Placebo: Good In Every Way

Placebo effect has for a long time puzzled scientists and general public alike. The profound effect of a sugar pill is undeniably as therapeutic as the pill with actual medical ingredients.

Last research into placebo effect has revealed some revelatory conclusions. Even when the patients are told that the pill is merely a placebo, the sweet spoon of medicine does the trick.

“80 people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)—which includes symptoms like chronic abdominal pain, discomfort, and irregular bowel movements—for “a novel mind-body management study of IBS” in fliers and newspapers. All had a 15-minute conversation with a sympathetic doctor or nurse who told them that they would get either placebo pills or no pills at all. They were also told that placebos contain no active ingredient but can have a powerful effect because the body responds to them “like Pavlov’s dogs” to a bell. The placebos—blue and maroon gelatin capsules—were given in a bottle labeled “placebo pills.” There’s no doubt whatsoever that patients realized they were inactive,”

Despite this the pills proved effective: patients rate improvement on a scale between 1 and 7, showing in those who took the placebo scored an average of 5.0, compared with 3.9 in the control group.

Bam! Not what you expected. The research may finally relieve medical professionals from the great conundrum: most doctors avoided prescribing placebo due to the fact that lying to the patients, telling them that the pills contain medicinal ingredients, is unethical and potentially opens doors to more litigious conflicts in future.

The placebo effect also may give a boost to holistic medicine – the medicine contains not even trace amounts of ingredients, and rather consist of mostly water.

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