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  • A placebo is a simulated or otherwise medically ineffectual treatment for a disease or other medical condition intended to deceive the recipient

 Placebo facts

  • A person given such an ineffectual treatment will often have a perceived or actual improvement in their condition, a phenomenon commonly called the placebo effect or placebo response
  • Several different elements contribute to the effect, and the methods of placebo administration may be as important as the administration itself
  • Placebos are an important methodological tool in medical research
  • Common placebos include inert tablets (like sugar pills), vehicle infusions, sham surgery, and other procedures based on false information
  • However, in a 2010 study, patients who knew they were receiving a placebo pill showed better improvement in condition than those who did not receive any treatment
  • It has also been shown that use of therapies about which patients are unaware is less effective than using ones that patients are informed about
  • Placebo effects are the subject of scientific research aiming to understand underlying neurobiological mechanisms of action in pain relief, immunosuppression, Parkinson's disease and depression
  • Brain imaging techniques done by Emeran Mayer, Johanna Jarco and Matt Lieberman showed that placebo can have real, measurable effects on physiological changes in the brain
  • Placebos can produce some objective physiological changes, such as changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and chemical activity in the brain, in cases involving pain, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and some symptoms of Parkinson’s
  • In other cases, like asthma, the effect is purely subjective, when the patient reports improvement despite no objective change in the underlying condition

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