Placebo effect: How does it help in treatment?

Many of us fall ill due to seasonal changes, intake of impure water or any other reason. Minor ailments like headache, cold could be treated with drugs from the pharmacy. Some ailments do require medical attention with a prescription of drugs given by the doctor. There is always a theory that there is a cure only when the patient believes in the doctor as well as the treatment.

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Sometimes it so happens that the medication doesn’t have any positive effect over the disease it is fighting but the patient starts to feel better after taking the medicine only because he expects to feel better if he takes ‘some’ drug. This is called placebo effect.

A placebo appears to be exactly the same as the drug itself but it actually does not contain any of the drugs. It may be just ‘sugar’ pills but the patient might not know about this. Placebo effect could be called a psychological effect.

placebo effect

Placebos are used in clinical drug trials. Normally during placebo trials, both the researchers and the patients do not know whether they were administered actual drug or a placebo. The effects are tested in such double-blind trials. Some doctors do believe that the placebos have a therapeutic effect while others don’t. For example, though antibiotics cannot cure cold, patients are prescribed antibiotics when they believe their condition becomes worse when nothing is prescribed. 

There are supporters as well as anti supporters for the use of placebos. While one group assures it does work others do not believe it does. The American Medical Association came up with a policy that doctors may use placebo if the patient is well informed about it and he agrees to it. But some say this would not work from the psychological point of view as the patient is already aware that he is actually not taking any medication.

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