3 health facts about the placebo

Fact #1

How do the size, shape, color and price of placebo tablets affect health?

The size, shape and number of tablets affect the degree to which the placebo effect occurs. 2 tablets that contain nothing but starch help more than one.

Capsules are more effective than tablets, and most patients respond better to injections than capsules.

There is even a surgical placebo: for example, in a study conducted in the USA, in which patients suffering from osteoarthritis after knee surgery were included, they felt much better, regardless of whether the surgical procedure was performed or not.

Patients in the placebo group simply had their skin cut and were shown a video of the operation.

The color of the tablets is also important. For example, the placebo effect in depression will work best when the tablets are yellow. And with a stomach ulcer the white pills will be the most effective. When the name of the medicine is indicated on the surface of the pill, then the placebo will manifest itself the strongest.

Finally, the value of the drug also affects the manifestation of the placebo effect. For example, from the results of a study, it was found that the placebo was more effective when the price of one tablet of the medicine that the participants were takingwas 2.5 dollars and distinctly weaker when the price was indicated of 10 cents.

Fact #2

How does placebo work?

The placebo effect is believed to be purely psychological, as all patients believe in the efficacy of the drug. As a result, people really start to feel better.

Nevertheless, research shows that the condition on a purely physical level of patients taking a placebo does improve.

The underlying physiological cause of the disease is often “absorbed”.

One study found that in people suffering from Parkinson’s disease, in a certain area of ​​the brain, the amount of dopamine – one of the brain’s signaling substances, which also performs the function of a hormone and ensures communication between neurons, increases when they take placebo tablets.

Most scientists accept that the death of the cells that synthesize dopamine in the basal ganglia is the cause of the neurodegenerative disease.

Fact #3

Adverse effects of placebo

A starch tablet can not only improve the patient’s condition, but also lead to a deterioration of the health condition.

The effect of the nocebo effect occurs when the attending physician warns that the medicine /not containing any active ingredients/ may cause the appearance of some unwanted side effects during its administration.

In this case, experimental data show that the unpleasant symptoms experienced by people suffering from the nocebo effect are completely real.

For example, in one study it was found that participants began to feel pain after being warned that they would be taking a drug (placebo starch tablet) that would activate areas of the brain that produce painful sensations .

The nocebo effect can take on a radical form.

This is evidenced by the case described in 1973 of a man who was diagnosed with liver cancer and whose doctors told him that he would only live a few months.

But when the man died, an autopsy was performed and pathologists suspected malignancy as the cause of death. And now it is difficult to say what is the exact cause of the man’s death – the disease or the expectation of death.

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