6 in 60 – Number 10: The Placebo


Hello! Although I promised something a bit different in this edition it shall have to wait til next time I promise it will be coming soon. So much mystery! Lets get on with the show shall we, this week its 60 seconds on placebo.

  1. Placebo comes from the latin placebo domino which means “I shall please the lord”.
  2. The placebo effect is defined as “a beneficial effect produced by a placebo drug or treatment, which cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient’s belief in that treatment.”
  3. John Haygarth was the first to study the placebo effect in the 18th century.
  4. Some research has stated that particular hormones can boost the effect of a placebo, particularly oxytocin.
  5. Depression is one condition that has been treated with some success using placebos.
  6. Commonly placebos are made to look like real medicine but could just be a saline solution injection or sugar pill.

Next week is halloween week on ThatBiologist so expect something spooky! (It’s really not all that spooky)

The Sources

The first comes from an interesting paper by Gensini. The second and sixth are all over the internet but heres a link to the nhs page on the placebo effect. The third is taken from this article about haygarths research by Booth. The fourth comes from an article on new scientist. The fifth comes from research completed by Khan and here is the paper.


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