Placebo pills, also known as sugar pills, or other drugs that do not contain active drug ingredients, are mainly associated with control groups for research. The placebo effect is when a person responds to a dose of an inactive substance.
You might assume that if anything, someone who doesn’t have severe pain might be able to feel relief from placebo drugs. But could it help those with genuine and even chronic pain that needs to be managed?
The Placebo Effect
It’s a phenomenon that occurs as a result of the mind-body connection. It can happen when a person thinks they are being treated, and therefore expects that the substance they are ingesting will produce particular effects. This process can then trigger a person to believe that results are occurring, and it’s not entirely in their head contrary to common belief.
Science behind Placebo
The placebo effect can yield physical changes that come about as the brain signals to the body what to expect. Particular studies have shown that placebo pills can have a similar effect to what someone believes is going to happen.
For example, participants who were told that they were being given a stimulant experienced a spike in pulse rate and blood pressure. The same pill was given to alternate participants who were told that it was for sleeping and experienced a decline in blood pressure and pulse.
Could It Work for Pain?
Knowing whether or not a placebo could affect you is not exactly a black and white answer. But a good indication would be the power of your mind and imaginative nature. It’s not that the effects are completely imaginary as they can evoke real changes, but these changes are solely from the mind.
That said, this method may not work for everyone. For those who can benefit from it in this way, the placebo effect can cause an increase in the body’s production of endorphins, which could work as a natural pain reliever.
What Science Says
So far, studies suggest that it comes down to a person’s anatomy and psychological characteristics. Professor Apkarian of physiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine refers to it as a person whose brain is already primed to respond. He insists that if a person with the ideal traits takes a placebo, there isn’t even a need to keep it covert.
He says that this type of person’s brain will respond simply by being told to do so. With this logic, disclosing that the pill is a placebo doesn’t affect the outcome. Merely telling the participant that they will respond is enough for their brain to signal to the body that it needs to respond.
A Possible Link Between Placebo Efficiency & Emotional Intelligence
A study conducted with patients who reported chronic back pain showed that those who experienced decreased pain from the placebo pills had common characteristics in the brain.
The right side of the brain, where emotions are accessed, was more significant than the left, as well as their cortical sensory area. Also, it was reported that these individuals were more self-aware and emotionally aware of their environment and painful situations.
While research is not conclusive or diverse, there is adequate information to suggest that some individuals might be able to experience pain relief from placebo pills.