Fuck weightloss

BoPo

There I am. Bikini waxing*, knowing what Beyonce was on about when she said pretty hurts. What hurts more are society's expectations about women's body hair, to the point where women in razor commercials are already completely hairless, but I digress.

In an attempt to ease my pain, the esthetician tries to distract me with small talk and surprisingly, it's working. Then she happily states I've lost some weight eh? I freeze for a nanosecond, say "yeah". A similar exchange's been happening quite a few times recently and you usually wonder, but you're there, naked and vulnerable and all, you might as well go deeper while you're at it (no pun intended). Why do people assume I should be happy I've lost weight? I never told my esthetician- or anyone else for that matter- that I wanted to lose weight. So? I'm not obese, so it can't really be a health related concern.

Since we're at it, that's actually a common misconception. You know what they say- and with they, I mean stat professors all around the world, all day, every day- correlation doesn't imply causation.

Because some overweight people are unhealthy that doesn't mean being overweight equals bad health.

Shocking, I know. People who are overweight have a fifty-fifty chance of having high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or elevated blood sugar levels.¹

This other study that examined data from 43,265 people for a duration of 24 years, found that nearly half of the obese participants qualified as "metabolically fit", they didn’t suffer from insulin resistance, diabetes, low levels of good cholesterol, high triglycerides or high blood pressure.²

In other words, healthy.

Hear this one out: among people already diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, those who were obese lived longer than their thinner peers.³ Or this one,

65,000 patients with heart disease and found that overweight and obese people had the lowest risk of early death, compared with normal-weight or underweight patients;

those who were underweight had the highest death risk.⑷ Also, doctors having less respect for patients with higher body-mass indexes can lower the quality of care those patients receive. This article is a must read.

Anywayyyy, can we all agree now that weight isn't in and of itself a marker of health?

I feel like I need a ~disclaimer~. Please do your own research and don't take my word (and 65000+43,265 participants' results) for it. Maybe I've been fooled. I try my best for everything I state to be highly researched and from trustworthy sources, but I'm only human, after allll, I'm only human...

So my esthetician thinks weight loss is inherently a good thing, no big deal. It is a big deal, though ~plot twist~.

A report by the American Association of University Women indicated that for girls, “the way I look” is the most important indicator of self-worth .6

What the hell?  Research showed how more than half of girls and one-third of boys as young as 6 to 8 think their ideal weight is thinner than their current size. By age 7, one in four kids has engaged in some kind of dieting behavior.

Age 15 to 17, more than 90 percent of girls want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, with body weight ranking the highest.

I repeat, what the hell? Girls as young as 6 worrying about their physique should be a big deal. With so many young girls developing eating disorders and having fucked up relationships with food and their bodies, it is. I walked here, I'm surrounded by plants- they smell like spring, I'm enjoying the sunshine on my face, the warmth of my laptop keyboard from said sunshine, a cup of coffee (and the fact that the waiter remembered how I take it), the birds are singing.

I walked here, I'm surrounded by plants- they smell like spring, I'm enjoying the sunshine on my face, the warmth of my laptop keyboard from said sunshine, a cup of coffee (and the fact that the waiter remembered how I take it), the birds are singing. My senses work, my legs work, my fine motor skills are fine AF... To me, that's proof my body loves me and it's doing the best it can to keep me here, while I enjoy the little and big things this world has to offer. Start a revolution: love your body. It's been in love with you for so long and always will be.

Thanks for reading.

*A literal pain in the ass

**Editing this, I realize it sounds slightly ableist. I'm not saying your body doesn't love you if you can't walk, I'm just trying to put things in perspective in regard to body image issues. Still sounds ableist. Can you just take my word for it, that I stand up to all kinds of ableism and ableist slurs IRL & try to educate as many people as humanly possible, in a country where most don't  know what the word means? You're still fine AF, regardless of your motor skills!

¹R.P. Wildman, Ph.D.; P. Muntner, Ph.D.; K. Reynolds, Ph.D.; A. P. McGinn, Ph.D.; S. Rajpathak, MD, DrPH; Ju. Wylie-Rosett, EdD; M. R. Sowers, Ph.D.; "The Obese Without Cardiometabolic Risk Factor Clustering and the Normal Weight With Cardiometabolic Risk Factor Clustering." Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(15):1617-1624.

²Ortega FB, Lee D, Katzmarzyk PT, et al. The intriguing metabolically healthy but obese phenotype: cardiovascular prognosis and role of fitness. European Heart Journal. Published online September 4, 2012.

³Florez H, Castillo-Florez S. Beyond the Obesity Paradox in DiabetesFitness, Fatness, and Mortality. JAMA. 2012;308(6):619-620. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.9776

4Oskar Angerås, Per Albertsson, Kristjan Karason, Truls Råmunddal, Göran Matejka, Stefan James, Bo Lagerqvist, Annika Rosengren, Elmir Omerovic; Evidence for the obesity paradox in patients with acute coronary syndromes: a report from the Swedish Coronary Angiography and Angioplasty Registry. Eur Heart J 2013; 34 (5): 345-353. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehs217

5J Gen Intern Med. 2009 Nov;24(11):1236-9. doi: 10.1007/s11606-009-1104-8. Epub 2009 Sep 18.

6How schools shortchange girls: The AAUW report. A study of major findings in education. Washington, DC: American Association of University Women Educational Foundation.

Drawing of a galaxy jar with a tag attached with the above words] by Rachele Cateyes
Drawing of a galaxy jar with a tag attached with the above words] by Rachele Cateyes

Coffee Thoughts Shop 2: Things to Stop Doing

A penny for your thoughts
Going to cute cafés to get work done + My thoughts = Coffee Thoughts Shop.  Join me on this journey to caffeine poisoning and success (hopefully not both).
  •  talking shit about kids’ appearance, even if they are our most hated politician’s children
  • not texting back the people we love
  • being rude to waiters
  •  flirting with waiters– they just want to work and go home and not get one too many friendly remarks by actual strangers
  • being rude to people handing out flyers– to the people who immediately throw the flyer on the ground in front of the person who handed it to them, there’s a special place in hell for you
  •  worrying too much if there’s a heaven or hell
  • not getting the drink we originally want because it has too many calories? Nourish your body by giving it carrots when it feels like something fresh and high-calorie drinks if it feels like something sweet. Life’s too short to not get what you want.
  • staring
  • using images of happy animals in animal products… Cows are raped for milk, animals are killed for food, and I doubt any of them was ever happy/smiley as advertised #TheFuck (Yes, I’m fun at parties, what do you mean?!)
  • actively trying to see what that person on their laptop is doing. I mean, I *can* see your reflection on the screen…
  • sitting down for looong periods of time. (Guilty, but setting an alarm every hour to remind you to move around the office/house/etc. really helps.)
  • equating health to how thin/fat someone is (fact-based research is a friend)

Thank you for reading. Feel free to share your latest coffee shop thoughts. Was your Espresso Freddo as frothy as mine? The cleaning lady just as nice? Any caffeine epiphanies?

Coffee cup

The advice you never asked for (but a lot of other people did)

A penny for your thoughts

I was searching online on how to bring to life this fancy feature I thought of, I didn’t really know how to Google it though. I typed ‘article how to’ and the most searched questions turned up (turn up yoo) so I thought I’d answer. No one asked me, but I won’t let that stop me.

article how to cope with stress
Check if there’s an actual problem that needs fixing behind your stress. If there is, do something to fix it. If you can’t fix it, learn to accept it. It will make your life and the lives of the people around you way more pleasant. If there’s no issue you can “blame” for your stressful self, besides your anxious nature, learn some techniques to better manage stressful situations, whether by the help of a therapist or your handy dandy Internet.

article how to write
Sit down with your weapon of choice (electronic/pen and paper). Write the first thing that comes to mind. Keep doing that.

article how to overcome stress
Remember, all you have is the choices that you make. Make a conscious effort every day to not let trivial things get to you. Let huge events be a lesson to you, however they turn out.

article how to choose the right friends
Your vibe attracts your tribe. They’re probably looking for you too. Be open to new experiences and meeting new people and try hard to get to know them for who they really are. If you’re thinking of a friend and you have a smile on your face/mind, they’re probably a good friend.

article how to excel in English
Talk more. Read more. Watch more movies/documentaries/shows.

article how to save money
With the money you get, buy only what you need to and do your best to pay your debts, if you have any. Consider saving everything else. Don’t get into debt again.

article how to reduce stress
Cuddle with your cat.

article how to keep the environment clean
If I can only say one thing: reduce your animal products intake.

article how to be safe on the road
Don’t text. It can wait. Think of how other people’s lives will be affected by your driving if you don’t do it right. Don’t hate on the other drivers, maybe they have to be somewhere or they’re just starting out. Be kind. They don’t know you, so it’s not personal, so don’t take it as such.

Definitely cuddle with your cat, though.

 

Some days it feels unnatural to write only three things you’re grateful for

Feminism, Gratefulness

Some days, it feels unnatural to write only three things you're grateful for in your journal, so you write down way more. Other days, you get in a fight with your friend, your partner's being insensitive, you eat chips before lunch then you fall asleep and don't have a proper lunch or dinner, you lose the finished draft of an article (only one you had), listening to the politicians you're supposed to vote for on Sunday makes you gag, two different people from the same company wrote to say your article was rejected, you see this too-cute-to-be-a-stray* dog alone in the street meaning he's lost or was thrown out- all on the same day.

I'll go ahead and say what you're thinking**: children in Africa are dying.

However, as you might (or not) have noticed, there's no transitional word there. No but.*** That's the secret.

If you mention others sufferance to someone sharing their struggles with you, it's not to compare or diminish their pain. It's another problem on its own. If you say but men get raped too as an answer to women getting raped, you're part of the problem.
Tumblr postIf you say but white people get killed too, you're making it about you; white people get killed and men get raped, but that should be your entire sentence. Women get raped and POC are killed way more disproportionately, so your point isn't valid.

I consider myself a pretty grateful person. I think I'm way happier and kinder to the people in my life -and strangers!- after I started paying attention to all the little (and huge) blessings in my life. Like everyone though, I have my moments. They're way less frequent, but if you try to diminish my pain (or happiness, for that matter) because someone out there has it worse/better, you kinda suck.
Likewise, if a queer person is sharing their experience as a queer person with you, you should listen to what they're saying. NOT the moment to say straight people get beat up too. They do, but not because they're straight, catch my drift?!
Something that took me a long time to learn is that pain is not a competition.

White shirt black textPeople across the world are suffering and people across the world are having the time of their life. They say "comparison is the thief of joy", I agree. Be happy, or sad- yu don't own an explanation to anyone for how you're feeling. Especially don't be hard on yourself saying other people could have it worse. Also, to anyone who only brings up certain issues when being confronted about other ones? Check yo self  'fore you wreck yo self. You already know what I stand for.

 

P.S. No, I didn't forget to include my sources, I simply believe some research is better done yourself.

P.S.2 Kinda touched on all the subjects I wanted to, and if you're thinking, what does one have to do with the other, consider that the people trying to invalidate your experiences are doing so for a reason. Hint hint: status quo.

*Stray dogs break my heart, but breeders will probably die in the ~wild~

**Psych majors really DO read minds y'all.

***I thought butt almost immediately and winked ~out loud~, you know, like, to myself, in public. No shame in my game. jk, it was unconscious.

coffee thoughts shop: one

A penny for your thoughts
Going to cute cafés to get work done + My thoughts = Coffee Thoughts Shop. Join me on the road to caffeine poisoning and success (hopefully not both).
  • I wonder if the waiters refer to me as the girl who takes more than an hour to drink ONE espresso
  • Every time I look over at the restroom, someone’s in there
  • A little girl is learning to walk and her mother is in awe
  • Someone tried to put peanut shells in the trash and they fell on the ground and she blamed the bin and left them there #rude
  • Someone approached and asked my opinion on something
  • Turns out he was being compensated 15000$ (for land he was wrongfully taken years ago) instead of 1500$ and I was the one who delivered the news
  • If you yell at kids, you need to chill the fuck out
  • A girl’s been hugging her mother for more than 2 straight minutes now
  • The new chairs here are so art deco though
  • Thought I’d get news today, but I will on the 26th #WishMeLuck
  • Guessed the WiFi password on the first try
  • There are only two bathrooms -one person at a time in each- and people will wait outside their assigned gender bathroom when the other one is free
  • If you remove the women/men stickers, there’s literally no fucking difference #FreeTheBladder
  • Having only two tabs open feels like I’m missing something
  • Unless you’re a baby that has little to no control to what you pay attention to, don’t stare at other people
  • People with gofundme pages are really… courageous, for lack of a better word
  • Someone has on this perfume that reminds me of so many good things ahh
  • Replaced by just-popped-popcorn smell
  • Replaced by freshly brewed (coffee shops’ attempt at) black coffee smell
  • You can say a lot of things about Albania/Albanians, but you can’t deny: 1. fucking breathtaking nature 2. the girls… Oh, the girls!

Thanks for reading (a piece of my mind).

Wine review UFO edition

Drinks

Part of the coolest short story contest by WineTourismSpain

Oh, the joys of being human! It's our last transmission from here, and I sure have something share worthy! As you know, we've been staying in a space called Malaga in Spain on Earth. I've talked about the blue spaces we see from home being oceans. Simply made of salty water, but providing such happiness for humans, especially when it's warm.

Warmth is that feeling I talked about previously, feels like a hug from your loved ones and is provided year-round here. What I've failed to mention is, warmth helps some grape varieties turn into liquid gold. Don't stare at me in disbelief from a whole 'nother universe, but hear me out.

Besides moving their limbs to get to where they need to (walking they call it), moving their bodies for the sake of doing so (exercise they call it), using electronic devices to remember (photos they call it), they use glasses or cups or mugs or bottles or shoes (whatever floats your boat, right) to drink this magical liquid-wine they call it. It's red or white or sometimes even pink.

If you'll only remember one thing about humanity from these transmissions, remember this. How entire generations in this sunny country have dedicated their lives to these grapes that make celestial wine. How people from across the world travel thousands of miles to taste it. Magic that brings people who know, together.

They know the first sip of a fine wine, referring to earlier transmissions here, is like smelling a blooming plant, or how sunscreen on the first day at the beach for this year reminds you of bonfires and crushes and numberless collected shells, listening to a song that seems to have been inside your head, someone that knows your soul and reasons, no questions asked and no explanations needed, those rays of sunshine through the trees...

Wine is the liquid equivalent of love, fellow extraterrestrials. Sharing a sip with someone is consciously choosing to let down your guards, ego, preconceived ideas of how things should be or how others should perceive you and other limitations humans have that I've previously mentioned, by trusting and being your truest most authentic self.

Enough magic for the day? Hope these transmissions have helped even just a bit in knowing people more and I know what you're going to ask. Don't worry, I've already packed plenty.

IMG_0452

Meditation misconceptions

Meditation

This post originally appeared at Literal Shyft. You can also read what inspires me here.

This weekend, I attended a meditation event and once again found it magical how so many people can come together to learn and share such a life-altering, yet deeply personal experience like meditation. However, the more you learn, the more you might see certain patterns. These are some of the myths I come across frequently, which perhaps raise the stigma attached to meditation. Here are a few of the more common misconceptions I have encountered:

20-30 minutes a day, twice a day. If you’re gonna remember ONE thing from this article, let it be this. You don’t have to meditate for 20-30 minutes a day, twice a day. Just like you wouldn’t tell someone who just started working out to do so for an hour a day, 5 days a week.  Similarly, we shouldn’t tell people who are trying to get into meditation the equivalent of that. Or anyone, for that matter. Start with 1 minute. Then try 2, then 3, then 4. Decide what works for you. Do that. As my favorite therapist says: “It’s a process, not perfection.”

Regular meditators don’t get sick. Meditation lowers stress hormones, therefore, making us less susceptible to illness. However, this study shows us that while non-meditators call in sick more often(missing 67 days from work), meditators still occasionally call in sick (they missed 16).

All regular meditators have a strict food regimen. Actually, meditating makes you more mindful of your surroundings and choices in general and food choices are no exception. However, eating “unhealthy” doesn’t make you more or less of a meditator. Especially now, where it’s not just monks in Asia (cliché, I know) who practice meditation, but people of all ages, professions, descents, skepticism and cynicism levels. You can meditate regularly your entire life without ever having to change your eating habits. You can have all the cake and the mindfulness too.

There is a difference between thinking and meditating. We’re still, our eyes closed, just us and our brains…so why aren’t the thoughts that cross our mind before we fall asleep considered meditative? Or when we’re brushing our teeth? According to the Laboratory of Neuroimaging at the University of Southern California, we think 48.6 thoughts per minute or 70,000 thoughts per day. Meditation, on the other hand, is cultivating an awareness of our thoughts, or learning how to not engage with our thoughts.  In other words, meditation helps with that brain noise. Which brings me to…

Meditation = eliminating our thoughts. This is a pretty common one.  However, eliminating our thoughts isn’t an attainable goal (nor one we should be striving for). Our thoughts become the elephant in the room and the more you try not to think, the more you do. Meditation is about being mindful and non-judgmental of your thoughts, and not labeling them as good or bad.  Your meditation practice isn’t ruined if you find yourself thinking of what you’re gonna have for breakfast. You just kindly return to your breath/ mantra/ visualization…

There’s literally nothing bad about meditation. If used excessively, even elixir can turn into poison. In 1992, Shapiro, a professor at UCLA, conducted a study and found some people experienced bad side effects like anxiety, panic, confusion when meditating. Eastern practitioners suggest that these issues might arise when beginning meditators try to go too far too soon.   As with any new practice, starting slow and easy is the way to begin, and then building from there.

There’s only one (right) way to do it.  Some family, friends or teachers might praise their way as the best and the only one that “really works” while diminishing the importance of other types of meditation. However, there are many ways to meditate.  For example, When I was in Sri Lanka I meditated with a monk who taught every kind of meditation to beginners so they could compare and contrast their experiences. For example, mantra meditation doesn’t work for me, and that’s okay. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to meditation.

You need a teacher/retreat/book/… To me, the most wonderful thing about meditation is that to do it, all you need is you. Being mindful of your breath and thoughts is only up to you. Of course, teachers and books help, but they’re not necessary nor essential. What it all comes down to is how willing you are to deepen your relationship with your quietest, truest, most authentic self.

Keep calm and meditate on.

Helping others, being good and other things you wonder about when stuck in traffic

Psychology

Prosocial behavior stands for everything we do for others without expecting anything in return, like helping our neighbors with groceries or helping someone cross the street. As with almost everything, though, people have different opinions on why this happens.

All children are born with empathetic "powers" that allow them to bond emotionally with others¹. Also, Wilson et al have documented prosocial behavior in animals too², so that's cool. So it'd make sense to think we do such actions because of empathy, our core values and a sense of responsibility towards other people we share the planet with (hi guys).

Sociobiologists say this is a genetic response we use to support our genes. However, sometimes, engaging in prosocial behavior can be financially costly, time-consuming, emotionally draining, you get the point...  

According to social exchange theory, people help only when rewards (recognition, fame, etc.) surpass costs, so there's no such thing as true altruism. Boo.

I hope by now you're hooked to know whether we actually help only when helping doesn't imply something we want being at stake. I know I was at the time, so I asked 80 people, ages 20 to 40 what would they do in the following scenario(s):

Today is a very important day for you, you have an interview for the job you really want. You just hopped on your car, when a friend comes and asks for your immediate help to take them to the ER. If you take them, you can/can't get to the interview on time. You ask them if they can return the favor in the future, they say they can/can't. Referring to the scale, to what extent would you help your friend?

So 4 scenarios, the verbs in bold are the interchanging ones. No, you can't call to reschedule. Yes, you lose the job if you don't show up. No, you can't call them a cab, will you stop it with the hypothetical questions already? Participants had to pick a number from 1 to 7, 1 being I wouldn't help them at all and 7 being I would so help them. They were encouraged to include a reason for their choice.

For the record, I know we don't go around interrogating people, who just asked us to drive them to the hospital, whether they can return the favor. But, everything for science and an objectively better study, am I right?!

If we can get to the interview, help our friend and get the hypothetical reward (high reward, low cost), everyone said they would give maximum help.

Second case scenario, low cost, no reward, 20 people (both genders* equally represented btw) said they'd greatly help, a medium of 6.4 out of 7 was found. Some said they'd help regardless of reward, others said they wouldn't help because of the lack of it.

Some said they'd help because friendship is more important than a job, others because a loyal friend can get you a good job. Not very selfless now, are we...

What when our friend promises to return the favor, but we can't make it to the interview? 5.6 out of 7. Someone said they'd only help if the person was terribly sick, if not, they wouldn't risk their (granted they get it) future job. Others said they believe everything happens for a reason, so if they miss the interview, something better is in store for them.

Someone said something I strongly agree with- if their friend was in a poor health state and they could help and the company wouldn't give a shit about that, that's a company they wouldn't want to work at. Same.

Someone said they'd take their friend to the ER and miss the interview no doubt, but they'd call to let them know why they had to miss it, so they'd make a good impression. Hey, whatever floats your boat.

We don't make it to the interview, lose our dream job and our friend says they can't really return the favor, sorry, bro

6.5 out of 7! We'd rather help another human being than get that reward or job. Now, that's good news. People are good, after all. Isn't that realization exciting? Go out there and make someone's day, not for any other reason other than, YOU CAN.

Thanks for reading.

Extra:

Something strange: 2 people could give the exact same explanation and choose different numbers on the scale. People enjoy thinking of themselves as good people, so they answer as such even though their reasoning might be different. Not saying people who wouldn't help are bad. No way. Just cuz you know what I'm talking about when I refer to things as good/bad. I dislike labeling actions as good or bad. You do you, boo.

*No one openly (even though anonymously) identifies as gender fluid/agender/genderqueer where the study was conducted. I probably should've included it as an option anyway. In other news, did you know asking students to confirm their gender before a test leads to lower scores for girls?

¹ Sagi & Hoffman, 1994

² Wilson, D. S., O'Brien, D. T., & Sesma, A. (2009). Human prosociality from an evolutionary perspective: Variation and correlations at a city-wide scale. Evolution and human behavior, 30(3), 190-200.

What do you truly want?

A penny for your thoughts

This post originally appeared at Life in 10 Minutes.

I want to be able to travel whenever I want to wherever I want to. Be able to connect with people across the world and I'm working toward that by creating my website and writing what I want to share with the world.

I believe humans are inherently good. I believe so much in all the goodness that exists in the world: people, nature, animals, vibes. It's all good. I want to be true to myself while helping others. Can't wait to reach more people and write more and more and be paid to do what I so much love to do. I want to have my people by my side, my support system is so strong, I can't wait for the future when I'm making my own living and talking about it with them. My parents, S, N, A, A and everyone who truly cares.

I'm not bitter anymore for a long time now and I hope it stays that way forever. I don't have road rage anymore since coming back from Sri Lanka, I pay no attention to cars or people blocking the sideway. I remember "EVERYONE IS DOING THE BEST THEY CAN". I'm still meditating every day, I'm being good with my body. My eating habits have been back to normal for such a long time now and I couldn't be more grateful to have gone through that and out.

I want to write about women's struggles. About the little things that make our days making our weeks making our months and years. I'm being there, wherever it is I am. I'm present. There. Here. One place. I'm true to myself, this way, I'm true to the whole wide world. I feel everyone should be able to do what they want and make a living out of it. Everyone is being kind to themselves and others. Everyone is happier. Mental health awareness is being spread everywhere and everyone is more cautious and lovely and helpful and good. What I desire most is to spread that and everything I've learned and will keep on learning, helping people with my world, making someone's day is just as important as making everyone's day.

I don't talk badly about others and other's opinions don't bother me, I know who I am and why I am. Music is good and photos are good. Love is the best. I try to love as much as I can. I'm silly. I don't take life seriously, but I take my work seriously. Start contemplating when I notice my coffee cup is still very hot on how things change and that's wonderful and how good coffee is, just liquid gold indeed. Keep up with my people all across the world like Madonna just sang.

She also sang, forget about the bad times. The bad times seem far away and whenever you feel bad you remember it's normal and don't worry about it much, you take extra care of yourself. You're positive about things, even if something goes bad, find the good in that and make it better next time. Breathe the air, it's wonderful. Try to catch sunsets as much as you can. You write in the balcony while the sun sets. You meditate while the sun rises. You're there. You're halfway smiling when you're walking down the street because now that you know you can't unlearn it: it's a good life. Joy can be found in the littlest of things if you look there. Your cat loves you even though he's grumpy. Your hair looks good. The sun is being extra strong today, considering it's March; your favorite month.

Why the placebo effect is the coolest thing ever

Psychology

1994. Lanza and some other cool people published an article about this new drug that would help cure ulcer, in this fancy AF medicine journal. People were like, gimme. Besides people given the actual drug, 44 patients got placebo that looked like the real thing. Same diagnosis, tested after 2 and 4 weeks, they were cured like the patients who got Prevacid (shoutout to Prevacid btw). Placebo is inert, meaning it's not supposed to do anything, but placebo is a rebel and breaks the rules.

A long time ago,  if a monk died (RIP), at 4 pm* the other monks would gather round and read psalm 116: "placebo domino in regione vivorum" aka "I shall be pleasing to the Lord in the land of the living". Physicians started using the term placebo for every medication given to calm the patient when the doc didn't know what else to do rather than to cure. Then, placebo got the meaning it has today, actual inert substances instead of no-good drugs. Including a large range of mental/physical symptoms/disorders, with no known external factors affecting them, patients get better. The placebo response rate in depression consistently falls between 30 and 40%¹. Now that's something, right?!

Placebo relies heavily on the mind-body relationship and the main theory claims the placebo effects depends on the patient's expectations. If the patient expects medication to produce change,  bodily chemical reactions work in such a way that they produce a similar effect to the actual drug. There was no significant difference between patients with asthma that used a placebo inhaler and the ones using the real thing (I love saying the real thing) and even when asked about perceptions, they reported the same feeling of liberation as the other group of patients. ²

You've probably heard of IBS. It's a common problem of a part of the body, with no physical abnormality per se. Patients received placebo treatment in the form of acupuncture, however, the needles used didn't pierce through the skin. 44% of them reported symptom relief, 62% if the acupuncturist was caring, engaging and empathetic.³

Even though we have powerful resources to handle the challenges life throws at us, we can't use them deliberately all the time. Weger asked 40 college freshmen to complete a general knowledge test, with 4 alternative answers to every question they had to pick from.
Half the students were told that the right answer appears on the screen for a fleeting moment and even though it was too quick for them to process it consciously, their brain would register it. Hint: that was a lie. If you guessed the placebo students scored higher than the control group, you guessed right. Feeling safe in the knowledge that your brain knows the answer, lowers your anxiety making what you already know more accessible.

To quote Daft Punk,  your brain works Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.

As you might've figured by now, placebo practitioners have to use deception as a tool sometimes, and in 2010 an avid lover and connoisseur of the placebo effect, Kaptchuk, had enough and he was like "let's just tell them they're getting placebo". Just like that. However, he did inform patients about the placebo effect and how lots get better after placebo treatment. If you guessed they got better, you're right (hopefully again). Human brains just want you to get better and seems like they're all in, even if you're not giving it much to work with in the first place.

As The Weeknd wouldn't put it, just trynna put you in the best mood.

Studies have shown that blocking endorphin release, the placebo effect would also stop; suggesting that it's similar to that of an active ingredient (API). Apparently, a lot of the present neurotransmitters follow the same neural pathways as marijuana or opium. Our brains are that mighty powerful!

Skeptics claim that people suffering from chronic illnesses don't go to the doctor right away, so there is a chance they get better naturally (for a short period of time). Many doctors have been among the skeptics, not very sure what to do with this (relatively new) information. Correlation doesn't mean causation, so they can't know for sure yet, but time (well, studies) will tell, hopefully soon enough.

There are two main points we can take away from this. First, that being supportive and providing (psychological and emotional, besides medical) care can't hurt. If there's the slightest chance you telling them they're badasses means they get 0.001% better, I'd say those odds look pretty good to me.

Reminder: kind words cost nothing, BUT they're invaluable.

Lastly, our brains, ladies and gents. You find snippets of the placebo effect in lots of self-help books, with good reason. I find it magical how our brains know no scientific boundaries when it comes to serving us. Today, I feel grateful for my brain and my body and every little organism inside me working non-stop to keep me here. Here's my new all-time favorite quote from Thích Nhất Hạnh:

Because you are alive, everything is possible.

 

 

 

*I don't know why exactly then, #justmonkthings ?

¹ L. Johnston, Sebastian. Asthma: Critical Debates. John Wiley & Sons, 2008.

² Brown, Walter A. "Placebo As A Treatment For Depression", Neuropsychopharmacology 10.4 (1994): 265-269. Web.

³Kaptchuk, T. J et al. "Components Of Placebo Effect: Randomised Controlled Trial In Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome". N.p., 2017.