How Placebos Work

It's amazing that a sugar pill can sometimes "fix" an ailment. Placebos are often prescribed, and sometimes to great therapeutic effect. Sometimes the simple act of believing you're going to get better can actually make you get better. Though the placebo throws a physician's honesty into question, many patients make lasting improvements with its aid.

Recent Posts on Placebo

Doctor Prescribes a Reality Check for Homeopathy

By Guy P. Harrison on November 22, 2015 About Thinking
Homeopathic products are popular these days. What does a doctor say about them?

Stimulant Treatment of Children with ADHD and Tics

For decades a dispute has persisted about whether stimulant medications for ADHD can cause tics. A recent study seems to have resolved the issue.

Listening to Placebo, Especially in the U.S.

By Christopher Lane Ph.D. on October 23, 2015 Side Effects
Why is the placebo effect intensifying among Americans—and why now?

Generic Drugs Live Down to Expectations

By Linda Wasmer Andrews on October 20, 2015 Minding the Body
Generic drugs are the omega dogs of the pharmaceutical world. They don’t get much respect, and that could lead to reduced effectiveness and increased side effects.

Your Back or Neck Hurts—What Can You Do?

By Temma Ehrenfeld on September 12, 2015 Open Gently
When in pain, embrace the placebo that works for you.

A Magical Elixir for the Mind

The fact that science has not yet invented a true brain enhancer has not stopped people from selling magical elixirs on the TV and internet.

Mass Suggestion at 40,000 ft.

You can literally think yourself sick.

The Quicksand of Self-deception: The Nocebo Effect

The placebo effect is a well-known phenomenon. Less well-known is the nocebo effect, placebo’s “evil twin.” Can physicians cause more harm than good when they give their patients too much information about a potential medication or therapeutic treatment, including those for weight-related disorders? What are the ethical considerations involved in withholding information?

Beyond Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on July 21, 2015 How To Do Life
CBT needs to move from THE Therapy to being just one tool in the tool box.

Can Using Xanax When Flying Cause PTSD?

“We barely made it. After we landed, they closed the airport. Thank God I had my Xanax to get me through it.” Though life-threatening events happen rarely in aviation, they happen routinely in the Xanax-fueled mind of an anxious flier. Threats to one's life, whether real or imagination-based, can lead to PTSD.

An Epidemic of Questionable Care

When does “low-value care” become no-value care?

Think Twice Before Getting Knee Surgery

Accumulating evidence now proves that much of arthroscopic (keyhole) knee surgery may be unnecessary because the results are no better than placebo. This is an especially startling finding because this is the second most common surgical procedure in the world (after cataract surgery).

Mechanics of the Placebo Effect

A look at how the placebo effect works

Make Meditation a Habit to Improve Your Life

There is no doubt at all that a regular meditation practice improves health in a number of ways, but the caveat is that the practice must be regular.

Why Choose Complementary and Alternative Medicine?

Why do so many people turn to CAM when there is often little good disinterested scientific evidence that it works other than a placebo effect?

Precision Medicine’s Cultural Limits

"Everyone is different." This is the fundamental tenant of Precision Medicine: to utilize this difference to improve outcome. Real life is more complicated, and there is a lot that is not yet worked out before this approach will yield benefits.

Epigenetics and Memory

Want to increase your cognitive function? Eating the right foods can boost your brain power.

Extreme Jealousy in Relationships

Jealousy is a social convention just like monogamy.

Your Mother Was Right (Again!)

By Dennis Rosen M.D. on March 08, 2015 Sleeping Angels
A group of scientists recently confirmed that a widely-used home remedy for treating the common cold is, in fact, quite effective.

Valerian for Sleep and Weaning Off Anxiety Medications

Which herb may be the best for sleep, and also help avoid withdrawal from anti-anxiety drugs?

Should I Participate in a Clinical Trial?

If you've ever considered participating in a clinical trial, it's important to know what you can expect. This blog is designed to serve as a guide for those considering this alternative treatment option.

Self-Regulation of Creative Behaviors

Psyching yourself to be creative.

Empty Man Syndrome

By Alex Korb Ph.D. on March 01, 2015 PreFrontal Nudity
For some people depression is a hole they can't ever seem to climb out of. Often there are several factors conspiring against them.

Overcome Hopelessness Thinking and Stop Feeling Depressed

Can you think your way out of feeling depressed?

Think You Can't Get Drunk on Soda Water? Think Again.

Don't blame it on the alcohol! Blame it on your expectations about drinking.

Resolving Social Conflict Between Familiar Cats

Cats may abruptly begin fighting with a cat they have known for years. Other times, a cat may dislike a new cat from the very first introduction. Have you ever had cats that did not get along? Please share your cat’s story and how you resolved the problem of quarreling kitties.

Antidepressant Superstition

Why do people become dependent on drugs that are no more effective than sugar pills?

The Missing Link Between Psychology and Biology

By Warren W Tryon Ph.D. on February 10, 2015 The Missing Link
How does psychology influence biology? How does biology influence psychology? Read on to find an answer.

A New Drug Treatment for Binge-Eating Disorder

By Alexis Conason Psy.D. on February 04, 2015 Eating Mindfully
On January 30, 2015, the FDA approved the use of Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) to treat binge-eating disorder (BED) in adults. This is the first medication ever approved by the FDA for the treatment of BED. But before you run out to your nearest physician to get your prescription, here are some things to know.

Herbal Aphrodisiacs Excite More Than the Imagination

By Michael Castleman M.A. on February 01, 2015 All About Sex
Do traditional herbal aphrodisiacs work? Quite possibly yes.