The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

    Reduce stress. Reduce pain?

     Might reducing negative emotions explain placebo-associated pain reduction?

    And, should the stress response be included in every placebo-controlled study?

    First, the details.

    • 63 students were tested on 2 separate days.
      • One day they took capsules containing lactose, but were told the capsules contained a potent painkiller.
      • The next time, they were told the same thing, but no capsules were taken.
    • The volunteers didn’t know the treatment given — single-blinded.
    • Pain was induced by placing a thermal probe (+46°C, 115°F) on the forearm for 240 seconds.
    • Electrocardiogram (ECG) was used to measure heart rate variability.
    • Subjective measurements included pain intensity, pain unpleasantness, stress, arousal, and mood.

    And, the results.

    • There was a placebo effect on pain intensity that was accompanied by a reduction in subjective stress and heart activity.
      • These were the only factors independently associated with pain intensity.
    • Reduced subjective stress was the only predictor for the placebo analgesic response.

    The bottom line?
    The authors concluded, “Reduced negative emotional activation could be a mechanism in placebo analgesia.”

    My take is that every placebo-controlled study should include ECG monitoring in order to account for any response that might be associated with stress-reduction.

    10/3/08 20:15 JR

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