View Single Post
Old 30 January 2013, 10:22 PM
crescent crescent is offline
Join Date: 13 August 2008
Location: Right here
Posts: 2,518

Of course a placebo effect exists - without it, homeopathy and a good bit of herbal medicine* would not be around.

Some things are subjective, to a degree. My wife thinks her homeopathic pills help with motion sickness. She thinks she gets less nauseous when she takes them. Nausea, like pain, if a hard thing to quantify. So, she thinks she is less nauseous, and can enjoy travelling more. Of course, it is all in her perception and the homeopathy does nothing physical. But - she feels better.

Granted, there is no placebo effect for actual physical effects, other than the fact that there is a connection between one's mental state and immune response, as mentioned in ganzfeld's link:

Stress hormones do suppress the immune system, and it is probably true that extreme stress leaves us physically susceptible to disease for this reason.
So, deal with the stress, the immune response might perk up a bit - it's not a huge response, but it exists. A placebo that makes a person feel less stressed can have that effect - even if the effect is minimal and due only to the person's idea that the "medicine" will work.

ETA: Obviously, placebos only work if the person believes and expects them to work. That's kind of the point, really. They don't work on everyone, and only work on things that are subjective (like pain levels), or that are tied to emotional/physiological connections. The are less "effective" on the latter.

Double ETA: I don't really get the logic of the article that Ganz lined to. He seems to be arguing that there is no biological placebo effect. Does anybody really argue otherwise? The impact is emotional - any biological effects are only a response to the emotional impact of the placebo.

Last edited by crescent; 30 January 2013 at 10:30 PM.
Reply With Quote