The Placebo Effect

You know what’s arguably worse? When a placebo is contributing to the critical endangerment of an animal that has roamed the planet for tens of millions of years – the rhinoceros.

I am fascinated by the placebo effect. If you aren’t familiar with the word, a placebo is essentially a medical treatment that doesn’t have a direct therapeutic effect on the patient. Examples are sugar pills and saline injections. Another example would be if I put a glass under my kitchen faucet, filled it with water, handed it to you and said, “Here, drink this magic water and you won’t have eye wrinkles.”

The placebo effect is when a person takes a placebo and actually gets better (or at least they report an improvement in the condition, which isn’t the same thing). Crazy, right? Like, what if your wrinkles disappeared after drinking my tap water. How cool would that be?!?!

I am fascinated because the placebo effect means the human brain has a role in the body’s physical health. Sometimes, if we think a medicine or treatment is making us better, the simple act of thinking we are healing causes the improvement. Apparently Wikipedia has a page on the brain’s role in physiological health, and if you understand even half of the words in the first paragraph, that means you are way smarter than me.

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