A placebo effect is an improvement in the symptoms of a disease or
condition when a person is treated with a drug or other treatment that he or
she expects to work, even though the treatment may not have been proved effective.
When a drug or treatment seems to work for some people but has not been
scientifically proved to be any more effective than a "sugar pill" (placebo),
it may be said to have a placebo effect. Active drugs and therapies can also have a placebo effect. It is
sometimes difficult to know if the reason a certain drug is working is
because of its active ingredient or because of the placebo effect.
The placebo effect may be the result of the brain releasing "feel
good" hormones such as endorphins in response to treatment. It may be part of
the brain's attempt to heal the body. The placebo effect does not mean that a
person's symptoms are imagined. But it does suggest that there is a strong
connection between the mind and the body.
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Karin M. Lindholm, DO - Neurology
The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.