How poweful can placebo, and nocebo can effect your body?

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How poweful can placebo, and nocebo can effect your body?

In: Biology

Not very.

Placebo is mostly about reporting error. Your body is experiencing the exact same sensations, you just think you should be feeling better, and report accordingly. Note this works the same way when it doesn’t involve your body. If you think your computer is slow and I tell you I spend an hour fixing it, you are likely to report it running faster, even if I did nothing at all.

In the few cases there is an actual effect, it is usually related to stress. You think the placebo is working on your high blood pressure, so you worry about it less, and your blood pressure goes down.

I think the “not very” answer is a bit dismissive of the placebo effect. It can be quite powerful so everything has to be controlled in studies quite carefully. E.g. know that two placebo pills a day get rid of stomach ulcers faster than one placebo fill a day – that’s not a reporting error as we can see that.