What is a placebo?

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the placebo effect is defined as, “…A beneficial health outcome resulting from a person’s anticipation that an intervention—pill, procedure, or injection, for example—will help them.”

What is the placebo effect?

When learning to ride a bicycle for the first time, your teacher may have said, “I’ll be holding onto the entire time! Don’t worry.” Confident that you would not fall, you pedaled forward with all the power you could muster. Only when upon reaching the end of the street did you then realize that the teacher was not holding on, and you had been riding the bicycle without any assistance! Your brain was convinced that you could achieve the task because you had assistance. You experienced a placebo effect.

How do placebos work?
The mind has a powerful effect on a body’s physiological well-being. Historically, placebos were used as a control or failure point in clinical trials. One group of patients would receive the actual drug being tested, while another would receive the placebo, or “fake” drug, as a control. The researchers would then determine the effectiveness of the trial based on the responses of the two groups.

However, in 1955, Dr. Henry Beecher published “The powerful Placebo”, revealing the positive effects of treating WWII soldiers in pain with a saline solution instead of morphine. He indicated that although the symptoms did not cease, the patients believed they felt relief after receiving the “morphine” injection because they believed they were receiving a narcotic.

The mind convinces the body that the symptoms are being treated because the patient does not know that the drug or treatment is only psychological.

What is the benefit of a placebo?

After reviewing a patient’s chart, a physician may believe that a placebo is the best way to treat a condition, while the patient still receives the indirect benefit of believing they are receiving a drug. Although a placebo cannot heal a disease, patients that have received placebo treatment have reported short-term symptom relief. This alternate form of treatment avoids adding additional drugs to the body’s system, while still treating the mental elements of the condition.

Placebo effects are not only limited to injections and pills. Alternate forms of treatment, including exercise, diet change, etc., can also be recommended with ensured “enhanced” benefits, that may serve as beneficial placebo effect and lifestyle change for a patient.

Where can I learn more?

The study of the placebo effect is on-going, as scientists are still in the early stages of discovering what the mind is truly capable of.

If you would like to learn more about how a placebo effect could work for you and possible upcoming clinical trials, click HERE! BFHC is currently seeking volunteers to participate in research studies. Those that qualify may receive study-related care and medication at no cost, have access to possible compensation.