The placebo effect is quite real, even in situations where patients know in advance that “treatment” they receive is free of any medical value, according to a study by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder United States.
American scientists have found that patients who received false analgesics continued to benefit from the placebo effect after doctors told them that those pills were not authentic, according to dailymail.co.uk.
But there is a trick. To feel those positive effects, patients should first have been conditioned to believe that the treatment was real – and enough time to pass this faith to bear fruit.
Volunteers learned that the pills were fake after one session of therapy and did not experience the pain-relieving effect. In contrast, patients who learned this after four sessions continued to feel the beneficial effects.
To test their theory, the scientists applied a heat source on the forearms of 54 volunteers – enough to make them feel strong pain sensation, but without causing skin burns.
After the heat source to the skin of volunteers generated a temperature of 47.5 degrees Celsius, the researchers applied a gel on their forearms which were said to contain an analgesic.
In reality, the gel in question was a simple petroleum jelly, along with a food dye had been placed in a container like those in pharmacies.
Then, without the volunteers realizing it, doctors have stopped the heat source, and the patients were under the impression that the treatment works.
The gel has created the illusion that they received a real analgesic, and they were asked to read instructions of a real analgesic and say if you suffer from liver disease and have recently taken any other medicines.
According to study authors, it took only four sessions of “therapy” to train the brains of patients to believe that pain mitigation receives signals using fake medicine.
The study, conducted in collaboration with researchers from the University of Maryland in Baltimore, was published in The Journal of Pain.