Which treatments or illnesses are most susceptible to placebo?
July 26, 2016 1:29 PM   Subscribe

Surgery? Fungal cream & athlete's foot? Cough drops? What are the easiest ways to trick the body to heal itself? And in which domains is the placebo near-impossible? Thanks in advance!
posted by mrmanvir to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Here's a list of conditions where it has been studied with links to citations. Did you need something beyond this?
posted by jessamyn at 1:38 PM on July 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Pretty much anything to do with pain. The same level of pain is notoriously difficult to define as it is entirely subjective. Your mood and something as simple as a distraction level will change the amount of pain that you feel.
posted by koolkat at 2:10 PM on July 26, 2016 [5 favorites]

The nature of the placebo also matters. I don't have citations handy at the moment, but in a course on the psychology of pain I learned that the more expensive and complicated the placebo, the better it works (for pain at least, don't recall what conditions were studied).
posted by snorkmaiden at 2:35 PM on July 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just look at this:


Merely saying a word can decrease your pain, and there has been shown to be a greater reduction if you don't swear as much in normal conversation.
posted by koolkat at 1:25 AM on July 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


The treatment for Parkinsons - L-DOPA - also causes problematic gambling and hypersexuality.
posted by porpoise at 10:55 AM on July 27, 2016

As for near-impossible, I'd hazard cannabis research.
posted by porpoise at 10:56 AM on July 27, 2016

Apparently, the immune system.

Also, seconding chronic pain. There's a lot in modern pain science focused on top-down processing and using the mind-body connection to "trick" the body into controlling pain: CBT-based pain management techniques, phantom limb pain and mirror box therapy, re-mapping disrupted brain maps of painful body parts, central sensitization, etc.
posted by stellarc at 2:53 PM on July 29, 2016

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