Another Layer Of Insight To The Placebo Effect – Part 1 of 3
Another Layer Of Insight To The Placebo Effect. A late study – this one involving patients with Parkinson’s disease – adds another layer of perspicaciousness to the well-known “placebo effect”. That’s the phenomenon in which people’s symptoms improve after taking an inactive substance simply because they believe the treatment will work. The small study, involving 12 people, suggests that Parkinson’s patients seem to deem better – and their brains may actually change – if they think they’re taking a costly medication. On average, patients had bigger short-term improvements in symptoms appreciate tremor and muscle stiffness when they were told they were getting the costlier of two drugs.
In reality, both “drugs” were nothing more than saline, given by injection. But the study patients were told that one drug was a new medication priced at $1500 a dose, while the other rate just $100 – though, the researchers assured them, the medications were expected to have similar effects. Yet, when patients’ movement symptoms were evaluated in the hours after receiving the counterfeit drugs, they showed greater improvements with the pricey placebo.
What’s more, MRI scans showed differences in the patients’ brain activity, depending on which placebo they’d received. None of that is to aver that the patients’ symptoms – or improvements – were “in their heads. Even a condition with objectively measured signs and symptoms can improve because of the placebo effect,” said Dr Peter LeWitt, a neurologist at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, in Michigan.