Yes, for me as well I have seen that most people feel the qi moving into the area pf pain and feel the sick qi leaving.
Don't know about serious illness, but I have worked on people with pains etc and they all claim that they can feel something move out of their body and me being able to affect them without touching them physically and they get relief (sometimes temporary and sometimes permanent)...
Placebo vs non-placebo...now that question is interesting. If something helps you heal, so what? Placebo is a term to explain something that doesn't have a known scientific explanation in context of healing. Any healing is always going to be a combination of the healer, patient and medicine. If the healer is sending a "message" via whatever form to the patient, the patient's consciousness is also working to accept that message (at whatever level) and working with the treatment and the healer.
I also have no problem with placebo effect and agree with you guys that say if it heals, does it matter?. Goodness, we are talking about problems that have tremendous effect on people's lives, so if they get better by believing that they will if they go bury an egg under the full moon and they do so then by all means it is a grand thing.
I guess it kinda depends on one's definition of "placebo". I personally have always considered placebo effect to be mind-body medicine. In other words, for it to work a belief that it will work needs to be established. And since the medical qigong that I teach does not depend on belief (animals have no belief one way or the other)I say it is most definitely not a placebo effect.
That great source of info , wikipedia says this:
"A placebo ( /pləˈsiboʊ/; Latin: I shall please) is a simulated or otherwise medically ineffectual treatment for a disease or other medical condition intended to deceive the recipient. Sometimes patients given a placebo treatment will have a perceived or actual improvement in a medical condition, a phenomenon commonly called the placebo effect.
In medical research, placebos are given as control treatments and depend on the use of measured deception."
By this definition, by the fact that it works on animals with no belief as well as people who are of the definitely-by-god-you-must-be-shitting-me-you-fucking-idiot non-believer ilk, medical qigong is not a placebo.
Edit: For a contrary opinion, there are those that believe this is what a placebo is:
Edited by Ya Mu, 23 February 2012 - 12:31 PM.