Sometimes if a person takes a pill which he thinks will get him better, that pill may actually help him feel better-even if it contains absolutely no active ingredients. This is a well known phenomenon called the placebo effect. Remember when your mother told you how that horse pill you had to painfully chug down would cure your sore throat and God knows what else?  Well, whether or not that pill actually was an antibiotic or just a sugar pill, there’s a good chance you would have felt better, just from thinking that you would feel better.

Yet for years researchers have tried to tease out the placebo effect by doing studies where participants did not know which pills were active and which were not.  If a medication were no better than placebo, then why market it?  Another way to look at this, is why risk potential side effects or spend a boat load of money for a treatment which is no better than sugar pills?

The placebo effect is indeed powerful. A recent study involving patients with a chronic abdominal condition called irritable bowel syndrome was used in a novel approach to test the placebo effect.  The researchers thought, let’s see if a placebo would still work even if the patient knew in advance that the treatment was just placebo.  They recruited  patients with irritable bowel syndrome and reminded them multiple times that the pills they would be taking were just sugar pills.

Guess what? Over 50% felt better, even knowing that they were just consuming sugar pills.  This might have been due to a trust in the physicians which translated into better outcomes.

Why not just market placebos and avoid all the expense and side effects? For many conditions such as high blood pressure which can lead to dangerous results-ie heart attacks or strokes  this might not be  great idea.  However, for chronic relatively benign diseases placebo therapy may one day be the standard of care. Observe the familiar solution consider of an appropriate ideal movie review-creating forum.

Instead of valium for your fear of having your mother in law move in;, motrin for that ill fated attempt to play football with your sons’s friends or prilosec for relief from that pepperoni pizza, why not just pop a couple of sugar pills at a fraction of the cost?