"Well, let’s set the story straight: placebo analgesia is pain relief that occurs when you’re given a treatment that doesn’t have any known effect. It’s real. Changes occur in the brain, and the effect can be reversed with a drug known to block the effects of opioids. It’s not imaginary, and you’re not faking just because you respond to a placebo – we all do, pretty much."
_"What are we reacting to if it’s not an active drug?
Well, the best answer at the moment is that we put together all our past experiences, all that we know “should” happen, and all the things the person administering the placebo is telling us, and our fabulous brains get into action to produce the actual response. This is cool! It means that some of the most potent pain relievers in the world actually get produced by our brain just because someone said we should expect it."_
"Placebo responses occur alongside every treatment – not just the ones that are fake. So, when you swallow a pain reliever, you’ve learned to expect that it should work, everything you know says it should work, and lo and behold! It works! And your brain supports this action by producing its own version of the effect."
Does having a placebo mean my pain isn’t real?
Most of us know that a placebo is something like a sugar pill – it doesn’t do anything very much, and definitely doesn’t affect pain. But at the same time many of us also hear that if you respond t…