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Author Topic: Does a placebo still work if a person knows they are using it?  (Read 3223 times)

Offline annie123

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Has anyone heard of/done research on the placebo effect where someone  knows they are taking a placebo but the pill still works? I took a sleeping pills sublingually a couple of times - several days apart - but thought that I didn't want to get dependent on them. So, the next time i needed one I put my finger under my tongue and made it feel as if the pill were there and then shut my eyes etc. I was asleep within a very short time. I have done this several times and it is as if I am split into two - one part of me watching and knowing as I do this, and the other part completely taken in and responsive to what it thinks is a pill. Why does this work? I wonder if it would work with other drugs.
« Last Edit: 11/09/2008 23:19:38 by chris »


 

Offline stevewillie

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The placebo effect is not really an effect in the scientific sense because the cause is unknown. You can't talk about an effect if you don't have a putative cause. All you can say is you have condition or state whose cause is unknown. The explanation that it's psychological is no explanation at all. The brain does produce chemicals called endorphins which can blunt acute pain sensations and produce a sense of well being, but in your case it may the so called "power of suggestion" which may be related to stimulus-response conditioning. In any case, if you can achieve the result you want without chemicals, consider it a gift. As far as sresearch regarding "effects" where the subject knows she or he is taking a placebo, I'm not aware of any. I've been involved in clinical trials before I retired but this question never came up.
« Last Edit: 08/09/2008 08:08:39 by stevewillie »
 

Offline annie123

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I want to post a new message here because it directly relates to the question. When I asked it some years ago there was no answer as far as I, or any of you apparently,  knew. This year I read an article in The Guardian( (07/01/11) reporting the work of Prof. Ted Kaptchuck of Harvard Med. School's Osher research unit in which he investigated this very question. It turned out that the placebos were more effective than no treatment, and the patients taking plecebos knowingly (placebo was even printed no hte bottles of pills) 'doubled their rate of improvement to that acheived with the most powerful IBS medications'
This interested me very much because I had found that the placebo worked for me re sleeping pills and didn't know if this were true for others. I have tried to contact Prof. Kaptchuck to tell him about my experience two years before his experiment but so far havent been able to get a contact address. I e mailed the 'contact us' person on he harvard med. site but have no reply. how does one get in touch with these people?
 

Offline Bored chemist

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I don't know how to contact the guy, but I can answer the original question.
As far as I'm concerned, for cough medications, the placebo effect works quite well.
I know they are no better than a placebo- the report is in the literature and I have read and understood it. But I still use a particular brand, with my choice based on the "active ingredient"  because I find it works best.
I know it's the placebo effect, but I don't care. It still works.
 

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