What Is the Placebo Effect?

Learn about the placebo response and find out how we can all benefit from it.

Posted Feb 04, 2020

Unspalsh
Source: Unspalsh

Few terms have been more misused and caused more confusion than placebo and the placebo effect.

Placebo is most commonly defined as an inert substance such as a sugar pill or an injection of salt-water or a fake treatment used in medicine. But there is another definition of placebo that is more useful in practice: a response to the context and meaning of a treatment. Using this definition, knowledge about the placebo response can be used to enhance the effects of any treatment and should be a standard part of medical practice.

Watch this video, as I describe what the placebo effect is and the benefits it brings to healing the whole person.

Modern medicine, which is so powerful in treating acute disease, is missing nearly 80 percent of what contributes to healing for patients with complex, multi-factorial, chronic disease.

Drugs do not heal these patients. The inherent healing capacity in each of us will produce most of their healing. But how do we better help patients tap into that healing capacity? Within a clinical encounter, the ritual and context of a treatment enhance healing. These underlying processes impact us independent of the theory or content of a treatment itself, as shown by the placebo research literature. Ritual and context give the treatment meaning, resulting in measurable physiological and psychological changes that enhance healing. I call this the meaning response. Expectation, especially unconscious expectation, also contributes to the meaning response.

Find out more this month as we discuss the placebo effect, its value, and the cultural influences that act upon it and our healing process. And, of course, to learn more check out my book How Healing Works: Get Well and Stay Well Using Your Hidden Power to Heal.