Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The power of the placebo

The placebo effect is a well-documented medical phenomena.  New research out adds an important, interesting twist to our understanding of its tremendous powers: apparently, the placebo effect can occur even when the patient is aware that he is taking a placebo!  From an article published in The Globe and Mail:
Harvard researcher Dr. Ted Kaptchuk made this counterintuitive conclusion in a study published last week in Science Translational Medicine. Kaptchuk and colleagues found that the placebo effect greatly enhanced pain relief in migraine sufferers who had the expectation they were getting an effective drug, compared to when they took the active drug with the incorrect label “placebo.” More surprising, however, is that the patients reported significant pain relief, compared to an untreated migraine attack, even when they knew they had swallowed nothing more than a sugar pill.
There's a lot more of value in the article, here. [ht: realclearscience.com]