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A placebo effect is an improvement in the symptoms of a disease or
condition when a person is treated with a drug or other treatment that he or
she expects to work, even though the treatment has not been proved effective.
When a drug or treatment seems to work for some people but has not been
scientifically proved to be any more effective than a "sugar pill" (placebo),
it may be said to have a placebo effect.
The placebo effect may be the result of the brain releasing "feel
good" hormones such as endorphins in response to treatment. It may be part of
the brain's attempt to heal the body. The placebo effect does not mean that a
person's symptoms are imagined. But it does suggest that there is a strong
connection between the mind and the body.
Active drugs and therapies can also have a placebo effect. It is
sometimes difficult to know if the reason a particular drug is working is
because of its active ingredient or because of the placebo effect.
October 20, 2011
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Karin M. Lindholm, DO - Neurology
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