/>
X
Innovation

Placebo effect not all in your head

Whether doctors expect something to work or not telling the patient it definitely will work can impact the result. Telling someone an experimental treatment may not work may reduce its chances of providing relief.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

A team under Falk Eippert in Hamburg, Germany reports they have direct evidence that the placebo effect starts in the spine.

The paper (in English) is in Science.

(Picture from Brain & Mind, a Brazilian journal on neuroscience.)

The German experiment consisted of giving subjects two "treatments" to prevent pain, one said to be a lidocaine cream and the other a control. Those given what they believed to be lidocaine experienced less pain, but in fact both creams were identical.

This means the "placebo effect" is real. It causes distinct physiological changes that can be measured.

The mind is still very much involved. Those who believed a treatment would work showed a much greater placebo effect than those who did not believe or were unsure.

The research does more than validate possible new treatments. It also illustrates how many sham treatments, in the present and the past, could provide real relief to patients, by triggering this physiological effect.

There is a second implication in all this, the nocebo effect. Whether doctors expect something to work or not telling the patient it definitely will work can impact the result. Telling someone an experimental treatment may not work may reduce its chances of providing relief.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards

Related

The 21 best Black Friday deals under $30 ahead of Cyber Monday
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

The 21 best Black Friday deals under $30 ahead of Cyber Monday

The 52 best Black Friday deals on Amazon ahead of Cyber Monday
Image of Amazon Echo Show 8 on a wooden table in front of a person cooking and folding pastry dough.

The 52 best Black Friday deals on Amazon ahead of Cyber Monday

The 62 best Black Friday deals at Costco ahead of Cyber Monday
LG 65" Class - QNED80 Series

The 62 best Black Friday deals at Costco ahead of Cyber Monday