August 22, 2011
Review of the recent literature:
Another reason to promote breastfeeding everywhere you go. In a study from July 2011 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, Heikkila et al found that term infants that were breastfed for at least 4 months were significantly less likely to have parent reported behavioral problems at age 5 years old.
Placebo and Healing POWERS:
In a nice study from the July 14, 2011 New England Journal of Medicine, Wechsler et al. take us on a tour of the value of the doctor-patient relationship. They looked at asthma patients in an acute attack phase and gave them either albuterol (a medicine to open the airways), a fake medicine(placebo), fake accupuncture or no treatment. The results are wonderful. The only patient to have true lung function change was the medicine treated patient. However, when asked "how do you feel", the three groups all felt that they were 45% better versus 21% for the no treatment group.
What does it all mean??? To me it says that we need the medicine, but we equally need the tender care of the experience of healing. I have long thought and taught patients that half of every issue is your mental state towards the problem. We as parents need to hold a child's hand. I as a doctor need to hold your child's hand and tell them that it will be alright.
The current state of drugs and no emotion in the care of a patient is counter to the Hypocratic oath. This study let's us know that we are and need to be scientists but also healers of the mind and spirit.
We as a population should embrace the placebo effect and all of the blessings of the powerful healing mind.
My take home point today: Think placebo
We need both modalities,