Miscellaneous 4 MIN READ 349 VIEWS May 20, 2022

Interesting Facts About Placebo Effect

Written By HealthKart
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Placebo Effect
Some Important Facts About The Placebo Effect

Placebo effect in Psychology truly proves the saying ‘the mind is a powerful tool’. Sometimes doctors try healing a disease, preferably one with minor intensity without using medications to avoid possible side effects. When a person is tricked into believing that they are getting something (including health treatments), it is called the placebo effect. Placebo effect is not known to work on severe physical health disorders such as tumors or gallbladder stones. It is more likely to be effective in treatments which include the brain and the way it functions such as the perception of pain, mental health issues, or problems such as stress and fatigue. 

Placebo effect is one of the wonders of the human body which the field of science has not been able to decode properly yet. This effect involves the brain to convince the body that it is getting treated for a specific shortcoming which in turn bears positive effects or effects similar to what have been, had the patient been put on medications. 

Placebo effect often involves giving the patient sugar pills or syrup which imitate the design, how normal medications look but do not contain the actual drugs.

Some Important Facts About the Placebo Effect

There are many interesting facts associated with the placebo effect. Some of them are the following:

1. Placebo Effect is Not Restricted to Humans Exclusively

The placebo effect is not just reserved for the species of humans exclusively. Even animals respond to the placebo effect. This is more common among domesticated dogs. If your dog is refusing to eat its food, then pretend to take some food from your plate and mix it with their food, giving it a good stir. If your dog is refusing to eat because it is bored of its food and there are no other health complications involved, then this may be a great solution for your dog to take interest in its food again. Just keep your act convincing enough for your furry buddy.

2. Placebo Effect is Frequently Used in Drug Trials

In almost all drug trials, the population of participants is divided into two groups- one group gets the actual medicine and the other group gets identical looking medications in the form of pills, syrups, tonics, or injections minus the drugs and both the groups are made aware of the potential benefits of the drug. If the group getting the actual medicine and the placebo group show similar effects after the stipulated time frame, then further research is conducted for the medicine to make it more effective. Placebo effect is a standard way for drug testing and trial.

3. Antidepressants and Placebo Effect

Antidepressants come with a lot of side-effects like dizziness, heart palpitations, loss of appetite, and sudden increase in appetite. Nowadays, we find psychiatrists prescribing drugs that calm the nerves to every individual who happens to turn up at their chamber. Not all of them are actual drugs. Individuals who are feeling more under the weather than they should be according to their intensity of depression or some other mental health disorder are given sugar pills to induce a placebo effect. A large percentage of the patients show improvement through this method.

4. The Nocebo Effect

Just as the placebo effect can bring about positive changes, it is also capable of giving rise to negative changes, thus the name ‘nocebo’ effect. If two groups of people, one lactose intolerant and another lactose tolerant, are given a lactose-free food item saying that it contains lactose, it may still induce some people to suffer from diarrhea and painful abdominal cramps.

5. Placebo Effect Works Even if You are Aware

If a person under a placebo effect is made to know that the treatment they have been receiving is not legitimate, after they start to show positive effects, the effect may continue working on them for reasons unknown.

6. Alcohol and Placebo Effect

Researches conducted in the past have found that people could be convinced that they were drunk, despite drinking anything containing alcohol. Such individuals did poorly on IQ tests as opposed to how they did when they believed they were not drunk. It gave rise to poor judgment and tipsy behavior. Thus, the placebo effect works effectively for alcohol as well and can be used as a way of reducing alcohol abuse.

7. Placebo Effect Varies According to Location

If a group of individuals grow up knowing injections are more effective than oral medications as opposed to a group which swears by oral medications, then placebo effects involving injections are more likely to work for this particular group.


A placebo effect is when the brain is convinced that an individual is getting treated for a particular illness and in turn convinces the body of the same so much that it starts showing positive effects. Placebo effects work on animals as well and are often used in drug trials.

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