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The Science Behind: The Placebo Effect

Perhaps you’ve heard the term Placebo effect, but do you know what it is or how it works?

Know the difference!

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?

Hormone response

  • By using brain scans, scientists noticed that the receptors were activated in both placebo and normal treatment.


  • 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.


  • 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

  • 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.


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