EPISODE 229: The Placebo Effect: How Suggestible Are You?

Have you heard of sham surgeries? In 2002, 180 people with osteoarthritis of the knee joined a double-blind study. Some patients underwent real arthroscopic surgery and a placebo group simply had a skin incision and then were stitched back up. Here is where it gets weird. The placebo group self-reported identical results to those who had undergone actual surgery.

This is just one example of thousands of documented instances of “mind over body” in healing modalities ranging from allopathic medicine and crystal therapy to group prayer and homeopathy. How can this be? On this week’s Yoga Talk Show, we’ll try to get to the bottom of this very real phenomenon.

Listen in to learn:

  • Why the scientific method has always been hindered by the placebo effect as it taints nearly every data set—it’s omnipresent
  • How crystals, prayer healing, Reiki, and fringe healing modalities can sometimes deliver amazing results
  • Why certain conditions respond better to placebos (ex: pain, skin conditions, Parkinson’s, depression, anxiety)
  • How sham surgeries can be just as effective as real surgeries
  • Why hypnosis and placebo are not necessarily connected

Links & Resources:


Erik Vance is a native Bay Area writer living in Mexico. In his earlier life, he was a biologist, a rock climbing guide, an environmental consultant, and an environmental educator.

His work focuses on the human element of science – the people who do it, those who benefit from it, and those who do not. He has written for The New York Times, Nature, Scientific American, Harper’s, National Geographic, and a number of other local and national outlets.

His first book, Suggestible You, about how the mind and body continually twist and shape our realities was inspired by his feature in Discover and is on Amazon. You can learn more about his work at www.ErikVance.com

Nutritional Tip of the Week:

  • Cooking with Olive Oil

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