Thursday, January 24, 2008

Nocebo - The Opposite of Placebo


How we think and what we believe can lead us down very different roads. Our state of mind is a very powerful phenomenon.

Case in point, we all know what the Placebo Effect is - where health benefits can be produced by a "non-real" treatment.

But did you know there is a Nocebo Effect - where something that is ineffective causes ill health?

While the Placebo Effect refers to health benefits produced by a treatment that should have no effect, patients experiencing the Nocebo Effect experience the opposite. They presume the worst, health-wise, and that's just what they get.

Not much is known about how the Nocebo Effect occurs, but theories of origin include biological
and psychological factors.


For more on this, read here or this article in Science Daily .

30 comments:

Kawana Aminata Oliver said...

Good info ;-) I've always thought that your state of mind ment everything. Another great post Deb, thanks ;-)

Casdok said...

Nice to beable to put a name to it.

Scott said...

I hadn't heard that term but it makes sense. Our minds can do good or bad things for our bodies! Hey, when will the next Dr. Deb video be coming out?

heiresschild said...

this is very timely info for me Dr Deb. that's why i always try to stay positive. thanx.

Ian Lidster said...

Read the article and found it intriguing. But, if there is a placebo effect, why shouldn't there be an opposite number. If you think bad then bad will happen. Does this tie in with hypochondria, hysteria and munchausens?

Dreaming again said...

How do we, as caretakers of an elderly parent, let their doctors know they have this.

"IF YOU MENTION that this might be an issue ... in her mind, she will have the worst case of it ... and there is no changing her mind. And she almost enjoys this fact. Please please please ... give it in terms of 'probably most likely not, but to protect my butt as a doctor, I have to rule this out'

But, in the doctor's office, she seems so calm, collected and reasonable, they have no clue what I get from her after we leave.
Trying to convince her that she does not in fact have a fatal liver disease after being told she has a fatty liver (from 30 years of being overweight) has just been mindboggling. She has a stroke, and all she can focus on ...the fatty liver. ARGH!!!!!!

CrackerLilo said...

I've certainly seen that people can discourage themselves and each other from healing, but didn't know the word. Having a label is usually a really excellent start to change, I think. Thank you.

Sid said...

Very, very interesting.

Heidi said...

Wow..that is very interesting!..
I started a medication Jan 1..And I didn't want to read up about it any info because I know how my mind works. And I'll start to wonder and think to much if I'm having certain side-effects etc..

Have a great weekend Deb..Hugs~

Fallen Angels said...

The mind-body connection is mind-boggling! hehe

BossMack said...

I totally agree with this post.

M. said...

Power of suggestion is effective? This isn't news. But good to be reminded.

Mel Avila Alarilla said...

Hi Dr. Deb,
Is Nocebo effect similar to psychosomatic illnesses? I once suffered from one because I really believed that I had a dreaded disease when I was a teenager. I had to invent nonexistent events to convince the doctor that I had that disease. He prescribed me medicines but after sometime, and after the result of test came out, he changed his prescriptions. I later found out from the pharmacist that what he later prescribed to me was tranquilizer. I stopped seeing the doctor and realized that my sickness was just a figment of my fertile imagination. I just grew out of it and kicked it out of my life forever. Thanks for the informative post. God bless you and your family always.

Barbara said...

This is fascinating, I had never heard this term but have not doubt its a legitimate problem.

S'onnie said...

I am a firm believer in ill health is sometimes caused by the way you think, people who focus on their illnesses and all the possible negative stuf see it every day. I think particulary with mental health if you focus on the depressive side of it then you can get caught up in a web of despair while if you are around people who don't focus on it but acknoweldge it you can move past it. If that makes any sense

SeaSpray said...

There is power in thought processes and spoken words.

kath said...

Just popped in to say hello...
found the usual interesting post to welcome me !

Take care...

dragonflyfilly said...

Hey there Dr. Deb. "mind over matter" ...this makes me chuckle every time I hear this. When I was 16 and so full of myself, I remember telling my mom when she was sick, that it was just a case of mind over matter. She used to get furious with me:- she was going through meno-pause!

HAH HAH HAH, sorry, but I still find it quite funny...because now that I am going through it myself, no matter how much I try I still cannot stop those dreaded "unseasonal heatwaves", by just wishing them away...you gotta see the humour in this eh?

BUT, having said that, I DO believe that I CAN heal myself in certain areas, just by willing myself well.

great post here Deb, thanks!
cheers for now,
pj

The Lone Beader said...

"How we think and what we believe can lead us down very different roads."

This is so true.

Godwhacker said...

Cutting edge as ever Dr. Deb... I didn't know the name of this phenomenon but I always suspected its existence. I think it has to do with the chemicals our thoughts release.

Laughter is the best medicine... especially with today's pharmaceutical copays!

IntelligentLayPerson said...

I'm still reading the info.

I'm stumped because usually I have an opinion on things like this, but I do not have one yet.

I have to read more about it.

Regardless of any skepticism it is still an interesting topic.

Mary said...

The mind is a very powerful thing. Interesting stuff as usual.

It has been a while.

Mary

Barbara K. said...

More proof that the neck is not an impenetrable barrier between the mind and body.

STAG said...

Isn't a nocebo the case where if you DONT get the placebo,but get the medicine instead, you get sick?

As opposed to the the case where if you don't get the placebo, but get the medicine instead, you stay sick.

Or is this the case where if you DONT get the the placebo,but got the medicine, you get well? Oh, wait, that's supposed to happen.


Hmmmm,I'm so confused...........

I think I'll just up the dosage.

~Deb said...

Isn't it a fact that we only use 10% of our minds? What's the other 90% doing? Maybe that's just the reason why we should try tapping into that other 90%.

Deb said...

Hey Kawana,
Studies are showing us that some people may be hardwired for negative thinking patterns. Interesting, right?

Dear Casdok,
You say To-may-to and I say Tom-ah-to.

Dear SCott,
Will wrok on a new video soon.

Dear Heiress,
I try to stay positive too. I can be influenced by negative things...so I try not to get tainted by the bad stuff.

Dear Ian,
Yes, I do think there is a strong tie in to hypochondria, hysteria and conversion disorders, but not to the factitious disorders.

Dear Dreaming,
I talk to the doctor BEFORE they consult with an elderly loved one -or any family member who may be suspectible to such influence. It is so important to think positive.

Dear Cracker,
Labes can be good, for some things.

Dear Sid,
I never read the negative side effects of a med- that is until I feel out of sorts. Then I know it is a real side effect and not something I am creating perchance.

Dear Heidi,
Yup me too. See the comment above.

Dear FAllen,
Indeed that is SO true.

Dear Bossmack,
Thanks for visiting. I'm gonna come by and visit you as well.

Dear M.
Suggestion can be influenced negatively or positively. I don't think many know that.

Dear Mel,
So glad that you are feeling better and can trust your own instincts now.

Dear Barbara,
I have read where a person who believed a snake was poisonous, when it really wasn't, actually died from the bite.

Dear S'Onnie,
I share those same thoughts.

Dear Sea,
There is something to be said about looking thru rose colored glasses.

Dear Kath,
I try to keep this blog full of fun, interesting and compelling posts. So glad you enjoyed this one.

Dear Dragon.
I hear you with the hot flashes! We do have some power in healing, but not completely so. If that were true, everyone who was ill could heal themselves. But, it is important to keep a positive outlook on things. Thinking negatively or believeing in the worst can make things self-fulfulling.

Dear Lone,
I also think that "If we can see it, we can be it". Imagining things can help make dreams come true a la postive thinking.

Dear GW,
I only know of the term because of the research reading I sometimes do. Otherwise, I'd not know it either.

Dear Intelligent,
Something being speechless is a good thing ;)

Dear MAry,
Hi, pal. So glad to see you here.

Dear Barbara,
YOu are SO witty. I love that!

Dear Stag,
It's if you get the placebo, but bad things begin to happen as a result it is then called a nocebo effect. Think of the example of being bitten by a snake that isn't poisonous, but you think it's poisonous. Then you die as a result of the misinformed belief. Does that help? You are so witty too, btw!

dear ~Deb,
I know that "they" say we use a small portion of our brain, but I really don't know what that means. I think our brains are always fully working, like at the highest percentage available, but we don't know WHAT the brain functions really do. Does that make sense?

~Deb

Marj aka Thriver said...

I think expectations is key.

jumpinginpuddles said...

we hate being sick so when we are we say get up get better get on with life, doesnt always work but has sometimes.

therapydoc said...

It's all about hypnosis, right? I tell myself this will be bad, and it will.

Awake In Rochester said...

I've heard of the concept, but never heard of the term.