Hospitals using alternative healing methods

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More hospitals offer alternative therapies for mind, body, spirit
Updated 9/15/2008 11:25 AM | Comments    42 | Recommend    21    E-mail | Print | By Lisa Gill, Special for USA TODAY
When nurses tried to insert an IV into patient Linda Aron’s hand, she was so anxious over the impending operation to fix her acid reflux that they simply had to stop.
Instead of continuing to poke and prod Aron, nurses at Grinnell (Iowa) Regional Medical Center called in a massage therapist to rub her shoulders and arms to help her relax. Within 10 minutes, Aron had an IV in place.
To meet patient demand and enhance the hospital experience, more hospitals like Grinnell offer patients complementary and alternative treatments. The American Hospital Association says today that 37% of hospitals around the USA make complementary and alternative treatments available — including acupuncture, touch therapy, and music and art therapy.
A similar survey by the hospital group in 2005 found that one in four hospitals offered such services.
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By Doug Wells for USA TODAY
Patients such as Aron, 56, of Grinnell (population: 9,100), say they are surprised at how some of these therapies make a difference in their hospital experience.
“It was wonderful to have someone take your mind off of what was going on,” Aron says. “Having the human touch and knowing that someone is paying very personal attention to you helps. It keeps everything from being so medical.”
And, to help speed her recovery and relieve pain from the surgery, Aron currently receives weekly acupuncture from the hospital in Grinnell as an outpatient. She pays the $55 fee out of her own pocket.
“This is a movement toward ‘patient-centered’ care,” says Sita Ananth, director of knowledge services for the Samueli Institute, an Alexandria, Va.-based non-profit that studies alternative therapies. “Many hospital mission statements are to serve the mind, body and spiritual needs of their patients.”
Success measured in patient satisfaction
Ananth also points to the lucrative market potential of these types of therapies for hospitals, although most hospitals have yet to see a profit. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, up to $19 billion a year is spent on alternative treatments. And the AHA’s survey showed that much of that is paid out of pocket for patients — 71% of them pay cash.
While these types of therapies have a useful place in the hospital, more data are needed to understand how they work, says Andrew Schafer, chief physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “Complementary and alternative therapies must be scrutinized in terms of their risk-to-benefit ratio and be subjected to placebo-controlled studies.
“If it turns out that the placebo effect is at work, that is not necessarily a bad thing,” he adds, “but today’s complementary and alternative therapies could be tomorrow’s medical breakthroughs.”
The majority of hospitals say that patient satisfaction is the No. 1 way they determine if an alternative treatment is beneficial, closely followed by clinical data on a treatment. Cleveland Clinic just completed a complementary and alternative therapy pilot program for patients undergoing heart surgery. Half of the patients — more than 1,700 — opted for spiritual care, counseling, art, music, touch therapy or guided imagery, and 93% of patients surveyed said the services were helpful.
Guidance from doctor groups for patients with chronic pain has helped bolster doctors’ acceptance of complementary treatments, says Richard Nahin, senior adviser for scientific coordination and outreach at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. He cites new guidelines for treating lower back pain issued jointly last year by the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society, which suggest many alternative therapies as potential treatments. “As doctors become more aware, hospitals will also follow,” Nahin says.
Not all doctors are on board
Yet the picture is not so rosy at certain centers. According to the AHA, 44% of hospitals that offer such therapies say that their programs have a mediocre or poor relationship with staff physicians.
Betty Carlson, 79, of Fenton, Mich., doesn’t need to be sold on the benefits. She received regular sessions with a Reiki therapist, a form of spiritual healing, and a spiritual adviser during her month-long stay at Cleveland Clinic after open heart surgery. As a retired nursing home administrator, Carlson says she was skeptical when first introduced to Reiki by a friend, but she quickly discovered how it helped relieve pain.
“It was very relaxing, and a gift toward my healing.”
READERS: If you found yourself in one of these hospitals, would you make use of their alternative therapies? Share your view or experiences below:




Placebo effect: Also called the placebo response. A remarkable phenomenon in which a placebo — a fake treatment, an inactive substance like sugar, distilled water, or saline solution — can sometimes improve a patient’s condition simply because the person has the expectation that it will be helpful. Expectation to plays a potent role in the placebo effect. The more a person believes they are going to benefit from a treatment, the more likely it is that they will experience a benefit.

To separate out this power of positive thinking and some other variables from a drug’s true medical benefits, companies seeking governmental approval of a new treatment often use placebo-controlled drug studies. If patients on the new drug fare significantly better than those taking placebo, the study helps support the conclusion that the medicine is effective.

The power of positive thinking is not a new subject. The Talmud, the ancient compendium of rabbinical thought, states that: “Where there is hope, there is life.” And hope is positive expectation, by another name. The scientific study of the placebo effect is usually dated to the pioneering paper published in 1955 on “The Powerful Placebo” by the anesthesiologist Henry K. Beecher (1904-1976). Beecher concluded that, across the 26 studies he analyzed, an average of 32% of patients responded to placebo.

It has been shown that placebos have measurable physiological effects. They tend to speed up pulse rate, increase blood pressure, and improve reaction speeds, for example, when participants are told they have taken a stimulant. Placebos have the opposite physiological effects when participants are told they have taken a sleep-producing drug.

The placebo effect is part of the human potential to react positively to a healer. A patient’s distress may be relieved by something for which there is no medical basis. A familiar example is Band-Aid put on a child. It can make the child feel better by its soothing effect, though there is no medical reason it should make the child feel better.

People who receive a placebo may also experience negative effects. They are like side effects with a medication and may include, for example, nausea, diarrhea and constipation. A negative placebo effect has been called the nocebo effect.

What Is the Placebo Effect?

By , Guide
Updated February 01, 2010 Health’s Disease and Condition content is reviewed by the Medical Review Board

Definition: A placebo, as used in research, is an inactive substance or procedure used as a control in an experiment. The placebo effect is the measurable, observable, or felt improvement in health not attributable to an actual treatment.When a treatment is based on a known inactive substance like a sugar pill, distilled water, or saline solution rather than having real medical value, a patient may still improve merely because their expectation to do so is so strong. To eliminate the effect of positive thinking on clinical trials, researchers often run double-blind, placebo-controlled studies.

Fast Facts About the Placebo Effect:

  • The word placebo literally means “I will please” in Latin.
  • The first known double-blind placebo-controlled trial was done in 1907.
  • The FDA doesn’t require that a drug study include a placebo control group, however, the placebo-controlled trial has long been the standard.
  • The NIH is funding several studies related to the placebo effect.

Sources: Placebo Effect, Robert Todd Carroll, The Skeptic’s Dictionary,, The Mysterious Placebo Effect, by Carol Hart, American Chemical Society, Modern Drug Discovery, July/August 1999: The Healing Power of Placebos, by Tamar Nordenberg, FDA Consumer magazine January-February 2000

Also Known As: placebo, placebo response, power of suggestion
Common Misspellings: plasebo, placeboo, placebo affect


Mynd ArtMynd Art ‏ @Mynd_Art

Your body is like a mirror of your belief system, #placebo effectbeing a prime example. What you think, your body makes happen.#secret


Kakilangit Kencana™Kakilangit Kencana™ ‏ @KakilangitKCNA

“If a placebo has an effect, is it any less real than the real thing?” ~Nathaniel LeTonnerre


Interview with Crystal Shop owener

When I met with Linda from Stick, Stone and Bone I began by learning more about her beliefs in alternative methods of healing.

I then asked for more information regarding the placebo effect.

    • can I ask if you believe in the placebo effect in general?…he had me read this article about how in some cases the placebo has the same if not better results for mild depression then medication.. pretty interesting how if u believe it could have physical correlation

    • hmmm

    • yes I do, to some extent

    • certainly not in all cases

    • I think some people are more susceptible to methods of suggestion than other

      I think that the power of suggestion has its place but it is not always effective for example in the case of anxiety medication one can think they are taking something that helps them, if their problem is purely in their head – but there are some people that they have anxiety so bad that it’s actually a chemical imbalance and it would take a chemical to reverse it

      she then began to tell me about cymatics and the healing aspects of vibrations and frequencies which correlate to crystals who each have their own vibrational frequency. it can get quite complex but basically there are certain tones that correspond to your chakras, and to your energy field and this one man claims to have discovered the healing properties of tones tuned at 432hz

      you can heal with tone and vibrations because “I mean we are all vibrations,everything is a vibration and the entire universe operates at different measures of 432, it’s very interesting”

      the thing is that the it is not just the vibrations themselves that heal you a shaman calls upon specific spirits with tones/secret words and phrases, and then the spirits come and heal you so there are different levels

      this cymatic way of thinking about crystals make them be more than just a placebo.

Chakra Tones

chakra tones


Cymatic Vibrations

cymatic experiment

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