A placebo is a substance or treatment of no intended therapeutic value. Common placebos include inert tablets (like sugar pills), inert injections (like saline), sham surgery, and other procedures. The word “placebo”, Latin for “I will please”, dates back to a Latin translation of the Bible by St Jerome. The American Society of Pain Management Nursing define a placebo as “any sham medication or procedure designed to be void of any known therapeutic value”.
In drug testing and medical research, a placebo can be made to resemble an active medication or therapy so that it functions as a control; this is to prevent the recipient(s) or others from knowing (with their consent) whether a treatment is active or inactive, as expectations about efficacy can influence results.
In other words, a placebo is designed to fool patients in their belief system.
In a clinical trial any change in the placebo arm is known as the placebo response, and the difference between this and the result of no treatment is the placebo effect.
A placebo may be given to a person in a clinical context in order to deceive the recipient into thinking that it is an active treatment. The use of placebos as treatment in clinical medicine is ethically problematic as it introduces deception and dishonesty into the doctor–patient relationship. Placebos have no impact on disease itself; they can only affect the person’s perception of their own condition.
However, as teaches psychosomatic and holistic medicines, a huge part of disease emergence is based on perception and emotions, if only because it is in a state of happiness where the body’s repair system gets activated. By Happiness, I mean being in a state of parasympathetic dominance, thanks to which the “rest-digest-repair” mechanisms can be activated.
Historically, an influential 1955 study entitled The Powerful Placebo established the idea that placebo effects were clinically important, and were a result of the brain’s role in physical health, but a 1997 review of the study by conventional medicine experts found “no evidence […] of any placebo effect in any of the studies cited”. Subsequent conventional research has found that placebos are not a useful means of therapy.
See additional evidence in the Institute’s workshops, online training or consider scheduling a coaching session.
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