Studies of the “placebo effect” show that more than a third of all patients will feel better if given medicines with no active ingredients.
In a 1955 study of more than 1,000 patients, the condition of 35% was improved by administering a placebo.
In another study, researchers gave sugar pills to a large group of college students and told them that half would be getting sleep aids and the other half, mild stimulants.
Of the students, only two reported no change in their sleep patterns; the rest claimed that they felt either a pronounced stimulant or narcotic effect.
Why do placebos work?
It’s not completely understood, but one theory is that the patient’s faith in a medical treatment may release brain chemicals called endorphins, the body’s natural opiates, which relax the body and help it to heal.