How research is proving the true healing power of the placebo

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 9_Fotor


“I met a transplant patient who drank green, lavender-flavoured milk to suppress immune rejection of his donated kidney. That sounds crazy, but it was part of a trial investigating how we can train our immune systems to respond to sensory cues such as taste or smell. This works through classical conditioning, where we learn to associate a psychological cue with a physiological response (such as when Pavlov’s dogs learned to salivate in response to the sound of a buzzer). Similarly, if you take several doses of a drug that suppresses the immune system, subsequently taking a placebo triggers an identical response, even though it contains no active drug – and regardless of whether you know it’s a placebo. In this trial, researchers used the distinctive green drink to strengthen the learned association and maximise the response. They hope reducing drug doses with placebos in this way could cut side effects for patients with organ transplants, autoimmune disease and cancer.” – The Gardian


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