You probably think you know how the placebo effect works… Someone gives you a pill or other treatment for a health condition. Unbeknownst to you, the pill is fake. It doesn’t contain any active ingredient. But you get better anyway. Your belief in the treatment is what heals you.
Now, a new groundbreaking study shows the placebo effect works even when you know you’re getting fake treatment.
Professor Ted Kaptchuk is a senior author of the research. He is director of the Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “These findings turn our understanding of the placebo effect on its head,” he said.
Professor Kaptchuk and his colleagues divided 97 patients with chronic lower back pain into two groups.
The terrible aching in your joints cut in half in just 21 days… Sleeping all night long without pain shooting through your hips as you turn in bed… Or walking downstairs without your knees throbbing.
The doctor who ran the trial said, “It was more positive than we had ever expected and the findings are incredibly exciting. It could make a huge difference towards improving patients’ lives.”
One group received stretching and physical therapy. The other received the same treatments plus a placebo tablet.
Previous research has established that placebo pills are effective against back pain. But in all the previous studies, patients thought they were getting real pain relievers. This study was different. The subjects were told the truth.
Not only did the researchers tell the placebo group they were receiving a placebo without any active ingredients, they gave each of them a 15-minute explanation of the placebo effect.1
And the pills they gave them came in a bottle clearly labeled “placebo pills.” In other words, the participants were fully aware the pills they were taking each day were fake.
After three weeks, the researchers were surprised by what they found. The group getting physical therapy without a placebo reported a 9% drop in pain. The placebo group experienced a 30% pain reduction.2
Placebo Power: Knowingly Taking Fake Pills Cuts Pain
“This new research demonstrates that the placebo effect is not necessarily elicited by patients’ conscious expectation that they are getting an active medicine, as long thought,” said Professor Kaptchuk.
Researchers say their placebo research might apply to other conditions besides pain, including chronic fatigue, digestive problems, and depression.3
“You’re never going to shrink a tumor or unclog an artery with placebo intervention,” Professor Kaptchuk said. “It’s not a cure-all. But it makes people feel better, for sure.”
If you want to try the placebo effect on yourself, you can buy placebo pills at health food stores and online.
And there are other drug-free ways to reduce pain.
Discover the ocean oil that one study found cut inflammation in half after one month… The desert herb that may replace pain prescriptions for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis… And the “magic” formula—with just three ingredients—that helped almost 70% of patients become pain-free in three months.
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