The Placebo & Nocebo

During World War 2, nurses who run out of painkillers often inject injured soldiers with salt water. The “treatment” usually works and soldiers reportedly felt a lot less pain, if not for a while. Before you exclaim in blasphemy, the nurses were merely injecting a placebo effect on the soldiers. The psychological effect triggers neural response to your body, tricking it to block stress hormones which causes pain to the body. In other words, you can feel better simply by thinking that you are feeling better. Very often people who have the common flu symptoms “feel better” after a trip to the physician and a bout of antibiotics. Antibiotics do not kill viruses. But your confidence and mental strength can.

During clinical trials, a lot of results were deemed as placebo effects because people expect to be recovering, even though they were simply taking a sugar pill. Placebo, which is “I will please” in Latin has an evil twin nocebo (“I will harm”). Patients who were told that a certain procedure might “hurt a little” often almost immediately deflate their pain threshold to non existence. Researches stumbled upon an unusual findings on a group of women who believed that they were prone to heart diseases. They were four times as likely to die from mentioned risk factor than women who did not share such pessimism. In other words, your body tracks itself with your believes. Think sick, and you’ll be carted in and out of the A&E more often than you like.

Drug companies and pharmaceutical conglomerates too know about the powerful effects of placebo. Before launching a “new and improved” drug, publicity and hype makes people believe that this new breakthrough will save their lives like a miracle pill. This is the reason why some medicine loses its effectiveness after some time. Its not so much the body’s immunity, but the loss of confidence after the placebo wears out.

So the next time you get yourself “worried sick” literally, be thankful that your body is stronger than you think it really is, and that you are in control of your own life. You can live better and healthier by believing you can.

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About admin

I hail from a little red dot on the South China Sea call Singapore. Am an extroverted introvert and notorious for nothing and everything. I often suffer from logorrhea so please do not take what I say too seriously.

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