Perhaps you’ve heard the term Placebo effect, but do you know what it is or how it works?
The Placebo Effect is a recognised phenomenon and it has played a huge role in the history of medicine. Doctors produce a placebo drug(often are sugar pills) or treatment and test it onto patients. As it shouldn’t cause any reaction, the patient’s claims of experiencing curing or side effects would be according to their belief in the treatment, not due to the science behind it.
Know the difference!
Though it may seem similar, it’s important to note that “placebo’’ and “placebo effect” are 2 different things.
Placebo is a substance or treatment that is inactive; it does not contain any medication. The Placebo Effect on the other hand refers to any effects of taking a certain medicine that isn’t correlated nor possibly attributed to the treatment itself.
Why do people experience curing despite the fake treatments?
Though there hasn’t been a fixed conclusion to this effect, there is an array of factors that possibly contribute to this phenomenon.
- A possible reason is that taking the placebo caused a release of endorphins(natural painkillers from the brain).
- By using brain scans, scientists noticed that the receptors were activated in both placebo and normal treatment.
- The Placebo Effect is highly affected by what the patients perceive. When they have high expectations or have trust in the placebo, they become more likely to experience it.
- Expectations can be increased through the characteristics of the placebo(how realistic the pills work) and the way the medical expert talks about the treatment.
- Yes indeed, your genetics contribute to the response of placebo treatments. Based on scientific research, there are some people who are genetically predisposed to respond to placebos.
- It is proven that people who have a gene variant that codes for higher levels of dopamine are more prone to experiencing the effect compared to those with low-dopamine versions.
The forgotten twin: the Nocebo Effect
- Though sounding very familiar, the Placebo and Nocebo Effect are quite the opposite.
- The Placebo Effect happens when a placebo makes you feel better, but the Nocebo Effect occurs when a placebo makes you feel worse; experiencing side effects.
- The causes are similar, but a huge factor is the way the health authorities communicate and explain the placebo.
- An example would be a doctor explaining the adverse effects of the drug, causing the patient to worry and think of unnecessary possibilities.
- https://www.facebook.com/verywell. “How Does the Placebo Effect Work?” Verywell Mind, 2021, www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-placebo-effect-2795466.
- Raypole, Crystal. “What Is the Nocebo Effect?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 25 Feb. 2019, www.healthline.com/health/nocebo-effect#real-life-examples.
- “The Power of the Placebo Effect — Harvard Health.” Harvard Health, Harvard Health, May 2017, www.health.harvard.edu/mental-health/the-power-of-the-placebo-effect.