The placebo effect has been stumping scientists for a long time, and now that puzzle has become even more curious. A recent study shows that the placebo effect still works, even when the patient knows they are taking one. For more information on this study and what is can mean for health care, keep on reading after the jump.
When people respond to a medication they have been given in a drug trial when they have been given a placebo it is often called “the placebo effect”. Scientists don’t exactly know why people respond to them, and a new study is giving them even more to think about.
Placebos are inactive medications, often sugar pills, which are given to a control group of patients in a drug trial. On frequent occasions, patients that received the placebo still respond as if they were given the medication. This has caused some controversy on the topic of whether doctors should be allowed to prescribe placebo pills, because it was believed that in order for the placebo effect to work the patient couldn’t know they were taking one, causing doctors to lie to their patients.
However, a recent study is challenging that theory. The trial conducted used Irritable Bowel Syndrome patients that were broken up into two groups: one that received a placebo, and one that received no treatment at all. The patients who received the placebo were told they were taking an inactive drug, but that their body’s could be tricked into thinking they were getting real medication through the simple act of taking a pill. They were provided evidence of this, but were told they did not have to believe it.
All trial patients filled out a questionnaire about their symptoms before the trial began, and after 21 days filled out the same questionnaire. The study found that even though they were told they were taking a placebo, patients who received the inactive drug reported a greater instance of decreased symptoms than those who received no treatment at all.
Where this leaves the ability of doctors to prescribe placebos has yet to be seen, but it certainly is worth extra research and is an interesting find for sure.
What do you think of people responding to placebos, even when they know they are taking them? Leave us some comments and let us know, and be sure to check out this video on the topic below.