Sugar Pill

Over the past few years modern medicine has discovered a phenomenon called “placebo drift”. When scientists want to prove whether or not a drug is effective they compare it to a placebo which is a pill that doesn’t have any effect on the body – or does it? It turns out that these sugar pills seem to be increasing in strength, that is, patients in clinical trials are more responsive to fake pills than they were in the past. One possible explanation is conditioning reinforced by cultural norms, popular media and intense pharmaceutical advertising. We believe that just seeing a doctor and taking a pill is good for us, and this belief is so strong that it can improve depression or high blood pressure. Our faith in a pill, even a sugar pill, has the power to heal us.

In the Gospel according to Mark we find the blind man Bartimaeus who receives his sight.  Jesus says to him, “Go, your faith has healed you”. Was the Nazarene on to something here? Certainly. Physicians have always recognized the healing power of suggestion and snake oil. When we believe wholeheartedly we will get better, we get better.

I suffer from allergies and asthma, and over the last few weeks the weather here in Buenos Aires has been getting cold and damp as we head deeper into autumn. This climate wreaks havoc on my respiratory system. Normally when I cough and wheeze I reach for my inhaler. Now I’ve been reaching for something else… prayer.

I don´t pretend that prayer should replace conventional medicine, but is faith in the ethical dilemma presented by Big Pharma and their clinical trials any safer? Jesus used spittle and dirt as his elements of healing. The big drug companies employ potentially lethal substances. Their primary objective is to make money and, therefore, the validity of their studies requires serious questioning.

Still, my training as a physician prejudices my reasoning here. I want the pill or puffer to make me better. It’s quick and easy, but it comes with a cost both monetary and biochemically.

Last night I awoke short of breath with an audible wheeze – classic acute asthma episode. So I prayed for the Lord to heal me. I prayed for Him to mobilize my body’s natural resources to stop the wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. And it worked. I didn’t have to expose myself to any drug, and I saved myself some money to boot. God’s gifts are free.

Some might say that it was meditative relaxation that resolved my symptoms, but my faith in God is what allows me to even begin to believe that a prayer could halt an asthma attack. Meditation alone could help, but faith supercharges all things and might even give sight to the blind.

Side effects? None… except hopefully more trust in God.

I plan on exploring this more and maybe later today I will post the prayer that I pray when I have an asthma attack.

Buy a book and help a poor community in Buenos Aires.

19 comments on “Sugar Pill

  1. Bird says:

    We still only know a fraction of what our brains can do or how they work, so I do tend to believe that we can somewhat “fix” ourselves, which takes absolutely nothing away from God and His Healing. I mean, He created those brains, right?

  2. My meditation upon Him shall be sweet! I will be glad in the Lord! Happy to hear you found relief and peace. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Woohoo!! Amen, Vince. That’s awesome. Prayers to you for continued good health.

  4. granbee says:

    Wonderful sharing here about the power of prayer in healing! I truly believe that some of the scientific studies about what signal are sent from the brain to disturbed areas of the body when the person is praying are actually giving physical data to support what you say here. Not that we Christians need to wait for more studies and more data! I am so very much with you on this principle of healing through prayer. If even 1/10th of professing Christians all around the world would practive the healing prayer, the pharmaceutical companies would stop ruling so many things in our societies.

  5. teawithme3 says:

    I agree, seek God and have faith in him to heal. Trusting he will heal is key. Thanks for this post.

  6. A beautiful report of God’s healing power through and in prayer, Vince. Thanks for sharing.

  7. lbtk says:

    I take a medication regimen for my chronic pain. Sometimes, nothing pharmaceutical will even touch it and I spend hours writhing. I can tell you that during the worst of times when my children and my husband have put their hands on me in prayer and when others from my church engage my name to our holy God in petition for relief, it works. Science cannot prove how it works, but I know the hand of the Lord rests on me and I am comforted. Sometimes, the pain lessens. Sometimes, I’m simply given mental fortitude to endure the pain until it lessens. You are a wise man, Vince. Sandy

  8. selah says:

    this is a very interesting post. sometimes at night I wake up alert and my heartrate begins to increase.. I always say ‘Lord, I am in your hands” and trust Him for the outcome. We have seen a lot of commercials on the telly lately for this pill or that, but the side effects are worse than the illness or whatever the pill is prescribed for.

    For myself, unless there is infection, I do not take medications.

  9. Cristal says:

    I must have missed this one (glad I went back to catch up). I often remind my children that a merry heart is good like medicine; and they begin giggling, laughing, smiling and dancing. Before long, they truly feel better. I realize this would be silly to some. But, for us, it is our body and emotions lining up with God’s will. I totally realize this isn’t a cure all (genie in a bottle). But, I also realize God’s Word is given to us for a reason. And He does say to be cheerful and thankful. 🙂

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