Evidence is mounting that placebos (fake treatments) have an actual biological effect in the body, say international experts who conducted a review of the latest research.
The review authors said things such as the expectation of recovery and the doctor-patient relationship may sometimes trigger changes in a patient's brain, body and behaviour, the Associated Press reported.
For example, some studies found that giving dummy pills to Parkinson's disease patients caused their brains to release the feel-good chemical dopamine. They also showed other changes in brain activity.
The review appears in The Lancet.
"When you think youre going to get a drug that helps, your brain reacts as if its getting relief," Walter Brown, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Brown University School of Medicine and Tufts University School of Medicine, told the AP. "But we dont know how that thought that youre going to get better actually translates into something happening in the brain." - (HealthDay News, February 2010)