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What is the placebo response?

William B. Salt II., MD
Gastroenterology
Most people have heard of the placebo response and understand it to be a sugar pill or inert element that is given to people in order to test the efficacy of new drugs or in order to "treat" people who worry too much when there is really nothing wrong with them! Although treatment with placebo is not intentionally done in modern day practice, it is of interest that many times you can create a "placebo response" without the "placebo." In these cases, your belief in the doctor or caregiver acts as the placebo. You don't need to swallow a "sugar pill" to obtain the benefits of positive belief (placebo).

Howard Brody, M.D., Ph.D., and author of The Placebo Response, says, "The placebo response is a change in the body that occurs as the result of the symbolic significance which one attributes to an event or object in the healing environment." This definition expands the scope of the placebo response beyond the sugar pill and shows how "belief in something," along with a change in the symbolic meaning of an event, can have positive health benefits.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the Mind-Body Brain-Gut Connection: 8 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functiona (The Mind-Body Connection Series)

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the Mind-Body Brain-Gut Connection: 8 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functiona (The Mind-Body Connection Series)

One in five people suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, or other functional bowel disorders. As a result, irritable bowel syndrome is the second leading cause of worker absenteeism. This...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.