Amazing Facts about the Placebo Effect

The placebo effect is defined as the beneficial effect of a treatment that can not be attributed to its ingredients, and therefore is due to the patients belief in the treatment. It is a true testament to the ability of the human body to heal.

A placebo treatment can range from saline injections, to sugar pills, or placebo operations – where the patient will be anesthetized and not operated on.

1. The placebo effect works in animals!

It’s been hypothesized that this is due to the behaviour of owners who believe their animal is getting better.

(PMID: 10511866)


2. It even works on people who know they’re taking a placebo!

And skeptics too! It doesn’t matter how aware you are of placebo effect, you’re just as likely to succumb to its effects.

(DOI: 10.1016/So140-6736(09)61706-2)


3. Four placebo pills, work better than two placebo pills!

We associate more pills with a stronger dose, and the placebo effect seems to match.

(DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2125.1999.00094.x)


4. Placebo injections work better than placebo pills to control pain – even including labor pains

Likely because we associate an injection with a more dramatic course of treatment so the placebo effect is stronger.

(PMID: 10212322)


5. Even placebo surgeries have been shown to work.

In some cases, these have shown to be as effective as the operation itself.

(DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa013259)

The reported benefits of ‘treatments’ such as homeopathy, reflexology, aromatherapy, and other unfounded treatments are examples of the placebo effect in action.

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