With at least 5 million Americans taking these herbal supplements either separately or together, the fact that 60 percent of participants in this study said the placebo granted them relief begs the question: Just how effective are these over-the-counter remedies?
In light of the concerns swirling around about the health effects of painkillers, including Vioxx, which was pulled from the market in 2004, Americans are turning to other forms of treatment for arthritic pain. But with the study showing a large response to placebos, one must wonder, are the healing powers of herbal remedies all in the mind?
This is not to say that serious illnesses, or even arthritis, are made-up conditions or a figment of the imagination. But it is possible that in a country obsessed with taking medication, from Advil or Tylenol for a minor headache to herbal remedies for colds or simply to boost energy, people operate under the assumption that pain and other conditions are only cured through medical or herbal treatment.
In separate studies conducted, it was shown that echinacea, another nutritional supplement, commonly used for the treatment of colds, had little effect, as did the use of saw palmetto for an enlarged prostate.
So before you jump on the bandwagon, consider relaxation for stress headaches, rest and working out for added energy and other therapeutic methods of curing, or in the least helping with daily pains. Maybe even start by telling yourself that taking a pill may not be the answer to all your medical prayers.
Editor in Chief Courtney Reese for the editorial board.