When you get sick, what is it you do? Well, for most people, they go down to the hospital, where the doctor gives them prescription for certain medication that will make them feel better. Most often than not, you take the medicine – careful not to tinker with the recommended dosages – and in a few days, you’re better. However, what if all of this was a lie? What if the medication your doctor has been giving you over the past few days was actually not medication at all? However, despite all this, you’ve actually gotten better? This is the placebo effect.
What causes the placebo effect, though? And even more, why does it even happen? Well, let’s answer your questions.
No, it isn’t simply just a sugar pill, if that’s what you were thinking about. The sugar pill actually has nothing to do with the placebo effect – it’s just the medium to which it is administered. There have been countless discussions on how and why this happens, but thankfully, so far, they all boil down to one.
The placebo effect happens upon description of an effect caused by medication (, etc.), to which the body expects pain relief, but rather, without the presence of any actual medication that to this purpose, administers pain relief by itself. Meaning the expectation of something happening, causes it to happen.
It’s a strange phenomenon and something that isn’t really easily replicated anywhere else.
In fact, it gets even weirder. It’s been found that upon administering a medication that’s being taken long-term to alleviate symptoms, upon switching of said medication to a placebo, the effects persist. This has actually been clinically tested, and in fact, is in practice today in many hospitals around the US – without the knowledge of the patients.
However, there is still much research to be done about the placebo effect. Even after learning so much about it, we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. With the latest advancements in neuroscience and technology, though, it will only be a few short years before we finally truly understand this phenomenon.
This just shows how amazing the human brain and body is. With enough determination, and strong beliefs to get better, the body does, in fact, get better.