The Placebo Effect

Almusrati, Doha (2018-05-05)

The placebo effect is a remarkable phenomenon in which a placebo (a fake treatment), an inactive substance (sugar, distilled water, or saline solution) can sometimes improve a patient's condition simply because the person has the expectation that it will be helpful. If the person expects the pill to do something, it’s possible the body’s chemistry can cause effects similar to what a drug might have caused. The fact that the placebo effect is tied to expectations doesn’t make it imaginary. Some studies show that there are actual physical changes that occur with the placebo effect


The aim of this report is to demonstrate the effects and mechanism of placebo, which is something that’s supposed to act through a psychological mechanism. The placebo first came out in 1811 and was first defined in the early 1960s as “any therapeutic procedure which has an effect on a patient, symptom, syndrome or disease, but which is objectively without specific activity for the condition being treated” (1). The placebo is an aid to therapeutic suggestion. The effect that’s produced may be psychological or physiological and it may produce a beneficial result or toxic effects like headaches, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or even fatigue. The most frequently used placebo is the sugar pill in drug trials, placebos can be and have been used for all kinds of interventions, ranging from placebo pills for headaches and placebo doses for postoperative wound pain to placebo vaccines for preventing cold and placebo surgeries for alleviation of heart disease. The mechanism of action of the placebo is still unknown but it’s believed to be either stimulus-expected by inert substances, or might be because of the anticipation of one’s own automatic reactions to various situations. There are some factors that may contribute in the effect of the placebo, like the patient’s attitudes, habits, educational background, and personality types and characteristics. Other factors include the doses of the placebo taken and the consistency, but the consensus was that no consistent placebo reactor was out there

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