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Study Shows Placebos Work Even When Patients Know

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Study Shows Placebos Work Even When Patients Know

Another study shows that placebos have the power to heal…

Scientists have found that placebo drugs may actually hold the power to cure people’s ailments, even though no active substances are present in them.

The new research, which looked into how patient’s bodies react when they are aware the medication is fake, found that the placebos were still able to provide a significant amount of relief.

The study, conducted by Dr. Ted Kaptchuk, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, included 80 patients who were suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

placebos work even patients know 1 Study Shows Placebos Work Even When Patients Know

Placebos Work Even When Patients Know

The group, who were mostly women, had an average age of 47 and were recruited through advertisements for ‘a novel mind-body management study of IBS.’

Prior to the test all the participants were told that the placebo pills contained no medication, the bottle of pills was also labeled with a large sticker reading ‘Placebo’. The participants then spent 15 minutes listening to health care experts who explained the powerful effects placebo’s can have on people, before being randomly assigned to one of two groups; those who were administered the placebo, and a control group.

After just three weeks, almost twice the amount of patients treated with the dummy pills reported satisfactory symptom relief compare to those in the control group. And at the end of the study, 59 percent of the women in the placebo group reported adequate symptom relief, compared to 35 percent of the control group.

Many studies have shown that placebos work for some patients, and some experts accredit this to the power of positive thinking. Kaptchuk, however, theorized that the very practice of taking pills to treat illnesses could initiate the brain to change the way patients experience their symptoms, effectively dulling pain and uncomfortable sensations.

Kaptchuk admitted that a larger study would need to be conduct to confirm findings. He now plans to study the long-term effects of such placebos, as well as the reactions of placebos to other illness.

The study, which was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Bernard Osher Foundation, was published online in the Dec 22 issue of PloS One, by the Public Library of Science.


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