15 Amazing and Scientifically Proven Facts on the Placebo Effect

15 placebo effect facts

#15: Placebos actually work

Placebos work Placebo effect fact

Yes, the Placebo effect actually works!

Placebos can have a real and measurable effect when it comes to shining  a light on the ability for humans to heal themselves.

Evidence has shown that the immune system can be triggered on and off with the mind which dictates when the body needs to heal, with the placebo being the catalyst.

Patients taking a placebo respond twice as well compared to those taking no placebo pill.

#14: Placebos work on animals

Vet is giving a placebo pill to the dog.

Thirty four dogs with epilepsy underwent placebo effect studies. Data on the number and frequency of seizures was collected on the canines. After the experiments the results showed that of the dogs that received placebos 28 of the 34 showed a decrease in seizure activity.

The study concluded that placebos do work on animals and that more placebo effect studies should be directed at veterinary medicine.

#13: Placebo Effect through infections

Placebo effect through infections

Would you like to be infected with hookworm to cure your ailments? Placebo effect studies have lead doctors to experiment with infections to test whether they work the same way as placebos.

It has been studied and suggested that hookworm infection protects against asthma. 32 people with asthma were sorted into a double blind study. One group was infected with hookworm larvae and the other group was given a placebo of histamine solution.

The results showed that both groups improved. The placebo effect did in fact work through infection, or the belief in having an infection.

#12: You can get drunk off the Placebo effect

Fake alcohol, placebo drunk

Psychologists say that a part of drunkenness is only in the mind. Researchers have found that those who believe they are drunk exhibit poor memory and cognitive abilities.

A university in New Zealand fooled 148 students into drinking what they believed was vodka but was actually water and lime. The results were that the students became drunk off their own minds. Their judgement was as impaired as it would have been on real alcohol.

If you don’t believe it, you can watch one experiment yourself.

 

#11: Drug companies have to invest millions to be more effective than a placebo

Placebo effect and depression

Placebo effect and depression

If you suffer from depression as many people worldwide do, there is more hope than you think. Placebos have the same effect as antidepressants without the negative side effects.

Those suffering from severe depression did show some signs of remission but this is probably because the placebo stopped working so well, rather than the drugs working better.

Up to 80% of antidepressant efficiency is due to the placebo effect. Only those with severe depression may need real antidepressant medication. So there are healthy alternatives out there for the millions of people suffering from depression.

#10: Culture defines what placebos work best for you

A study in the United States found that placebo injections had 1.5 times more powerful of an effect than that of placebo pills. Americans are more inclined to believe that injections are stronger because they have been vaccinated since birth. A European study found that pills had a more powerful effect than injections.

Cultural language and factors contribute to how we perceive certain drugs. Americans are bombarded with advertisements for medication, making injections seem less common and only needed in dire situations, thus making them more powerful.

#9: The placebo effect is particularly effective against pain

Everyone knows acupuncture can help those who suffer from migraines, but reviews of medical studies have shown that the same effect occurs even when the needles are placed in the wrong areas.

The placebo effect of acupuncture appears to be stronger than the actual puncturing of points on the body. Patients tested with acupuncture and no painkillers suffered less headaches than those who only took painkillers.

This means that people suffering with headaches and migraines could avoid painkillers if they want to avoid drugs and simply take placebos instead.

#8: Homeopathic remedies don’t work better than a Placebo

The body and mind interact in ways we have yet to understand. Some, but not all, homeopaths want to believe that their medicines have spiritual healing powers. People want to debate on whether this is true or not and at this time no real answers can be found because who knows. But what is known is that placebos work just as well as homeopathic remedies.

Placebo experiments have been done facing homeopathic remedies against placebos and the results are that they have nearly equal results. The patients do not know if they are receiving a homeopathic pill or a sugar pill so it can be assumed that just maybe homeopathy also works through the placebo effect.

#7: The Placebo has an evil twin: The Nocebo Effect

“I will harm”
*Cue ominous music while thunder crackles in the background*

Which is as just as ominous and terrifying as it sounds.

Matter and antimatter, thesis and antithesis, Placebo and Nocebo.

If you expect negative side effects from a medication, you are likely to experience them through the Nocebo effect.

An Italian gastroenterologist did a study asking people who suffered with lactose intolerance to take lactose in order to review their bowel symptoms. What they didn’t know was that they were actually given glucose, which would not cause bowel symptoms. What resulted was 44% of people with lactose intolerance and 26% of people without it complained about gastrointestinal problems.

Our expectation of a drugs positive effects can be just as strong as our negative expectations.

#6: The colors of Placebo pills dictates how well it works

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Whether we realize it or not, subconsciously colors and shapes have an effect on the human mind. A study at the University of Cincinnati tested blue and pink stimulants and sedatives on students. They were actually placebos but results showed that the blue placebo was 66% effective and the pink was only 26% effective. The blue placebo was about 2.5 times more effective at relaxing than the pink placebo.

Research has shown that yellow pills help more with depression and red pills cause alertness. Green pills help with anxiety and white pills ease stomach problems. We are such superficial beings that the pills work even better with a brand name stamped on them.

#5: Placebo Surgeries are actually effective

How would you like to save money with a fake surgical procedure that still makes you feel better? Research has shown that artificial surgeries can be just as effective as real surgeries thanks to the placebo effect.

A study was done on 180 patients, randomized into groups. Some received real surgery and some a placebo surgery. The results showed that those who had undergone real surgery showed no more improvement than those with the placebo.

#4: The placebo effect is continually growing more powerful

It is believed that our social conditioning has made the placebo effect even stronger than it was in the 1700s when the placebo was first noticed. The faith we put in technology, medicine, and medical professionals increases the power of the placebo.

Expectation of a cure aids the cure. When we believe the doctor and the prescribed pills will heal us they do just that. As technology becomes even more advanced the placebo effect will continue to grow and our mind will be able to heal in more advanced ways than it already does.

#3: Medicine and therapies that patients are unaware of are less effective than ones patients are informed about

Placebos work by the expectation of a cure. However, even when the patient finds out the placebo is a sham, it still continues to work.

You would think that upon finding out the drug is fake it would stop working, but this has lead doctors to believing that in the future placebos could be given out while knowing fully that they are only sugar pills.

#2: The placebo effect plays a role in every medical treatment and medication

Thanks to the placebo effect, medication works better than they do simply on their own. Conditioning and expectation is what helps the patient heal. Medical treatment comes with trust in the medical professional reviewing your charts and diagnosing you. The medication prescribed is aimed at healing whatever ailments you are suffering.

The placebo effect of the mind assists the medical treatment by encouraging the body to heal itself.

#1: There are serious considerations towards banning placebos in sport competitions

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The placebo effect works so well a debate has started over their use on athletes in sports competitions.

Placebo effect studies at the University of Turin, Italy, tested the placebo effect on young male athletes’ pain endurance while using exercise equipment. By restricting blood flow in the participants’ arms, pain was caused after a certain amount of time. Morphine injections given during the first practice session allowed them to run for a longer period of time. The next week a fake morphine injection was given and the participants were still able to exercise for longer without feeling pain.

This raises the question, can placebos be considered enhancement drugs during competition and should they be banned?

Further reading:

Placebo Effect :
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19912522
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528812.300-evolution-could-explain-the-placebo-effect.html
Depression:
http://www.pharmalot.com/2012/02/what-benefit-antidepressants-the-placebo-effect/
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2008/feb/26/mentalhealth.medicalresearch
Placebo Drunkenness:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2634499.stm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rFCdhr6l3ls
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91kPce2Ezms
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ox8QpxltSY
Placebos and drugs:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-r-hamilton-phd/the-placebo-effect_b_843435.html
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/03/enhancing-the-placebo/?_r=0
Work even if you know its a Placebo:
http://www.theguardian.com/science/2010/dec/22/placebo-effect-patients-sham-drug
Pain and the Placebo Effect :
http://www.theguardian.com/science/2009/jan/20/acupuncture-headaches-migraine-placebo
Placebos and Homeopathy:
http://www.theguardian.com/science/2007/nov/16/sciencenews.g2
Nocebo Effect:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/12/opinion/sunday/beware-the-nocebo-effect.html?_r=0
Placebos are getting more effective:
http://www.wired.com/medtech/drugs/magazine/17-09/ff_placebo_effect?currentPage=all
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124367058

Study Finds Common Knee Surgery No Better Than Placebo:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/07/020712075415.htm

 

 

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