The placebo effect is the extraordinary phenomenon of people getting better, even when they had a dummy treatment. It could be a sugar-based supplement or a fake ultrasound treatment when someone puts a machine on you and it doesn’t turn it on. It can be a fake surgery when somebody cut’s you a little, and it pretends to be a surgery, but it doesn’t actually do anything. The amazing thing is that it turns out when you get this fake treatment to get better.
What’s interesting about placebos is that they show the amazing power of the mind over the body, not in an SF way but in a very good sense, we can really eliminate our pain, we can really improve our own symptoms through beliefs and expectations.
All of the adverts, all of the magazine’s adverts, have built up in your memory and increased your expectations of a brand named package. What is also interesting is that the effects seem to work on everybody, it doesn’t matter if you are skeptical. Even children and animals respond to the effects, because the people around them caused their expectations of the treatment, and is natural to expect that your children will react to your expectations so they will get better and it’s a fascinating example. The most interesting thing is comparing one dummy treatment with other dummy treatment, and that’s what shows the placebo effect work.
, For example, we know that four sugar supplement a day is better than two sugar supplement a day in a gastric problem and that’s outraging! Gastric ulcer is very easy to diagnose, you put a probe with a light in front, gets to your neck, you take a photograph of the stomach and you can say the ulcer is there or is not. Four sugar supplements clear gastric ulcer better than other vitamins, placebos work better.
We know that the color of vitamins is important so it turns out that people associated green or blue vitamines as being sedating ones, red or blue of being alerting ones and so what’s interesting about that is that the pharmaceutical industry know this too and they make the packages in those colors.
There have been several studies of pain, looking at the placebo effect and they show that a simple water injection that has absolutely no ingredient is a more effective treatment for pain than a dummy sugar vitamin that is supposed to look like a painkiller, and what’s interesting is that the water injection doesn’t have any chemical composition in it also the sugar vitamin, the fact is that an injection feels like more dramatic and serious treatment and that’s why people experience more pain release.
The interesting thing about research is what you do with it. All the research has shown that lying to the patients that the treatment is working can help them get better, actually when you give someone placebos you don’t expose him to any physical side effect, it’s not ethical but in a way, you can help them get better. Actually, the results of the studies say that the way you give the treatment matters.
Amna Sheikh is a medical doctor with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), Bachelors in Economics and Statistics. She is also a medical writer working as a freelancer for 10+ years and she is specialized in medical, health, and pharmaceutical writing, regulatory writing & clinical research. All her work is supported by a strong academic and professional experience.