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.

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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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
In psychology, a placebo works by two explanations.
'Placebos may make you feel better, but they will not cure you.
Placebo and nocebo effects are prevalent topics in current research, especially in the domain of pain, where they can be investigated comparatively easily and serve as a model for other systems (e.g., immune, motor, and respiratory systems [1]).
One group was told the cream was a painkiller; another was told it was a placebo, but received no additional information; and a third was told the cream was inactive, but were given a short lecture about the placebo effect.
Placebos seem to have their greatest impact on the subjective symptoms of disease--pain, distress, and discouragement.
In the case of hot flashes, it appears that placebos have relatively strong effect; that has left us with many remedies that work some but not all of the time.
The word placebo represents the future of the Latin verb form placeo which means pleasing.
In most randomised, clinical trials, the therapeutic efficacy and safety of an intervention is measured against the response elicited by a placebo control.
"We don't actually know how big of a role genetics play in the placebo effect," says coauthor Kathryn Hall, a molecular biologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
* Results: The ground reaction force (GRF) tests remained largely unchanged for the dogs who were given placebos during "treatment." Of 58 dogs, five (8.6%) had GRFs that worsened over the course of treatment; seven (12%) had GRFs that improved; and 46(79.3%) had GRFs that remained unchanged.
Recent evidence shows that when placebos have salubrious effects, they engage the same neurological pathways as active medications.