Unlocking the power of the mind

The power of the Placebo and Nocebo effect can dictate your body's healing capacity.

Placebo and nocebo responses mystify, confound, and intrigue. They are social, cultural, and psychobiological events that have the ability to significantly impact the body.

The placebo effect is related to anticipatory anxiety and relief, whereas the nocebo effect is associated with a lack of reward/positive expectation and an increase in anticipatory fear.

Although the precise mechanism by which placebos work is unknown, it is believed to involve a complex neurobiological response involving everything from increased levels of feel-good neurotransmitters such as endorphins and dopamine to increased activity in specific brain regions associated with mood, emotional reactions, and self-awareness.

What is Placebo?

The placebo effect is when an improvement of symptoms is observed, despite using a nonactive treatment.

From the Latin: I shall be attractive or acceptable—when a person feels better as a result of a drug or treatment that has no pharmacological or physiological effects, regardless of whether they are aware it is a placebo.

What is Nocebo?

The nocebo effect is occasionally referred to as the placebo effect's evil twin; it translates as "I will injure or be detrimental."

It occurs in any situation in which a patient develops side effects or symptoms that can occur because the patient believes they may occur.

Examples include adverse symptoms as a result of an inert pill or treatment, or even as a result of verbal encouragement or observation.

"Help, I've consumed all of my medicines." A 26-year-old man at the emergency room collapsed to the floor as his hands dropped an empty prescription bottle.

Mr. A, as he was referred to in his 2007 case study, regained consciousness but appeared pale-faced, sluggish, and lethargic. He told medics he ingested 29 capsules impulsively during a disagreement with his girlfriend—the pills were an experimental depression medication he was given in a research trial.

His blood pressure dropped extremely low, and his heart rate increased to a furious 110 beats per minute. He exhibited minimal improvement after four hours on an IV.

Then a physician in charge of the clinical experiment arrived. He stated that Mr. A was a member of the placebo group—patients who were randomly assigned to receive a drug that had no effect. Any symptoms he was experiencing were not due to the medications but to his imagination.

Mr. A "expressed shock and surprise, followed by nearly weeping relief." Within 15 minutes, his blood pressure returned to normal, as did his heart rate. He was back to normal.

Mr. A's hypotension appears to have been caused by the placebo overdose, according to the study. This phenomenon is often referred to as the nocebo effect. 

References

Frisaldi, E., Piedimonte, A., & Benedetti, F. . (2015). Placebo and nocebo effects: a complex interplay between psychological factors and neurochemical networks. The American journal of clinical hypnosis, 57(3), 267–284. .
Frisaldi, E., Shaibani, A., & Benedetti, F. . (2020). Understanding the mechanisms of placebo and nocebo effects. Swiss medical weekly, 150, w20340. .
Jakovljevic M. . (2014). The placebo-nocebo response: controversies and challenges from clinical and research perspective. European neuropsychopharmacology : the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 24(3), 333–341. .
Požgain, I., Požgain, Z., & Degmečić, D. . (2014). Placebo and nocebo effect: a mini-review. Psychiatria Danubina, 26(2), 100–107..
Raglin, J. Szabo, A. Lindheimer, J. Beedie, C.. (2020). Understanding placebo and nocebo effects in the context of sport: A psychological perspective. European Journal of Sport Science 20:3, pages 293-301..
Reeves, R. R., Ladner, M. E., Hart, R. H., & Burke, R. S. . (2007). Nocebo effects with antidepressant clinical drug trial placebos. . General hospital psychiatry, 29(3), 275–277. .
Winkler, A. & Hermann, C.. (2019). Placebo- and Nocebo-Effects in Cognitive Neuroenhancement: When Expectation Shapes Perception. Front. Psychiatry.

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