Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Placebo doping?

Here's another twist on doping in athletes . . .

. . . recall that in previous blog posts I explored several types of doping: blood doping, drug doping, genetic doping, and so on. In a recent article on the placebo effect that I read in Scientific American Mind I learned about a new kind of doping . . . that is legal, apparently.

Morphine is on the banned list for athletic doping. An advantage of using morphine would be to reduce pain during an intense athletic event--pain that could reduce performance. According to a sidebar in the article, studies show that if an athlete is given morphine during training (which is legal), then abstains long enough for the morphine to clear the system, then takes a saline injection (placebo) on the day of competition, the athlete experiences reduced pain.

If this turns out to work consistently, with many different athletes, I wonder if use of drugs during training will be banned.

For more on doping, see my article at The A&P Professor website.

Here's the article on placebos:

Placebo Effect: A Cure in the Mind
Maj-Britt Niemi
Scientific American Mind online, February 2009

Here's the research behind the "doping" by placebo concept:

Opioid-Mediated Placebo Responses Boost Pain Endurance and Physical Performance: Is It Doping in Sport Competitions?
F. Benedetti, et al.
The Journal of Neuroscience, October 31, 2007, 27(44):11934-11939; doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3330-07.2007

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