( It is Faith Healing )
Pla-ce’-bo (plå-sē’-bő), n. [Latin, “I shall please.”] Med. A medicine, esp. an inactive one, given merely to satisfy a patient.
Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, copyright, 1961
- A medication prescribed more for the mental relief of the patient than for its actual effect on his disorder.
Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, copyright, 1979
The mention of a placebo makes people smile. It is the smile of a shared secret. It connotes a beneficial little trick pulled on the not-really-sick. The placebo technique involves giving a pill to trick the complainer into thinking something truly medicinal has been prescribed. Believing it is true medicine many have been fooled into feeling better. At least that’s how we have in the past thought about the placebo. Recent research indicates there’s much more to it than fooling people.
Apparently when the placebo is taken by trusting patients, it actually causes the body to heal itself. When the sick, or injured person pops the placebo pill into his system, the body can produce chemicals called endorphins. One of these endorphis is a pain killer more powerful than morphine. Pain is then reduced or eliminated by the body’s own chemicals, the production of which was stimulated by the placebo taken in “faith”.
The body can heal itself. The self-healing capacity of our human system is being stressed more and more by medical leaders. The placebo research underscores it in a striking way. It shows that pulling the right trigger can initiate self-healing.
Throughout all of history healing has occurred in ways that defy modern science’s explanation. While some healing may come straight from God, other recoveries may come through the mysterious miracles of faith in a practitioner, an herb, a touch, a spiritual event that triggers the self-healing potential of the human body. That is a miracle of God too.
The trusting patient can be helped and even healed by a placebo, in the form of a medicine. Obviously faith in the healing power of God, the hand of a praying person, or a drop of olive oil, can also release, trigger, or speed up healing in the sick or wounded person.
Primitive people have always responded to “unscientific” healing ventures. Civilized Americans who have trusted science above all can hardly be helped by anything but the productions of laboratories. Now as we see the evidence of the body’s self-healing capacities even modern people may find that faith can heal. We may begin again to ask that the elders lay their hands on us, pray over us, and put the oil on us. Such love, care, attention, may trigger the healing process God has created within us.