Value of Placebo Effect

by: Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Mind-Body-Spirit News

Understanding the biological basis for the placebo effect may help medical professionals maximize people’s health, suggests Barry S. Oken, MD, a professor in the department of neurology at Oregon Health & Science University. Oken’s review of placebo-effect research appeared earlier this year in the journal Brain (2008;doi:10.1093/ brain/awn116).

The placebo effect refers to a “physiological state anticipating and contributing to the occurrence of some future health-related outcome through learning, conditioning or other related process,” according to Oken. Patient expectations have an influence on results, regardless of the sources for these expectations. A placebo can be any clinical intervention—words, gestures, pills, devices, even surgery.

Some studies show that administration of a placebo activates certain brain regions. Oken recommends improving clinical trial design to better elicit and isolate placebo-effect responses. With a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms that produce these results, he proposes, healthcare providers may be better able to proactively utilize methods that achieve these beneficial effects.

IDEA Fitness Journal , Volume 5, Issue 10

© 2008 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in L...

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