Ted Kaptchuk, director of Harvard's Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter, and colleagues demonstrated that deception isn't necessary for the placebo effect to work. Eighty patients with irritable bowel syndrome, a chronic gastrointestinal disorder, were assigned either a placebo or no treatment. Patients in the placebo group got pills described to them as being made with an inert substance and showing in studies to improve symptoms via "mind-body self-healing processes." Participants were told they didn't have to believe in the placebo effect but should take the pills anyway, Dr. Kaptchuk says. After three weeks, placebo-group patients reported feelings of relief, significant reduction in some symptoms and some improvement in quality of life.
Which makes me go O.o. In some cases noted in the article, the placebo effect is powerful, too. It makes me wonder if some of the people who cope with nasty side effects from drugs might be better off with a placebo. Like, actually better off taking a sugar pill that they know is a sugar pill, rather than (a) doing nothing or (b) taking a drug with bad side effects.
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