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Placebo Effect

The Placebo Effect is a complicated theory

Sugar pills, injections of nothing — studies show that, more often than you’d expect, placebos really work. At TEDMED, magician Eric Mead does a trick to prove that, even when you know something's not real, you can still react as powerfully as if it is.   (Recorded at TEDMED, October 2009 in San Diego, CA. Duration: 9:06)


MIT Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely discusses his work in studying the medical effectiveness of placebos and outlines his findings, which bear implications on human behavior as a whole. Drawing on specific examples from his own experiment, Dan Ariely explains how the placebo effect extends beyond the mere medical affects as the information they revealed to study participants further effected the experience of the situation, meaning that our expectations play a large role in all of our experiences. 

In the spirit of Pavlovian conditioning, the brain secretes a natural painkiller similar to morphine once the person accepts that they have taken a pain relief medication and that the pain will subside. Similarly, when Dan Ariely gave study participants beer with balsamic vinegar in it without telling them, they favored it over regular beer, while they hated it when they knew there was balsamic vinegar in it before they drank it.

MIT Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely discusses the medical effectiveness of placebos, and outlines how expectations of a given situation will affect our experiences of that situation.


Dan Airely talks about "Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions."

Why do our headaches persist after taking a one-cent aspirin but disappear when we take a 50-cent aspirin? Why do we splurge on a lavish meal but cut coupons to save twenty-five cents on a can of soup? We think we're making smart, rational choices. But are we?

In a series of illuminating, often surprising experiments, MIT behavioral economist Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. Blending everyday experience with groundbreaking research, Ariely explains how expectations, emotions, social norms, and other invisible, seemingly illogical forces skew our reasoning abilities. Predictably Irrational will change the way we interact with the world - one small decision at a time - Cody's Books

Dan Ariely is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Behavioral Economics at MIT, where he holds a joint appointment between MIT's Media Laboratory and the Sloan School of Management. His work has been featured in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Scientific American, and Science.



Do you want to watch the full hour? Here it is.
Predictably Irrational is one of my favorite books ever.

Dan Ariely: Predictably Irrational from Cody's Books on


September 19, 2013 Science Daily |  "Placebo and the New Physiology of the Doctor-Patient Relationship," published inPhysiological Reviews. The effort, undertaken by physician-researcher Fabrizio Benedetti of the Department of Neuroscience, University of Turin Medical School, and National Institute of Neuroscience, Turin, Italy, provides an in-depth biological and evolutionary approach to examining the placebo effect in relationship to the doctor-patient relationship.

  • This new discipline acknowledges that placebos and placebo responses with their wide range of physiological responses involving numerous mechanisms across a number of conditions, systems, and interventions represent an active field of neurobiological research. With that, Dr. Benedetti, using biochemical, cellular and physiological tools, aptly summarizes research new findings on describing the placebo effect on psychology and biology and their impact on the doctor-patient relationship.

Dr Vithoulkas Responds To April 2013 Article Concerning Placebo Effect

The “death” of the “placebo myth” in Ηomeopathy

Prof. Vithoulkas’ response to an article in the International Journal of Clinical Practice that claimed that homeopathic treatment has side effects.
To the Editor: International Journal of Clinical Practice
I wish to comment on the paper “Adverse effects of homeopathy: a systematic review of published case reports and case series” by Posadzki et al.”1 The efficacy of homeopathy has always being denied with the argument that the remedies were
inactive and therefore the curative results were due to placebo effect. In this study becomes apparent that there is actually a strong biological effect upon the human organism, something that was maintained all along by homeopaths (initial aggravation in serious diseases, proving symptoms etc.).
The well researched article by Posadzki et al giving evidence of the adverse effects of homeopathic remedies upon the human organisms, proves clearly that this fact cannot be denied any more. This was previously denied by many sceptics and allied scientists 2 between them Prof. Ernst who signs this study and who, for many years, has denied the efficacy of homeopathy 3

I believe that this paper is a good starting point for discussions between the two approaches: homeopathy and conventional medicine in order to be discovered each other’s strengths and  weaknesses.
1 Posadzki P, Alotaibi A, Ernst E, Adverse effects of homeopathy: a systematic review of published case reports and case
series. Int J Clin Pract. 2012 Dec;66(12):1178-88.
2 Sehon S, Stanley D, Evidence and simplicity: why we should reject homeopathy. J Eval Clin Pract. 2010 Apr;16(2):276-81 and Shang A, Huwiler-Müntener K, Nartey L, Juni P, Dorig S, Sterne JA, et al. Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo
effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homoeopathy and allopathy. Lancet. 2005;366:726–32.

3 Ernst E, Homeopathy in severe sepsis. Homeopathy. 2011 Jul;100(3):195; author reply 196-7 and  Ernst E, Homeopathy, non-specific effects and good medicine. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2011 Jun;50(6):1007-8

The Journal denied to publish this response.



The Placebo Effect | Does This Explain Homeopathy?

Evidence Check Concludes Homeopathy is Placebo
Bernie Simon ~ Placebo Power
Pets and Placebo
John Benneth Video
Debasish ~ It's Placebo
Big Pharma Advertises to America
Evidence for Homoeopathy
Kaviraj - The Placebo Fallacy
Dispelling Myths around Homeopathy
Kaviraj - No Evidence in Evidence-Based
Bernie Simon ~ Homeopathy Works!
Bernie Simon ~ How the Game is Played
Webster's Definition of Placebo
Point of View of the Patients
Placebo- Historical Background and its Role in Medicine


Placebo Effect: Big Trouble for Pharmaceutical Stocks | Mind over matter. Dr Kirsch's findings should turn the medical world upside-down. If it does not matter what pill is given and why are these medicines being given and cost so much? The patient can save their money instead of purchasing expensive pills, while getting better with talk therapy, exercise, sleep therapy, breathing therapy, better nutrition, massage and other treatments.

Between 1995 and 2002 the CDC reports the use of anti-depressants rose 48 percent. Considering the potential side effects, use of placebo would be much safer. Serotonin drugs, meant to uplift mood, is also used in other body processes such as, digestion, forming blood clots at wound sites, reproduction and development. Negative health effects can result in developmental problems in infants, reduced libido and sperm development in adults, digestive problems such as diarrhea, constipation, indigestion and bloating, abnormal bleeding and stroke in the elderly, which include premature death. What's the true price?

Psychiatrists and drug companies say the drugs work, but they don't realize it's not because of the chemicals, but rather due to the white coat, the ritual and the placebo effect. However, continued use of drugs can result in side effects, as noted above. Isn't it important to help people solve real world problems, find jobs and help people improve their self esteem, improve relationships in families and with co-workers? Drugs will not be the answer for those who have recently experienced a loss, a death in the family or a trauma. They need real compassion and care.



Pregnant Canadian women sue over placebos in birth control pills

A group of pregnant Canadian women launched a class-action lawsuit Friday against the maker of a recalled birth control pill after it was discovered the packages contained mostly placebos. The lawsuit over 45 unwanted pregnancies and four abortions seeks $778.8 million against pharmaceutical firm Apotex, the maker of the birth control pill Alysena. “When they first got the news that they were pregnant they were shocked, stressed out and very worried,” lawyer Sandy Zaitzeff said of his clients.



Half Of A Drug's Power Comes From Thinking It Will Work | When you take a pill, you and your doctor hope it will work — and that helps it work

One Scholar's Take On The Placebo Effect | A placebo can take the form of a sugar pill or even a fake surgery. It's often used to test the effectiveness of a trial drug. Ted Kaptchuk, director of Harvard University's Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter, discusses potential applications for the healing power of placebos. Placebo's work EVEN if they are in on the secret that it is a sham treatment!

Migraine Study Reveals The Power Of Placebo | Researchers studying migraine sufferers found that positive and negative expectations could influence the effectiveness of medications and placebos. Study co-author Ted Kaptchuk discusses the findings and the implications for how doctors approach prescribing medications.  Ted Kaptchuk Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Director of the Program in Placebo Studies, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Boston, Massachusetts

March 2014 | A new study indicates that people get better results from taking expensive pills — even when the "expensive pill" is a placebo with no active medical ingredients. 

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