The ninja were accomplished pharmacists, skilled in preparing different poisons and special powders and compounds. Ninjutsu training in yogen (pharmacy) also allowed them to prepare gunpowder and explosives, medicines and even concentrated foods as part of their ninja gear.
KI ( chi ) – inner energy
AI – uniting, joining
KIAI (Kihap or kyap) is the consequence of a special kind of breathing. It is usually said that it is a guttural sound, but the right KIAI comes from the abdomen as a result of strong expiration.
The real KIAI is the consequence of the unconscious part of the human being and it is not deliberately provoked.
KIAI is largely connected to the proper breathing because the right KIAI means the proper expiration, and only the proper expiration enables the proper inhalation. Moreover, the contraction of abdominal muscles while exhaling strengthens the trunk, i.e. the pelvis as the axis around which extremities rotate.
The technique of strong guttural expiration was also applied by Zen masters for explaining some ideas to their disciples and they called it KATSU.
Dan Tien is a Chinese name for the central point on the human body, which is located just below the navel and they equate that affects breathing. The Japanese name for the same point is HARA.
The Greek name for this point is pneuma (airflow, breath or life forces).
By observing human movement or stillness in a short time interval it is possible to see two basic possibilities for man's relationship to the surroundings in which he finds or doesn't find support.
The complete expiration lowers the unconscious brunt of the body in the surroundings where we find ourselves, while we strengthen the central part of the body around which peripheral attachments circulate under the impact of the force of muscle contraction. All
the life phenomena are connected to the process of oxidation or reduction, i.e. without oxygen there is no life.
The supply of our cells depends on blood and oxygen transport by blood.
While contracting, the muscle gets up to ten times more blood than when it rests, thus taking more oxygen and glikogen.
The input of oxygen is just one function of exhaling function which also covers the rejection of CO2. The cells become free of waste products so that they release them into blood, and this cleansing particularly takes place in the lungs.
To sum up, the complete expiration, i.e. KIAI is the condition without which there is no right and complete inhalation.
The volume of air that lungs can take is called "the vital capacity".
The aim of numerous breathing techniques is to enlarge that capacity. Nevertheless, before enlarging it to the maximum we should use the amount we already have as the result of strong expiration (KIAI).
The movements of the diaphragm and the chest speed the venous circulation in the whole organism. The muscles of the diaphragm are ones of the strongest in the human body. The expiration KIAI which consists of AU, AI, OI or EI makes the whole skeleton of the thorax vibrate, which proves that vibrations are transferred to the air mass closed in the lungs so that the gentle membrane of alveoli in contact with the air vibrates stimulating pulmonal cells gases replacement.
The more recent works of Western physiologists report that this vibration has a very noticable effect on endocrine glands, which science pay more attention to.
It has been proven that the emission of vowels during the exhaling (KIAI) causes a vibratory self-massage of organs. These vibrations reach to the deepest tissues and nerve cells enlarging the blood circulation in the organs.
Endocrine glands that send hormones directly into blood and lymph are getting stimulated (the pituary, the thymus, the adrenal gland etc.) as well as sympaticus and the brain nerve subject to this useful influence of vocal vibrations.
The vibromassage is particularly important for the organs situated in the thorax and the abdomen. Such vibrations create electromagnetic waves which spread throughout the organism thus enlarging the dynamics of living. Under the impact of this internal vibration the man gets rid of depression, the inferiority complex, and achieves mental balance.
Practising martial arts not only relieves and removes depression but also greatly prevents its return. Certainly one of the most effective exercises is the breathing exercise, whether it is a known technique of breathing yoga - pranayama, or similar breathing technique - uyai, or kung-fu breathing technique -chi kung, or karate technique -kokya (aikido, tae kwon do) or breathing technique with the emphasis on exhalation technique – KIAI (kihap). The use of breathing and breath control has a long history in the traditional martial arts.
Most martial arts pay attention to a special breathing technique. Such a technique is performed in kung- fu (chi kung, tai chi chuan, pa qua etc.) in karate (for katas-sanchin, tensho etc.), in tae kwon do (forms), but also in aikido, hapkido, kendo, judo and many others. In kendo, for example, a point is only given by the referees if the hit is accompanied by a strong, convincing KIAI. In karate a KIAI can show that you had the correct intention to score, which is one of the criteria for achieving ippon. For these reasons, it is important to develop a good kiai.
The right breathing implies deep breathing caused by diaphragm and chest movement. It is also important to expire completely, which enables the next complete breath. The right breathing technique is practised at the very beginning of martial art practice and many trainers emphasize its importance.
The appropriate breathing technique reduces muscle tensions which causes the right muscular distribution. Frequent martial arts practice reduces weight. Obese people have the problem that fat tissues reduce breathing functions and can cause respiratory inflammation.
The breathing technique helps people with depression to relax and calms them down. One of the best ways to breathe is the technique in which a slow inhalation is carried out through the nose while you count up to three, followed by a shorter pause, and a slow release on the mouth with a count of six. The breathing can be performed so that we breathe first and then later, through the other nostril. Another method of breathing is the more powerful inhalation of the nose, followed by the more powerful exhalation of the mouth. The inhalation is followed by a strong exhalation after which athletes practice various punches that are accompanied by a loud kiai (kihap).
By practicing martial arts trainees strengthen chest muscles thereby improving lung function. This applies not only to the arts; kung-fu, karate, tae kwon do, kendo and aikido, which in practice require a certain special breathing technique. In other martial arts and skills such as judo, BJJ, sambo, boxing, kick boxing, wrestling, and mixed martial arts and the like, trainees not only develop upper body, especially the arms and shoulders, but also strengthen the muscles of the chest, which positively affects the breathing function.
As the air is coming from the lungs (KIAI) and making the vocal cords vibrate, it completely occupies the consciousness, which results in direct economy of nerve impulses or available energy for other things, and it is the best way to get rid of irritability and get back stability and peace.
After all, doesn't music provoke various emotions by means of vibrations? Just enough to understand KIAI- the strong shout.
KIAI has got a unique and noted role in martial arts. KIAI is used in the fight while performing strikes, it is used in KATA, as well as in breaking techniques TAMESHIWARI (KYOK PA). Some movements in kata require from the practitioner an exceptional balance, the others endurance and breathing control. Breathing is here a very important link between physical and mental moves. KIAI is rarely but sometimes used in some styles that use certain internal energy.
Also, the breathing technique while performing the katas (forms) varies across styles. In Karate the breathing is deeper, slower and oriented towards the abdomen (Ibuki), while in many Kung Fu styles the breathing is much faster and more shallow. Certain deviations in the breathing technique exist the same way as in Karate styles and Kung Fu styles. Also, minor but also visible variations in breathing techniques exist even among masters of a certain style which depends on the person. Every master will alter a certain style and breathing technique to his own needs.
KIAI is also applied in self defence- when we want to intimidate the opponent or encourage ourselves and, therefore, prepare for the fight (spirit yell). Thus the strike and the defence will be more efficient.
KIAI can be rather loud (scream) or on the contrary quite silent (breathing out), it can be longer or shorter depending on a certain person and situation.
In some martial arts the application of KIAI breathing technique is highlighted in the names of these disciplines, e.g. in China the style TAI CHI (CHI, Japan- KI), in Japan – AIKIDO (AI-KI-DO), IAI DO (KENDO), in Korea – HAP KIDO (HAP-KI-DO) or KUK KI TAE KWON DO etc.
Therefore, KIAI breathing technique is used in karate, judo, kung-fu, kendo, ju-jutsu (KIAI jutsu), tae kwon do (kihap or kyap), also in wrestling (when throwing the opponent), boxing and kick-boxing (when performing strikes), fencing as well as in lots of other martial arts.
One of the funniest KIAI is in old Maori dance form Haka, but it is certainly KIAI. It is interesting that the strong scream (KIAI) can be heard from various sportspersons not only in martial arts but in other sports, too.
Some examples are: athletes (shot putters, javelin throwers etc.), weightlifters, as well as skiers (when leaving the start). The loud scream (KIAI) can also be noticed in tennis when players run a stronger shot, but it is not the only case.
All of the above goes for the thesis that the real KIAI is not the consequence of willing to act. On the other hand, it is true that it can be trained and perfected.
As soon as you have started thinking about correct breathing as well as its importance for your body, you have already profited.
Enough to understand KIAI – the powerful shout !
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Straegies and Philosophies from 6 martial arts masters!
Leo Fong is one of the wisest people I know. Now in his ninth decade in the martial arts, he's also one of the most experienced, accomplished and versatile. When he talks, I listen. A few of the pearls he's dispensed over the years have been rattling around in my pocket for some time now.
As a firm believer in the power of principles, Fong encourages his students to seek the deeper truths of the martial arts. "There is an important difference between understanding what makes a clock tick and knowing how to tell the time," he once said.
But in this quest for truth, Fong doesn't advocate merely replicating the masters' journeys but rather seeking what they sought — striking out for the same destination, paralleling their paths, not merely trying to duplicate them.
Fong maintains that five masters in particular helped shape the martial landscape of the 20th century: Gichin Funakoshi, Jigoro Kano, Morihei Ueshiba, Bruce Lee and George Dillman. With this in mind, I hatched a plan to examine the principles these masters laid down — the trails of breadcrumbs they left — to see if there might be some common ground.
Gichin Funakoshi - Shotokan Karate
- Karate-do begins and ends with respect.
- There is no first strike in karate.
- Karate is an aid to justice.
- First know yourself, then know others.
- Spirit comes first, technique second.
- Always be ready to set your mind free.
- Misfortune comes out of laziness; accidents arise from negligence.
- Do not think that karate training is only in the dojo.
- It will take your entire life to learn karate; there is no limit.
- Put karate into your everyday life, and you will find its subtle secrets.
- Karate is like boiling water: Without heat, it returns to its tepid state.
- Do not think that you have to win — rather that you do not have to lose.
- Make adjustments according to your opponent.
- The outcome of the battle depends on how you handle weakness and strength.
- Think of hands and feet as swords.
- When you leave home, there are a million enemies waiting for you.
- Beginners must master low stances; natural body positions are for advanced students.
- Practice prescribed sets of techniques exactly; actual combat is another matter.
- Do not forget the employment of withdrawal of power, the extension or contraction of the body, the swift or leisurely application of technique.
- Be constantly mindful, diligent and resourceful in your pursuit of karate-do.
Jigoro Kano - Judo
- Carefully observe yourself, the situation, others and the environment.
- Seize the initiative in whatever you undertake.
- Consider fully, act decisively.
- Know when to stop.
- Keep to the middle.
Morihei Ueshiba - Aikido
- Extend your mind.
- Know your partner's mind.
- Respect your partner's ki.
- Put yourself in your partner's place.
- Perform with confidence.
Bruce Lee - Jeet Kune Do
"Bruce Lee" is a registered trademark of Bruce Lee Enterprises LLC. The Bruce Lee name, image and likeness are intellectual property of Bruce Lee Enterprises LLC. Photos © Bruce Lee Enterprises.
- Moving, be like water. Still, be like a mirror. Responding, be like an echo.
- Use no way as a way.
- Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself.
- Under the sky, under the heavens, there is but one family.
- Be a practical dreamer backed by action.
- To change with change is the changeless state.
- Absorb what is useful.
- Walk on!
George Dillman - Kyusho-Jitsu
- Be resolved to defend yourself.
- If you wish to attack West, first attack East.
- Make your self-defense response a conscious decision.
- The best self-defense is awareness and avoidance.
- Your voice is a weapon.
- Act first, act decisively.
- Never surrender advantage.
- Face your attacker.
- Take action at the first sign of a threat.
Leo Fong - Wei Kuen Do
George Dillman Photos by Rick Hustead Leo Fong Photos by Thomas Sanders
- The ultimate is within you.
- Spirit before mind, mind before body.
- Proper practice makes for reflexive response.
- Wait for the right moment to attack.
- Attack from the void.
- Defend with control.
- Listen to what your opponent is "saying" in your "conversation."
- Don't win or lose — win or learn.
- Don't try to drive the situation; surf it.
- Know when to walk away from the "boat" that carried you.
While each set of principles is sufficiently different to indicate independent evolution through separate journeys, there are certain commonalities that will help illuminate the critical turns along the way for those who seek the same ultimate destination.
Initiative: In many contests, the winner is the one who acts first. The fastest horse out of the gate, for example, often (but not always) crosses the finish line ahead of the others, and the quicker draw in a gunfight has a good shot at being the last gunslinger standing. In some confrontations, then, a first strike will be sufficient both to begin and to end the matter. And even if it does not, it likely will force most adversaries into a reactive posture, particularly if said adversary has little experience with this particular brand of physical interaction.
Why, then, does Funakoshi tell us, "In karate, there is no first strike"? Well, as a threshold matter, if no one ever launched a first strike, there would be no more fighting, and the world might be a better place in which to live. But on a more practical level, notice that he begins by limiting the universe in which his edict applies. He does not say "In this world …" or "In fighting. …" He says, "In karate. …"This proviso at least implies that the combatants are operating within the parameters of his art — that both have at least some idea of what they're doing. And as we know all too well, one of the most valuable lessons that the fighting arts bestow early on is the ability to take a hit and keep moving forward. When confronting an experienced adversary, then, launching the first strike may not be tactically advantageous.
In fact, when engaging a seasoned fighter, striking first may be disadvantageous. Consider this:
Every offensive move that an attacker makes commits one or more of his limbs to a particular trajectory or position, meaning that if the defender can anticipate and/or exploit that trajectory or position, he or she will actually have more control over the confrontation than someone who's simply waiting for any of an infinite number of possible attacks to be launched.
For example, being grabbed by the lapels commits both of the attacker's hands to static and relatively nonthreatening positions while leaving the defender with all four limbs free to counter. In this context, forcing the opponent to attack first is really a way of taking the strategic initiative.
Duality/Multiplicity: Continuing with both Funakoshi's wisdom and the interplay between ethical and pragmatic principles, it's self-evident that it takes at least two to have a fight. In the ring, this might be an amicable and mutually beneficial training exercise. On the street, it could be a matter of life and death. But either way, it's not a solo activity. And in most cases — even the highly confrontational ones — showing a measure of courtesy is usually a good idea. It's not just because we all should strive for the common good in a larger sense but also because many an angry hand has been turned aside by a gracious word or deed.
But even when two combatants come to blows in earnest, Fong maintains, "We are still communicating with each other." And this kind of communication becomes much easier to master by recognizing the role the other person plays in the engagement — what his strengths, weaknesses, goals and motivations may be.
Given the way in which aikido advocates using the opponent's energy against him, it's not surprising that Ueshiba's principles focus heavily on understanding the partner's mind, place and energy. It takes two to tango, and fighting is a pas de deux in which it's not enough to consider just your part.
This precept is especially important for instructors to understand, as in this role, their focus should shift — at least, when teaching — from self to others. Lee's pronouncement that, "There is but one family," may be the highest form of expression of this principle, and its truth is borne out by Dillman's point that it's much harder for one human to harm another when he has to look his victim in the face.
Mental/Spiritual Strength: On this topic, there's near universal agreement among the masters. Without certain cerebral components, physical technique is just brawling. And without some kind of moral compass, even the most effective fighter is missing the bigger picture. The mental and spiritual pieces don't just help complete the martial puzzle; in many ways, they are the puzzle. Consider:
With a little luck and a modicum of awareness, the average person may be fortunate enough never to have to use the martial arts for self-defense, but no one can navigate life without calling on the kind of mental agility and spiritual strength those same arts can teach.
Creativity/Adaptability: It's rare that combatants of vastly disproportionate abilities actually come to blows. Common sense generally tackles the weaker of the participants before he gets in over his head. As a result, if you do find yourself in a fight, it's generally unwise to assume that you have your opposition totally outgunned on all points. Rather than simply trusting that your hands are so fast or your legs so powerful that no one could possibly block them, the masters collectively advise planning your attack with at least a little creativity. ("If you wish to attack West, first attack East.")They also recommend keeping your options open in case the response isn't quite what you expect. ("Keep to the middle path/Know where to stop.") As Mike Tyson so eloquently explained: "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face." Fate rarely deals the cards we expect, and it's not making and executing a perfect plan that leads to victory — it's being able to adapt, improvise and overcome when the plan falls apart. Or as Fong advises, "Don't try to drive the situation; surf it."
Individuality: We come into this world alone, and we will leave it the same way. Spending the entire time between these immovable markers following others seems like a tremendous waste of the gift of individuality. So in martial practice, while we certainly work for the art, the art also should work for us. The teaching of the masters in this regard is that self-knowledge and self-expression are, in many ways, the most valuable gifts the arts can impart.
Persistence: It's in this realm that mental, physical and spiritual toughness converge. Funakoshi said that training should be consistent and lifelong. Dillman echoes a former British prime minister in commanding us never to surrender. And Lee directed us to "Walk on." Setbacks are an inevitable part of progress. What truly counts many times is the ability to take a hit, get back up and keep moving forward.
Environment: We don't employ our arts in a vacuum. In addition to the opponent, there's also the environment to consider. The dangers and opportunities presented by the world in which we operate are vital variables in the equation of self-defense, and the masters encourage us to be on guard at all times, watchful for both danger and opportunity at every turn.
Miscellany: The many other principles reproduced herein — the nuances of forms, the yin aspects of technique, the overall goal of the art, the nature and length of the journey, and so on — are equally important aspects of training. However, they feature explicitly in only one of the sets of instructions under examination.
Martial artists spend a great deal of time learning the mechanics of a given system, but it's important to take a step back every once in a while to ensure that you're also hearing its overall message.
If you have not already formulated a set of principles for your personal practice, now is as good a time and here is as good a place as any to begin.
Wherever your path may lead, may you travel hopefully.
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The placebo effect is a psychological phenomenon which happens when we believe in the beneficial effect of things and objects that, realistically, do not have it. The influence of the placebo and the placebo effect is usually connected with medicine, but it can be found everywhere around us in our daily lives, e.g. if placebo didn't exist, neither would marketing.
A couple of these interesting facts will reveal the omnipresence of this intriguing phenomenon.
In Latin, the term "placebo" literally means "it pleases" (lat. placere = to please, to be liked). Placebo is defined as a "suggestive drug" which is not efficient and harmless. Its efficiency exclusively depends on the strength of self-suggestion of each individual person. Its application has been used since 1785 when this term was first used in a medical dictionary as an – ordinary method or drug.
Since each treatment is accompanied by a placebo effect, the effects that are assigned to drugs vary among patients as well as doctors. A patient who has a positive opinion about doctors, nurses and hospitals is prone to have a more positive reply to placebo and on an active drug, in comparison to a patient who has a negative attitude and will more likely deny the beneficial effects of the same drug or will develop side-effects. A positive effect is more likely when both the patient and doctor believe that an intervention will be beneficial. The placebo effect is being observed during each treatment in medicine (e.g. pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy or in surgery) as well as in alternative medicine. The placebo effect is sometimes as strong as certain pharmacological effects of a medicinal substance (i.e. a drug).
There are two factors that have a crucial impact on the placebo effect. The first is, certainly, an optimistic attitude which is also referred to as suggestibility, faith, hope or optimism. The very belief that you are taking a medicinal substance brings improvement. The second is a spontaneous change, which can often be even more important. Namely, spontaneous improvements are often perceived without any treatment. If such a spontaneous improvement appears after applying the placebo (a non-effective substance), it is understandable that the merit for one's betterment will be attributed to the placebo, as inappropriate as it may seem.
Generally, doctors are not fond of giving the placebo intentionally and secretly (opposed to clinical trials) because such "cheating" will disrupt the mutual trust they have built with their patients. However, despite their aversion to prescribe placebo, doctors sometimes meet patients who are completely convinced that they will forestall or suppress some illnesses by taking certain substances, although there is no scientific data to prove this viewpoint. The reason lies in the fact that each drug has a placebo effect, i.e. good and bad effects which are independent from active chemical ingredients.
In order to distinguish real drug effect from placebo effect, researchers have been comparing drugs with placebo. In such studies, half of the subjects have been receiving the drug during the study and the other half have been receiving the placebo which is identical in form. In such studies, it is ideal if the subjects as well as the researchers do not know who has been receiving the real drug and who has been given the placebo (such studies are called "double blind"). Science has determined that each drug has two therapeutic effects: the first one thanks to an active ingredient and the second one because of one's belief that he/she will get better. The latter phenomenon, known as the placebo effect, appears among a third of the patients who receive therapy under the condition that they are sure in its effectiveness.
Many theories, discussions and even comprehensive, serious, pharmaco-biological and clinical trials exist and are directed towards trying to solve the enigma surrounding placebo and its real clinical efficiency. One such recently published research shows how doctors may, one day, start prescribing placebo-pills to their patients suffering from chronic pain. Such pills will reduce the pain as efficiently as any "real" painkiller that can now be found on the market. A research team from the Northwestern University of Feinberg, Chicago has examined the brain anatomy and psychological characteristics of patients and has proven that it is possible to predict which patients with chronic pain will efficiently react to the false "sugar" pill that is placebo.
'Their brain is already prepared to positively respond to placebo', says the leader of the research, Vania Apkarian, Professor of Physiology at Northwestern. 'Its psychological and biological cerebral constitution is the cause of its suggestible state in which, if you claim that the pill will reduce their pain - their pain level will really be reduced. 'Such a patient isn't necessary to deceive', says Apkarian. There is a biological base supporting the placebo response.
Research has shown that all subjects sensitive to placebo have a similar brain centre structure: neural emotional centers are larger in the right side of the brain and their brains have a somewhat larger sensory cortex in comparison with subjects who haven't responded to placebo. Other than that, personality tests showed similar psychological traits: a high emotional self-awareness and an elevated sensibility to painful situations. The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.
Also, it is proven at a neurophysiological level that the use of placebo stimulates the frontal cortex as well as the core of the brain – the grey matter and the amygdala, activating dopaminergic pathways and, in a smaller measure, serotonergic pathways. This activation provokes feelings of relaxation and pleasure which corresponds to an improvement noticed by patients. However, the mechanism of impact of the placebo effect remains to be, in some of its parts, a mystery. What is intriguing in this process is what is seems to be a phenomenon in which abstract thinking effects some very basic and primitive processes which operate in a similar way among animals.
Peter Trimmer, a biologist from the University of Bristol, UK says that it all starter with research that showed that something similar to the placebo effect exists among many animal species. At first sight, this seems to be absurd. Why would an organism, if it can cure itself, wait the placebo's incentive to initiate it? An answer from an evolutionary perspective was offered by a new computer stimulation showing that the defense mechanism has a switch which is under the control of the mind. Trimmer says that there is a simple explanation for such a phenomenon – the process of starting an immune response is so exhausting that a strong and durable incentive might seriously deplete one's energy storages in the organism.
Among a number of recent studies, a research has been carried out among patients who suffer from Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a type of illness which terrorizes a person with alternating constipation and diarrhea. Scientists have told these patients that they will give them a placebo pill made out of an inactive substance which, according to studies, showed a significant improvement through a self-healing relationship between the body and the mind. The result was predictable- a large majority of the patients felt much better.
Also, in another study containing 84 cleaning ladies from 7 hotels researchers wanted to discover if placebo could be used for physical activities. In 4 hotels, the cleaning ladies were told (convinced) that their everyday work fulfills a healthy and active lifestyle. They haven't told anything to the cleaning ladies from the remaining 3 hotels. A month later, they have discovered that the women from the informed group lost, on average, a kilogram in weight, their blood pressure was reduced by almost 10% and were much healthier from the perspective of fat percentage, body mass index as well as the waist to hip ratio.
If you want a better television, you can buy a super mega HD plasma...or invest in placebo effect. A new TV is expensive, but self-deception is free! What is this about? Dutch scientists have carried out an interesting study. Subjects were shown the same video on the same television, but only half of them were told that they can expect a high-resolution image. To make the matter more convincing, they set up commercial materials and flyers around this group's television screen and have connected it to a very large cable. The second group was told that they would be watching a regular DVD video. Subjects have, predictably, fallen for the trick and have concluded that the image was better on the "HD" screen.
Scientists get all sorts of ideas, but Australian psychologists are especially flaky. Their study has researched the effect of alcohol/placebo on the emotion of sadness and it looked something like this. In the beginning, they divided the subjects in groups that will receive alcohol or placebo (apple juice). Then they have put them in a bad mood and served them their drinks. The result was interesting. The improvement in their moods was similar in both groups, but only the feeling of inebriation was comparable. A similar study was carried out among student at Princeton University, New Jersey.
However, the weirdest study was carried out at Baylor School of Medicine which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002 and which evaluated patients who have suffered from serious pain after knee surgery. The corresponding author, Dr. Bruce Moseley, who is an experiences surgeon, knew that the knee surgeries were helping his patients: 'All good surgeons know that there is no such thing as the placebo effect in surgery.' However, he tried to understand which part of the surgery helped his patients the most.
The patients who were participating in this study were divided into 3 groups. One group of patients had their damaged knee cartilage scraped off. The second group underwent a knee joint rinse so that any material that could cause inflammation was removed. The third group underwent "false" surgery, i.e. patients were given general anesthesia and Dr. Moseley gave them 3 standard cuts and behaved as if he was performing surgery. After the procedure, all 3 groups of patients were prescribed the same post-op care which included physical therapy.
The results were shocking. The condition among all patients improved. Dr. Moseley thought the results were both shocking and clear: 'Those patients weren't helped by my surgical skills at all. The whole benefit of the surgery of knee osteoarthritis was the placebo effect.'
The Placebo Effect and Everyday Life
The effects of placebo are usually linked to medicine, but they can be found anywhere around us. Did you know that pedestrian traffic lights are often used just so they could give us a sense of control? Or that the buttons used for closing the elevator door don't have any real function? Or that office buildings often have systems that emit a fake air conditioning noise and also fake heat regulators? Perception is the key to everything – psychologists, doctors, sports trainers (instructors) and various business people (managers), politicians or religious leaders know this and often use it. Sometimes even to our benefit (e.g. psychologists, doctors, sports trainers).
Today's unconventional (alternative) medicine, just like biomedicine, doesn't have any connections to the past (apart from a historical perspective) folk medicine, i.e. treatments done by different medicine men, healers, witches, etc. which is today thought of as backward. In today's terms, it greatly surpasses the ways that medicine men or witches prayed or danced in order to cheer up their gods and return one's health, send rain, etc. All medical systems as well as the parallel ones (alternative) have gone through their own developmental path and successfully supplement each other.
Today's, e.g. homeopathy, ayurveda, acupuncture, acupressure, phytotherapy, Chinese herbal medicine, bioenergetic therapy, reiki, chiropractic, osteopathic, manual medicine, various therapies that manipulate with the spine, bones or feet, aromatherapy, sound therapy, etc. are all systems for which different renowned and serious school and colleges exist in the world and where future experts – therapists are being educated.
Unfortunately, in many countries around the world, the law didn't precisely regulate how to run such a parallel, unconventional and alternative medical system so, because of that, many unqualified therapists-healers have taken advantage of such a chaotic regime and tried to make money thanks to the lack of knowledge and weakness of sick people. Such unprofessional therapists-healers are not at all or are not qualified enough to run such a business. These experts often identify their position of a therapist with some kind of messianic role (especially in the area of spiritual medicine and some forms of energetic medicine) so they turn it into a "comedy" which entirely lowers the value and dignity of their profession.
Such unqualified therapists take advantage of the fact which is pretty know today- thanks to placebo, i.e. placebo therapy 60-90% of illnesses can be improved among patients. Because of this, among others, many unprofessional spiritual medicine therapists, fake astrology experts, tarot card readers and others who unprofessionally take on other methods of esotericism find their place here. All of these different healers as well as some religious and spiritual groups offer one thing- salvation, enlightenment, new cognition, an increase in your physical and psychological performance, your spiritual growth and development. But is it all truly as they say?
Such unqualified (fake) therapists-healers often hang different medical images (charts, anatomy maps, chiropractic maps, maps that depict chakras, etc.) on the walls of their rooms (offices). This way, they are trying to impress you with their "knowledge" and their so-called professional titles so that you can become convinced in their qualifications.
But if you listen to them more carefully, you will see that, from the 639 muscles that the human body has, they are aware of just a portion of them (usually those are the biceps, triceps brachi, deltoid, pectoralis, abdominal muscles, gluteus, rectus femoris, soleus and sometimes the trapezius and adductor). They rarely know for any muscles outside of these groups.
Also, from the 370 acupuncture points on the human body that are known today, such fake experts will show you just as little as 10 acupuncture or acupressure points, usually those that have been known for a very long time. Even when they talk about chakras (although there are many explanations and theories from a scientific and spiritual viewpoint existing today), these so-called experts know how to explain only the basics about the 7 chakras and know very little about the basic flow of energy in the human body through chakras (the vortex of energy).
However, some of these unqualified therapists have something that one can envy them for and it is the way they convince people in the truthfulness of what they are saying, i.e. their healing "powers". Many of them have even convinced themselves that they are the right, i.e. true healers. And, what is most unbelievable, is the fact that there is even a bit of truth in what they are saying, i.e. in their therapeutic healing as well as their healing "powers".
Why is that so? The reason lies in the placebo effect which results from their efforts to convince people in their qualifications and the efficacy of their therapy.
According to some researchers, among 10 randomly chosen people, 4 of them will be totally under the influence of the placebo while 2 more will be partially influenced. In other words, among those 10 people, the placebo effect will, in a higher or lower measure, influence as many as 6 people. According to different research, that is a higher percentage of efficacy than doctors are able to achieve when introducing a new drug. In those cases, they are happy to achieve a 40% efficacy.
This is one of the reasons why today, according to the WHO (World Health Organization), classical medicine is ranked 4th according to its representation around the world. The first three places are held by other parallel medical systems.
The placebo effect is indispensable in aromatherapy. Namely, therapists will try to convince you in the healing properties of their therapy as well as the efficiency of various essential oils, perfumes, scented candles, flower arrangements, etc. that they use. Your head might start to ache thanks to all of the smells, your nose might become irritated or your skin might redden thanks to the oils, but they will say its all a normal occurrence. And you will, of course, believe them.
Similar goes for sound therapy. Namely, therapists will try to convince you that you will feel better if you listen to nature sounds, e.g. the sound of the sea (waves), wind or some birds, even the sound of a harp, violin, guitar, etc. You will feel better if you listen to Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Ravel or a similar composer. The real truth is that you would feel your best if the therapist would let you listen to your favourite music, such as blues, rock, country, etc.
Did you know that the color of a certain drug is not only used to diversify the type of pill, but that it also has a strong placebo effect? Pharmaceutical companies have been using these kinds of findings in color psychology for a long time and so: tranquilizers (pills) are usually blue, stomach medicine is green, strong painkillers and cardiovascular remedies are red, antidepressants and stimulants can be red, yellow or of a pastel color, whereas birth control pills are light blue or pink.
Patients suffering from depression have a better reaction to yellow pills, while patients that have a high blood pressure give advantage to white pills. For most people, red and black pills seem more efficient than those that are white, whereas brown color is thought to have a laxative effect. The shape of the pill as well as her price also play an important role in placebo effect. More expensive drugs are more efficient than a cheap one and a pill that tastes bitter has a better effect than a sweet-tasting one. Also, a pill that has the manufacturer's logo engraved in it will have a stronger placebo effect.
According to some medical-therapeutic theories, a person gets ill from 30% of illnesses that are of a physical or material character and today's medicine cures these types of illnesses pretty successfully. However, people also get ill from 70% of malignant illnesses which are of a spiritual and psychosomatic character and today's medicine is much less efficient in those cases. This is where the placebo effect and its power of suggestion come into play.
No matter the level of education of certain people, as it was previously mentioned, the placebo effect "works" at a higher or lower level among most people. It is sufficient to trust your doctor, the members of your family, your sports trainer, your friends or that you can be convinced by various therapists in the efficacy of their therapy. The placebo effect will come into play.
And if you think that you are not the type of person that can be tricked by placebo- don't be so sure of it because it greatly depends on a given moment or situation. You might be surprised because the placebo effect is much stronger than it is usually believed. An optimistic state of mind, i.e. a will to improve or being convinced that you will improve will gradually lead you to success.
A person who believes that he/she will get better and will succeed will do all the necessary work in order to, sooner or later, achieve that improvement or success. This effect is based on the fact which says that, if you have an expressed opinion that a certain situation or phenomenon will happen, the subject will do all the necessary actions that will cause all the pre-expected situations to happen.
This is often seen in the process of curing patients or when making some important business or life decisions. It can also find its purpose in sports and sport competitions. Your wish and belief in success will gradually lead you to it.
Placebo and the placebo effect, as well as its importance in everyday life, has a much larger role than it is given credit for.
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