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 ?
Clinical trials of antidepressants often start with what's called a placebo lead-in phase.
But it's the imagery that makes Placebo so absorbing: a sequence of uninhabited hospital interiors that seem to liquefy and break apart into droplets before one's eyes.
Shortening a clinical trial or reducing its sample size to minimize time on placebo or numbers of people exposed to placebo does not justify a placebo-controlled trial if the participants have other treatment options and have not declined to use them.
2] That was four days shorter than the colds of 60 workers who were given a placebo.
In this investigation, dubbed the Treatment for Adolescents with Depression Study (TADS), rates of suicidal thoughts dropped in all four groups, although only the combination of Prozac and psychotherapy proved superior to placebos in this respect.
In modern medical terms a placebo has come to mean '"the psychological, physiological or psychophysiological effect of any medication or procedure given with therapeutic intent, which is independent of, or minimally related to, the pharmacological effects of the medication or to the specific effects of the procedure, and which operates through a psychological mechanism.
The next day, the experiment was repeated, with a placebo twist.
In a small group of depressed patients, those whose condition improved after taking placebo pills for 6 weeks displayed many of the same brain changes observed in people who benefited from an antidepressant drug, report psychiatrist Helen Mayberg of the University of Toronto and her coworkers.
Controversy over that claim intensified after researchers analyzed many past studies and reported in the May 24 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE that the so-called placebo effect simply reflects the waxing and waning of disease.
On average, about a third of people taking placebos in studies report a benefit.