The placebo effect is the result of the power of our mind

The placebo effect is the result of the power of our mind
Picture: Microgen | Dreamstime
Victoria Mamaeva
Pharmaceutical Specialist
Alexey Shestakov
Clinical psychologist, hypnotherapist

Among the many modern drugs, there are those that collectively are called placebo, that is, a pacifier.

What is placebo?

The history of this term goes back to biblical times. It meant strangers who went to wakes, sang funeral psalms and ate on that. This continued until the end of the eighteenth century.

It was not until 1785 that the word placebo began to be used in a medical sense. And since 1811, it began to mean all medicines prescribed more to calm the patient than to cure him. This was due to the fact that pharmacology was not developed enough to have all the necessary drugs. So the doctors prescribed pacifiers, which at least did not harm people. However, observing the patients, they noticed that many of them began to feel better and even recover.

Placebo effect scientists explain by the fact that a person is ready for self-hypnosis and is able to start recovery processes in the body without the use of real drugs by the power of his mind.
The immune system is a unique mechanism that allows a person to survive
The immune system is a unique mechanism that allows a person to survive

With the help of a placebo, you can soothe various pains, bring the patient out of depression, feel improvement in acute respiratory viral infections, oncology, and disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. Some women even claimed that the miracle pill allowed them to recover from infertility.

Until the middle of the twentieth century, placebos were widely used. They were about 40% of all medicines. But after receiving antibiotics and hormonal drugs, the need for placebos began to decrease, and their production began to decline. And the placebo method began to be considered charlatanism.

Scientific discoveries

However, some researchers continued to investigate its effect. One of them was the American anesthesiologist Henry Beecher, who in 1955 published an article in which he published the results of fifteen experiments.

Placebo effect
Picture: Microgen | Dreamstime

The scientist found that about a third of patients began to feel better after treatment with placebo drugs. Beecher’s supporters began to use pacifiers not only in the form of powders and tablets, but also as injections and external agents. With their help, they even carried out simulations of surgical operations.

Melatonin is a sleep hormone that regulates circadian rhythms
Melatonin is a sleep hormone that regulates circadian rhythms

The researchers concluded that the placebo effect has a psychophysiological basis and depends on the degree of suggestibility of the patient.

Interestingly, the placebo has the ability to replace the real drug in such a way that it sometimes causes side effects, including allergies, nausea, digestive disorders, headaches, and others. These reactions, observed in 20% of patients, are called the nocebo effect, which means “harm” in Latin.

Scope

Dummy drugs are produced by pharmacology scammers. One of the first was back in 1801 by a certain Dr. Perkins, who began selling knitting needles from an alloy with magnetic properties.
Endorphins – hormones of satisfaction and well-being
Endorphins – hormones of satisfaction and well-being

The English doctor John Haygarth created similar knitting needles from wood and began to conduct mass healing sessions for the public. It turned out that after that, four out of five patients began to feel better.

Medical professionals also sometimes resort to the placebo method. This can happen when the patient is allergic to anesthesia. In this case, the pacifier replaces this drug. So, ten patients were operated on in the city of Houston. Five of the patients had their knees replaced, and the other half had only skin incisions. An examination was carried out six months later. It turned out that all those operated on got better.

Placebo effect
Picture: Tero Vesalainen | Dreamstime

Neuroscientists have identified characteristics of people who are particularly susceptible to placebo exposure. This category of patients has increased anxiety, emotionality and dependence on the opinions of other people. Scientists have calculated that this group can include up to 35% of the total population of our planet.

With the help of brain tomography, it was possible to find out that placebo in suggestible people enhances the synthesis of opioids, which are antidepressants, anti-inflammatory and analgesic substances.

Hemoglobin in the human body
Hemoglobin in the human body

The placebo effect requires further serious research. Undoubtedly, scientists still have many remarkable discoveries to be made.

Placebo and nocebo effects

Alexei Shestakov, a clinical psychologist, hypnotherapist, specialist in working with mental trauma, specialist in the psychology of destructive cults and the psychology of influence, explains:

Placebo and nocebo effects are suggestions that affect a person’s health. Importantly, the impact can be on both mental and physical health. Only if, in the case of a placebo, the effect is rather positive.

So, for example, if someone you know has a headache, you can give him water with lemon, having previously said that this is a medicine, and there is a high probability that he will really get relief. The truth is that there is also a danger of the placebo effect, which lies in the fact that a person feeling better may refuse to visit a doctor (even if he was going to) and eventually miss the onset of a serious illness.

BCAA – branched chain amino acids
BCAA – branched chain amino acids

As for the nocebo effect, everything is exactly the opposite. Nocebo – a suggestion (conscious or unconscious), leading to a deterioration in human health. For example, if you say – every day you will feel worse and worse, or even simply – you look so painful today, then it can be damaged – if not physical, although there are also such cases when, for example, a person learning that he allegedly damage was induced – it began to fade before our eyes – then the mental health of people prone to excessive susceptibility.

In other words, suggested. The last thing to say about the difference between placebo and nocebo effects is that the placebo effect in practice is usually mediated by something, as in the example above with a headache and water with lemon, although of course it can be used directly, so the suggestion by the doctor to the patient of a positive attitude towards treatment is a special case of the placebo effect.

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