placebo

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placebo

(pləsē`bō), inert substance given instead of a potent drugdrugs,
substances used in medicine either externally or internally for curing, alleviating, or preventing a disease or deficiency. At the turn of the century only a few medically effective substances were widely used scientifically, among them ether, morphine, digitalis,
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. Placebo medications are sometimes prescribed when a drug is not really needed or when one would not be appropriate because they make patients feel well taken care of. Placebos are also used as controls in scientific studies on the effectiveness of drugs. So-called double blind experiments, where neither the doctor nor the patient knows whether the given medication is the experimental drug or the placebo, are often done to assure unbiased, statistically reliable results. A traditional placebo's lack of side effects, however, often identifies it, so an older drug is sometimes used in drug tests instead of or in addition to a placebo.

The "placebo effect" is an apparent improvement in health due not to any treatment but only to the patient's belief that he or she will improve (as by taking a dummy pill that is thought to be a cure). A report released in 2001, however, reviewed 114 studies where use of a placebo was compared to both treatment and no treatment and found no placebo effect with respect to measurable medical conditions, such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Other reviews have found a placebo effect for pain treatments, and noted that how a placebo is administered can enhance the effect; a shot, for example, being more effective than an ointment and even more effective than a pill. An opposite, or "negative placebo effect," has been observed when patients believe their health will get worse.

placebo

[plä′chā·bō or plə′sē·bō]
(medicine)
A preparation, devoid of pharmacologic effect, given to patients for psychologic effect, or as a control in evaluating a medicinal believed to have a pharmacologic action.

placebo

1. Med an inactive substance or other sham form of therapy administered to a patient usually to compare its effects with those of a real drug or treatment, but sometimes for the psychological benefit to the patient through his believing he is receiving treatment
2. RC Church a traditional name for the vespers of the office for the dead
References in periodicals archive ?
Eight subjects who received full dose MDMA were compared to four subjects who received low dose MDMA, which served as an active placebo to facilitate blinding.
During each treatment period, patients received pills containing active placebo (lorazepam, to mimic drowsiness induced by the pain medications), gabapentin alone, morphine alone, or a combination of gabapentin and morphine.
Active placebo was used in an attempt to replicate the hypnotic quality of morphine, although two-thirds of placebo patients correctly guessed this particular treatment assignment.