brynndragon: (scientist)
I've spent a bunch of time thinking about placebos. At one point I gathered a lot of it into a single long and rambling LJ post almost a year ago (I've posted about it in my problog since then, but I don't want to directly link that blog to this LJ; it was about placebo only in the context of clinical acupuncture research, and thus less applicable here). So when a friend pointed me at this article on IBS and the high efficacy of known placebos I felt the need to think aloud yet again.

One thing is, that long and rambling LJ post was prompted by a class taught by the second guy quoted in the article, Ted Kaptchuk. I'm utterly unsurprised to find his name there - he's one of the leading authorities on placebo, as well as one of the first American acupuncturists. I also kinda knew that he'd been working with IBS recently, but had no idea what he was working on. I strongly suspect the study was his idea - it's his kind of clever (and the first guy was way too dubious of the notion to have thought to try it in the first place).

That dubiousness makes me giggle. The sheer misunderstanding of placebo it indicates! So many people think placebo is all about a mental state, specifically a state of ignorance. People who are treatable via placebo must be stupid and/or naive, believing in voodoo medicine, dancing to the piper's tune like a fool. What a terrible thought, that we could be preying on these weak-minded individuals with false medicine! This is how a doctor who watched a wounded soldier find real relief from suffering via a bag of saline labeled "morphine" decided that the proper use of this knowledge was to make sure no one was given a bag a saline labeled "morphine" ever again. How sad it is that we fear the stereotypes so strongly we would rather suffer, and watch others suffer, than suggest we, or they, might be susceptible to placebo. But now, now that we can see the placebo effect doesn't require conscious belief in the efficacy of the placebo, maybe we can start to leave such stereotyping behind. Maybe we can start to think about the benefits of placebo, rather than just treating it as damage within the human being to route around. Also, the panic I expressed in that previous post is greatly relieved - knowledge is no more the route to suffering than ignorance is the route to simple cures.

I have a lot of other thoughts, about what healing really is and what our roles as healthcare practitioners are in that process, but they're not fleshed out enough to throw into the wild.
brynndragon: (scientist)
I've spent a bunch of time thinking about placebos. At one point I gathered a lot of it into a single long and rambling LJ post almost a year ago (I've posted about it in my problog since then, but I don't want to directly link that blog to this LJ; it was about placebo only in the context of clinical acupuncture research, and thus less applicable here). So when a friend pointed me at this article on IBS and the high efficacy of known placebos I felt the need to think aloud yet again.

One thing is, that long and rambling LJ post was prompted by a class taught by the second guy quoted in the article, Ted Kaptchuk. I'm utterly unsurprised to find his name there - he's one of the leading authorities on placebo, as well as one of the first American acupuncturists. I also kinda knew that he'd been working with IBS recently, but had no idea what he was working on. I strongly suspect the study was his idea - it's his kind of clever (and the first guy was way too dubious of the notion to have thought to try it in the first place).

That dubiousness makes me giggle. The sheer misunderstanding of placebo it indicates! So many people think placebo is all about a mental state, specifically a state of ignorance. People who are treatable via placebo must be stupid and/or naive, believing in voodoo medicine, dancing to the piper's tune like a fool. What a terrible thought, that we could be preying on these weak-minded individuals with false medicine! This is how a doctor who watched a wounded soldier find real relief from suffering via a bag of saline labeled "morphine" decided that the proper use of this knowledge was to make sure no one was given a bag a saline labeled "morphine" ever again. How sad it is that we fear the stereotypes so strongly we would rather suffer, and watch others suffer, than suggest we, or they, might be susceptible to placebo. But now, now that we can see the placebo effect doesn't require conscious belief in the efficacy of the placebo, maybe we can start to leave such stereotyping behind. Maybe we can start to think about the benefits of placebo, rather than just treating it as damage within the human being to route around. Also, the panic I expressed in that previous post is greatly relieved - knowledge is no more the route to suffering than ignorance is the route to simple cures.

I have a lot of other thoughts, about what healing really is and what our roles as healthcare practitioners are in that process, but they're not fleshed out enough to throw into the wild.
brynndragon: (death is sad)
Now that the Swine Flu (I prefer Pig Flu, but apparently "swine" is the official term) has appeared in Massachusetts, it's time for your friendly neighborhood healthcare-practitioner-in-training to share some entertainingly useful information.

First up we've got a href="http://cadhla.livejournal.com/1667439.html">The Pandemic Flu Song, Schoolhouse Rock for a more modern era. This is something you could even share with your kids, or someone else's kids, full of useful advice that anyone can follow (especially not to panic).

Next there's Practical Tips for Combating Swine Flu in Your Home and while the tips themselves aren't amusing the essay accompanying the link is: "You're not ACTUALLY gonna die unless your lips are turning blue, you have bad chest pains, you can't swallow water, you can't stand up, you're having seizures and you don't know where you are or what your name is. As this document suggests, you're gonna want to watch out for those symptoms."

In general, if you're the sickly sort you might want to replenish your supply of surgical masks, but if not just follow all of those hygiene rules you generally ignore (like washing your hands before you eat and after you use the toilet or blow your nose - use hot water and sing "happy birthday" while you lather up - don't forget between your fingers and finger tips - to make sure you get all the nasties) and you'll be fine.
brynndragon: (death is sad)
Now that the Swine Flu (I prefer Pig Flu, but apparently "swine" is the official term) has appeared in Massachusetts, it's time for your friendly neighborhood healthcare-practitioner-in-training to share some entertainingly useful information.

First up we've got a href="http://cadhla.livejournal.com/1667439.html">The Pandemic Flu Song, Schoolhouse Rock for a more modern era. This is something you could even share with your kids, or someone else's kids, full of useful advice that anyone can follow (especially not to panic).

Next there's Practical Tips for Combating Swine Flu in Your Home and while the tips themselves aren't amusing the essay accompanying the link is: "You're not ACTUALLY gonna die unless your lips are turning blue, you have bad chest pains, you can't swallow water, you can't stand up, you're having seizures and you don't know where you are or what your name is. As this document suggests, you're gonna want to watch out for those symptoms."

In general, if you're the sickly sort you might want to replenish your supply of surgical masks, but if not just follow all of those hygiene rules you generally ignore (like washing your hands before you eat and after you use the toilet or blow your nose - use hot water and sing "happy birthday" while you lather up - don't forget between your fingers and finger tips - to make sure you get all the nasties) and you'll be fine.
brynndragon: (acupuncture)
The NESA clinic is now taking patients for the Summer of 2009 (starting May 11). My shifts (all Chinese-style this semester) include Wednesday from 2:00 to 7:00 PM and Thursday from 3:30 to 8:00 PM - if you want me to be the person who helps you feel better you can ask for me by name (if you don't know my full name, you should e-mail me at my LJ address). You can send me your friends, family, co-workers, etc. as well ;). If you can't make those times you'll end up with one of my lovely classmates who will do well by you, so don't sweat it.

Furthermore, I have coupons for a free visit. If you've ever wanted to try acupuncture for problems from back pain (acute or chronic) to anxiety to Gyn issues, let me know and I can give you one of them (note that it's good for any visit, not just one with me). If you're not sure whether or not acupuncture can help with a specific health problem, feel free to ask me in the comments or via email - acupuncture works better for some things than for others. (at some point I'm going to collate the various things my profs have told me re: what acupuncture is good for and not so good for into a single list and post it, but not today)
brynndragon: (acupuncture)
The NESA clinic is now taking patients for the Summer of 2009 (starting May 11). My shifts (all Chinese-style this semester) include Wednesday from 2:00 to 7:00 PM and Thursday from 3:30 to 8:00 PM - if you want me to be the person who helps you feel better you can ask for me by name (if you don't know my full name, you should e-mail me at my LJ address). You can send me your friends, family, co-workers, etc. as well ;). If you can't make those times you'll end up with one of my lovely classmates who will do well by you, so don't sweat it.

Furthermore, I have coupons for a free visit. If you've ever wanted to try acupuncture for problems from back pain (acute or chronic) to anxiety to Gyn issues, let me know and I can give you one of them (note that it's good for any visit, not just one with me). If you're not sure whether or not acupuncture can help with a specific health problem, feel free to ask me in the comments or via email - acupuncture works better for some things than for others. (at some point I'm going to collate the various things my profs have told me re: what acupuncture is good for and not so good for into a single list and post it, but not today)
brynndragon: (yin yang with dragon)
One of the things I figured out recently is my healing work will be/is centered around transforming pain and anguish into joy and happiness. I'm currently working on how that transformation occurs, which means contemplating happiness as well as pain. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] metahacker I've got The Happiness Project to help with that. While reading the archives I thought of this tale:

Once upon a time a man from the Chinese equivalent of Poland wanted his rice to grow faster. He told his son that he needed to go work in the field and returned several hours later rather sweaty and very pleased with himself, telling his son that he had spent his time helping the rice grow. His son ran out to the field and saw the rice scattered all about. His father had pulled up the rice until it came right out of the ground.

What brought this up was a John Stuart Mill quote: "Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so." While some people take this to mean that happiness is an outgrowth of ignorance, I think it is a warning against trying to help the rice grow (which is itself a result of ignorance). The message to me is to cultivate the proper conditions in which happiness can be, rather than seek methods for fixing an unhappiness problem. This principle applies to the medicine I am learning as well, where the focus is on cultivating an environment for health to be rather than fixing an illness. The goal is the same but how one goes about it is very, very different.
brynndragon: (yin yang with dragon)
One of the things I figured out recently is my healing work will be/is centered around transforming pain and anguish into joy and happiness. I'm currently working on how that transformation occurs, which means contemplating happiness as well as pain. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] metahacker I've got The Happiness Project to help with that. While reading the archives I thought of this tale:

Once upon a time a man from the Chinese equivalent of Poland wanted his rice to grow faster. He told his son that he needed to go work in the field and returned several hours later rather sweaty and very pleased with himself, telling his son that he had spent his time helping the rice grow. His son ran out to the field and saw the rice scattered all about. His father had pulled up the rice until it came right out of the ground.

What brought this up was a John Stuart Mill quote: "Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so." While some people take this to mean that happiness is an outgrowth of ignorance, I think it is a warning against trying to help the rice grow (which is itself a result of ignorance). The message to me is to cultivate the proper conditions in which happiness can be, rather than seek methods for fixing an unhappiness problem. This principle applies to the medicine I am learning as well, where the focus is on cultivating an environment for health to be rather than fixing an illness. The goal is the same but how one goes about it is very, very different.

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