The Placebo Effects

Placebos: not just a pill

If you are familiar with the word placebo you might associate it with the pill given in medical studies, but, in fact, a placebo can be a treatment or a substance. Placebos do not produce any actual effects and initiate a response known as the ‘placebo effect’. The widely used placebo is a pill, usually made of sugar, administered by scientists in a controlled experiment. This is the most common method for testing new drugs: through the use of a placebo substance. However, integrated treatments are also being studied under the lens of placebo experiments. Acupuncture is an example of a treatment that has used the placebo effect in its research studies. Acupuncture uses needles to treat chronic illnesses, but in some studies needles are placed in the wrong spots or are not placed all the way into the skin. Steven Novella, MD, at Yale University of Medicine, believes that the studies on acupuncture are heavily biased by the researchers and therefore it is mainly a placebo effect.

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