Health & Fitness

Power of Placebo: 50% for medications

Kristen Sparrow • January 14, 2014

What's better: the placebo you think is medicine, or the medicine you think is placebo?The issue of the placebo effect is incredibly important to the acupuncture community.  It should be of greater importance to the Medical Community, both for drugs and surgeries.

When you take a pill, you and your doctor hope it will work — and that helps it work.
That’s not a new idea. But now researchers say they know just how much of a drug’s effect comes from the patient’s expectation: at least half.
When patients in the midst of a migraine attack took a dummy pill they thought was a widely used migraine drug, it reduced their pain roughly as much as when they took the real drug thinking it was a placebo.
“There was no difference between the pharmacology of the drug in reducing pain and the placebo dressed up with a nice word,” study author tells Shots. “Basically we show that words can actually double the effect of a drug. That’s pretty impressive.”
And if it works when treating , it also might work for a wide variety of other ailments, from asthma to intestinal cramps to back pain, that involve the subjective experience of symptoms.
The , in this week’s Science Translational Medicine, have interesting implications for doctors and patients, because what physicians say about a medication appears to have a lot to do with its benefits.