Placebo: better thanks to fake medication

You will be fooled where you stand. The doctor who prescribes a placebo. Of course you do not know this and you swallow 3 pills every day. Yes, the complaints disappear! What is a placebo and how does it work when it is fake? Can a doctor actually prescribe a placebo?

What is a placebo?

The word placebo comes from the Latin meaning 'I will please'. Placebos are not alone pills but also treatments and therapies . There are no active substances in a placebo or the treatments that are performed do not work for what they are actually intended for. In terms of taste and color, the drugs are similar to real drugs, so you do not know at all whether you have been prescribed a placebo.

How does a placebo work?

The effect of the placebo is not due to the effect of the pill, the treatment or therapy, since these are fake. There are several factors under which the influence of a placebo works, patient belief, attention doctor , a positive attitude, positive expectations of the drug, the prospects that are good, the way the medicine is presented, etc. Some people are more sensitive to placebo than others. They work best with open minded people. It can be compared to a hypnosis, some people we can and others cannot be hypnotized because they are not 'open' to it.

Can a placebo be?

Only a doctor may prescribe medication to a patient. In the Dutch doctor oath state that the doctor must inform the patient as well as possible. If a doctor prescribes a placebo, the patient does not know this himself because it also includes a fake leaflet. The doctor will not tell the patient that it is a placebo because then the entire effect is gone. The doctor is actually fooling the patient and that shouldn't be allowed? Yet it happens that doctors in the Netherlands prescribe a patient a placebo about 1000 times a year. Prescribing a placebo is therefore an ethical dilemma, it is not prohibited. It is understandable somewhere that a doctor prescribes a placebo, because what do you do with a patient who keeps coming back again and again with the same innocent but still annoying complaints. But imagine that the doctor has a patient who is really severely depressed and prescribes a placebo instead of a real anti-depressant and the patient then jumps for the train.

Why a placebo anyway?

As mentioned before, it can be because someone keeps coming with vague complaints. A placebo can also be very useful for new ones to investigate to medicines. A placebo can be used with the "clinical trial." In a clinical trial, a group of test subjects are prescribed medication. One half receives the working medicine that is tested and the other half receives a placebo. In this way it can be tested whether the medicine actually works. Because the influence of the enthusiastic doctor can also contribute to the effect that the medicine has, testing takes place "double blind" . The test subjects but also the treatment staff do not know who will receive the medicine and who will receive the placebo. They do know that there is a 50% chance that they can receive a placebo.

Video: The power of the placebo effect - Emma Bryce (February 2020).

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