The mind has much more power than we imagine for people’s physical and emotional health . The mind can have a powerful influence on the body, and in some cases it can even help the body heal. The mind can even trick you into believing that a fake treatment has real therapeutic results, a phenomenon known as the placebo effect. In some cases, these placebos can exert a powerful enough influence to mimic the effects of real medical treatments.

But the placebo effect is much more than positive thinking. When this response to a sham treatment occurs, many patients have no idea that they are responding to what is essentially a “sugar pill.” Placebos are often used in medical research to help doctors and scientists better discover and understand the physiological and psychological effects of new drugs. To understand why the placebo effect is important, it is essential to understand a little more about how and why it works.

What is it

The placebo effect has a benefit in the administration of an inactive substance or a sham treatment. A placebo is a substance with no known medical effects, such as sterile water, saline, or a sugar pill. A placebo is a sham treatment that in some cases can produce a very real response. Why do people experience real changes as a result of bogus treatments? Patient expectations play an important role in the placebo effect; the longer a person waits for the treatment to work, the more likely they are to show a placebo response.

In most cases, the person who does not know that the treatment they are receiving is actually a placebo. Instead, they believe they are the recipients of the royal treatment. The placebo is designed to look exactly like the real treatment, be it a pill, an injection, or a consumable liquid, yet the substance has no real effect on the disease or condition it claims to treat.

It is important to note that a “placebo” and the “placebo effect” are different things. The term placebo refers to the inactive substance itself, while the term placebo effect refers to any effect of taking a drug that cannot be attributed to the treatment itself.

How Placebos Are Used in Medical Research

In medical research, some patients in a study may be given a placebo while other participants receive the actual treatment. The purpose of doing this is to determine whether or not the treatment has a real effect. If participants taking the actual drug show significant improvement over those taking the placebo, the study can help support the drug’s efficacy claim.

While a placebo has no effect on disease, it can have a very real effect on how some people feel. The degree of intensity of this effect depends on a variety of factors. Some things that can influence the placebo effect include:

    • The nature of the ailment
    • The strength in which the treatment works
    • The type of response to be expected
    • The positive messages that the doctor brings to the patient
  • Genes may also play a role in how people respond to placebo treatments

Some people may have a genetic predisposition to respond more strongly to placebos. People who have high or low variations in a gene that controls dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex of the brain  had different responses to a placebo. Those with the high-dopamine version of the gene were more likely to experience a response to a placebo treatment than those with the low-dopamine version of the gene. People with the high-dopamine version of this gene also tend to have higher levels of pain perception and reward seeking.

When testing new drugs and other treatment approaches, scientists are interested in whether this new treatment has value in treating a disease that outweighs any potential risks. Through their research, they want to know if the treatment is effective, the type of side effects it could produce, which patients may benefit the most, and whether it is more or less effective than other treatments that are already available. By comparing the effects of a treatment with a placebo, the researchers hope to determine whether the effects of the drug are due to the treatment itself or caused by some other variable.

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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