Placebo effect or the belief effect, is one of the greatest mystery of of neuroscience. Its fascinating that something as inert and harmless as a sugar pill could relieve a person’s pain or hasten their recovery just by the expectation that it would. The word “placebo” comes from Latin and means “I shall please.” In study after study, many people who take a placebo show improvement in their symptoms or condition.
It’s a miracle, due to which our brain heals itself because it thinks, this is actual therapy and it will heal the disease. This belief healing is used for ages.
Placebos are essential to the design of reliable clinical trials. Even inactive treatment has repeatedly demonstrated a measurable, positive health response. Sometimes multivitamins, minerals etc act as placebo. The power of the placebo effect lies in our mind. It relies on our belief.
#1: WHAT IS PLACEBO EFFECT?
Placebo medications contain no active ingredients but if the participant thinks they are taking medicines, a placebo can improve their physical condition.The placebo effect describes any psychological or physical effect that a placebo treatment has on an individual. It’s an essential part of all good clinical trials. It’s all in our trust, that this medicine can improve our condition.
#2: IT ALSO DEPENDS UPON ROUTE!!!
Route of medicine also has importance. Its very common too. I have heard many patients telling that their pain went away due to some injection prescribed by local pharmacy. Most of the time the injection was some vitamin.Placebo interventions vary in strength depending on many factors. For instance, an injection causes a stronger placebo effect than a tablet. Two tablets work better than one, capsules are stronger than tablets, and larger pills produce greater reactions.
#3: SOMETIMES COLOUR HAS IMPORTANCE!!!
Red, yellow, and orange are associated with a stimulant effect, while blue and green are related to a tranquilizing effect.
#4: WHERE IT WORKS BEST?
Pain: Ability to reduce pain is referred to as placebo analgesia. It is believed to work in one of two ways. The placebo initiates the release of natural painkillers called endorphins. It’s otherwise called happy hormones. Sometimes they change the individual’s perception of the pain. It increases the pain threshold.
Depression: The effect of antidepressants is believed to be reliant on the placebo effect. Sometimes placebo acts as mood enhancers.
Anxiety: Many studies have shown response of placebo in anxiety Disorders.
Sleeplessness: Many types of chronic insomnia improves well with placebo therapy.
Cough: Placebo medications help well in cough.
Placebo has shown good efficiency in many diseases. Many good clinicians use placebo for treatment.
#5: HOW IT WORKS?
Part of the power of the placebo lies in the expectations of the individual taking them. These expectations can relate to the treatment, the substance, or the prescribing doctor.On the other hand, if the individual does not expect the drug to work, or expects there to be side effects, the placebo can generate negative outcomes. In these cases, the placebo is instead referred to as a nocebo. That’s why we all have experienced drugs working well when the patient trusts the doctor. But on the contrary, those people who have trust issues, even best medication has suboptimal effect. Expectation and trust decreases cortisol levels in body which helps in conditioning.
Brain imaging studies have found measurable changes in the neural activity of people experiencing placebo analgesia. Areas that have been implicated include parts of the brain stem, spinal cord, nucleus accumbens, and amygdala. Strong placebo responses have also been linked to increases in dopamine and opioid receptor activity which increases reward and motivation pathways in the brain.
From ancient times we have seen positive outlook can help to cure illness. Perhaps positive attitude improves immunity. Expecting improvements in health can impact the efficacy of an individual’s immune system.
Our brain is such marvelous organ. It can cause wonders. Placebo effect is one of the biggest example of it.
Please read and share.
Evans D. Placebo: The belief effect. London: HarperCollins; 2003.
Oh VM. The placebo effect: can we use it better?.