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When one door closes and another opens, it can bring a lot of promise along. Sure, you might be nervous about whatever is to come, but it's time to take stock of what you're leaving behind and then look ahead. Tally the lessons learned and think about how you can apply them to the new and exciting things to come.


Is there any truth to the placebo effect?

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Because everyone's reaction to a new drug or treatment is so different, it's nearly impossible to know whether your drug had an instant effect or if it was a placebo effect (an improvement in symptoms from the act of taking a drug independent of its biological effects).
This is why placebos are frequently employed in clinical trials to assess the efficacy of a particular medication, particularly when assessing how effectively a drug works. For example, one group receives the tested drug, while the other receives a "fake" drug, or placebo, that they mistake for the actual thing. By analyzing how both groups react, the researchers can determine if the medicine is effective. If they both have the same reaction, whether it's an improvement or not, the medicine is said to be ineffective.

Experts have decided, however, that a positive reaction to a placebo does not necessarily mean that a treatment is ineffective, but rather that another, non-pharmacological process is at work. The exact mechanism through which placebos work is yet unknown. It's likely that the placebo effect is more than just the power of positive thought. It's a complicated neurobiological reaction that encompasses anything from increased levels of feel-good neurotransmitters like endorphins and dopamine to increased activity in brain regions associated with mood, emotional reactions, and self-awareness.
When people respond to a placebo, their brain activity changes. In one study, researchers employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess the brains of people suffering from persistent knee osteoarthritis. After that, everyone was given a placebo and had their brains scanned again. The researchers discovered that those who experienced pain relief had more activity in the frontal lobe's middle frontal gyrus.

People often respond to placebos because they are unaware that they are receiving one. But what if you're aware that the medication you're taking is a placebo?

Researchers tested how patients reacted to migraine pain medicines years ago to answer this question. A migraine medicine labeled with the drug's name was given to one group, a placebo labeled "placebo" was given to another, and a third group was given nothing. According to the researchers, the placebo was shown to be half as effective as the genuine medicine at relieving pain following a migraine attack.
Beyond this reaction, the researchers suggested that the simple act of swallowing a tablet could be a driving force. The act of taking medicine is associated with a favorable healing impact. Even if people are aware that it is not medicine, the act itself might cause the brain to believe that the body is being cured.


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