Nocebo & Placebo: When Pills That Don’t Work Do Work

by Bob Walsh

sugar pill + belief = real effect

Placebo is when you take a pill or get a shot or other kind of medical treatment that has actually no effect on your body, because there is no active ingredient, but because you believe that the pill or shot or treatment is effective, your body actually generates a real response as if you have received a good pill or shot or treatment.

Nocebo is the opposite: when an ineffective pill can cause you harm simply because you believe it does. As Joseph Stromberg wrote for the Smithsonian.

Put simply, it is the phenomenon in which inert substances or mere suggestions of substances actually bring about negative effects in a patient or research participant. For some, being informed of a pill or procedure’s potential side effects is enough to bring on real-life symptoms.

This sounds like humbug to many. So what about the science of nocebo?

Last week, researchers from the Technical University of Munich in Germany published one of the most thorough reviews to date on the nocebo effect. Breaking down 31 empirical studies that involved the phenomenon, they examined the underlying biological mechanisms and the problems it causes for doctors and researchers in clinical practice. Their conclusion: although perplexing, the nocebo effect is surprisingly common and ought to be taken into consideration by medical professionals on an everyday basis.

The article even mentions a case where a person attempted suicide and swallowed 26 pills – not knowing that these were placebo pills that couldn’t kill him. Surprisingly, they almost did kill him – if it weren’t for the emergency treatment he received to stabilize his blood pressure.

Placebo and Nocebo are two sides of the same coin, and they can be both equally effective.

With the positive placebo hypnosis download you can put your body’s healing powers into superdrive and heal faster.