A fascinating Horizon programme on placebos is now available on Youtube to watch:
It says: "Ultimately it is about the link between our minds and our bodies. Whether it is fear or hope, our thoughts and expectations can trigger chemical reactions that change our bodies."
One of the most fascinating bits for me was that even when people were told that they were getting a placebo pill, 62% of people still got adequate relief from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, while only 30% got adequate relief from no pill at all. And the symptoms came back when they finished the pills, even thought they knew they were placebo pills!
It also looks at the use of hypnosis to create responses in the body: pain relief in a wisdom tooth extraction. Horizon suggests that this shows it is possible to access the body's natural healing mechanisms through the words a practitioner chooses and how those words are used, as well as through placebo pills or operations.