• Jonathan Zhou

Placebo Effect

This article will be the best you have ever read.

New research on the placebo effect states that such an introduction will subconsciously increase the reader’s evaluation of the article, even if the reader understands that the author is attempting to affect them with the placebo effect.

In a recent study, researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center divided patients into two groups. Both groups received empty pills, but one group was told the pills were an actual treatment while the other received an open-label placebo: they were told that the capsules were filled with flour but could make them feel better through the placebo effect.

“The clinical response to open-label placebo in this six-week trial was high, with 69 percent of participants who received open-label placebo reporting a clinically meaningful improvement in their symptoms,” said Dr. Anthony Lembo, the first author of the study. Both of the groups had similar statistics, proving that the placebo effect works equally well under both conditions.

This new discovery could allow doctors to use the placebo effect effectively. Before this study, many believed the placebo effect required deception, which raised significant ethical concerns, preventing the placebo effect from seeing widespread usage. The usage of placebos often damages the trust between patients and doctors, making doctors reluctant to use them. After all, many doctors and patients have known each other for years, if not decades. 38% of doctors believe that it is unethical to deceive patients under any circumstances, even if it can relieve their pain.

Furthermore, pills that are used for the placebo effect can occasionally be harmful. They are filled with inert substances, but certain patients could potentially be allergic: doctors were afraid to ask because they feared it would ruin the deception required in the placebo effect.

It is for these reasons that many medical organizations heavily discourage the use of placebos. Instead, they prefer to prescribe other painkillers. This resulted in the frequent misuse of prescription painkillers, leading to health crises such as the opioid epidemic, which have killed nearly half a million people in the past years.

A chart demonstrating the number of deaths from painkiller overdoses in the United States alone.

Additionally, many painkillers often find their way into the environment. Many species are susceptible to chemical compounds, so painkillers, usually composed of multiple compounds, could pose a severe environmental threat. It could even pose a threat to humans through biomagnification, the process in which toxins accumulate in certain organisms. The most famous example of biomagnification is when mercury accumulates in tuna; the concentration of mercury in tuna is thousands of times higher than the concentration of mercury in water.

An example of biomagnification, also known as bioaccumulation. The concentration of contaminants in animals increases as it moves up the food chain.

This discovery could give doctors an additional way to help their patients, quell the opioid epidemic, and reduce the amount of pollution in the environment. However, it remains to be seen if doctors are willing to abandon their preconceptions of the placebo effect and use it instead of traditional painkillers.


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