• Question: How does the placebo effect work

    Asked by LoLx4191 to Lewis, James, Sandra on 16 Mar 2017.
    • Photo: Sandra Greive

      Sandra Greive answered on 16 Mar 2017:

      We’re still trying to understand this. The funny thing is that it can even improve symptoms when the patient knows the treatment is a placebo. Its almost as if doing something about getting treatment is treatment in itself. However, most new treatments are tested against no treatment or placebo treatment (if this won’t cause the patient undue suffering) or against older treatments that are known to work. As far as I am concerned, if I am feeling better, I don’t care whether its placebo or a direct change due to the treatment.

    • Photo: Lewis Wright

      Lewis Wright answered on 16 Mar 2017:

      Placebos make you feel better when they isn’t active actually inside them; ‘nocebos’ will make you feel WORSE when there’s nothing active actually inside them.
      This is true for things like ‘This will/won’t hurt’ – if you expect something, it goes more the way you’re expecting.

      The fact that it works both ways shows how much influence your brain has over your body, and how powerful belief is.

      Although I didnt know it even worked when you knew it’s a placebo, that’s very interesting.