How the Placebo Effect Works

Posted by on Nov. 12, 2012

How the Placebo Effect Works

Headaches are annoying. Some people have tried almost everything to alleviate the pain, from home remedies to relaxation exercises, but nothing seems to work. In this case, maybe “nothing” may work because according to some medical professionals, placebos have the capability to cure a headache.

According to studies, patients benefit from placebos through their own expectations. Now, it is important to establish that the people who have experienced positive effects from placebo drugs are not lying, cheating, or crazy. Their pain disappeared because they believed the drugs to be effective, not because they consciously wished for it to work.

To explain further, let us define the “placebo effect.” The effect occurs when a patient’s symptoms is alleviated by an otherwise ineffective treatment, such as by giving a patient starch pills that have no effect on the body and telling him that it works. Most researchers use placebo pills to see whether a tested drug has any healing properties beyond what occurs when people take the pill. The placebo effect is not a deception, a fluke, or a statistical anomaly. Rather, it is a product of positive expectations and works as well as the patient expects it to work.

Belief is a very powerful drug. It is indeed amazing how a simple starch pill can relieve a headache, as long as the patient believes that it works.


[Photo Credit: SnaPsi Сталкер on Flickr]

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