The Importance of Using Placebos in Clinical Trials

Many people have heard the word placebo. However, few might realize the important role these products play in the scientific world. At Altus Research, we are a private South Florida-based company overseeing various clinical trials, we deal with placebos all of the time and want to showcase the importance of these products. 

Placebo Overview

A placebo is defined as a substance, typically presented in pill form, that has no established medicinal capabilities but may induce certain psychological benefits. For example, the notion of ingesting a substance believed to be medicinal might produce a feeling of wellness and those ingesting the product in question may notice an improvement in symptoms associated with the specific illness. Placebos can be given to help patients see if they have a medical problem or are just physiologically having symptoms. 

A Placebo’s Place In Science

Typically, placebos are employed to help physicians and scientific researchers complete various trials and experiments. Events like clinical trials are usually broken down into two groups, the differentiation receiving the placebo and a teaming of those being administered the drug or substance being tested.

In most cases, none of the experimental participants will know if they are being given the actual drug or the placebo. Researchers utilize said trials as a means of measuring the efficacy of new drugs and gauging the type of side effects the preparations might produce. It is important to have the two groups so that the results are nonbiased. 

The Placebo Effect

As previously stated, certain individuals administered placebos experienced a psychological phenomenon known as the placebo effect. The impact of ingesting a “substance” can seem so real to the individual receiving it that they experience symptom improvement. Researchers have found that this response has occurred when conducting trials involving ailments like depression, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, and various pain disorders. On the flip side, those who ingest placebos might also experience “side effects.”

The Genesis Of The Placebo Effect

Researchers opine that the effect is precipitated by an individual’s expectations. When people ingest pills or are administered any other type of what they perceive to be medication, said subjects expect to feel better. Said medical professionals claim that this occurrence is an example of just how strong the mind-body relationship can be. In the individual’s mind, the body is receiving a therapeutic agent. Such action might precipitate an alteration in body chemistry that can mimic some of the influences actual medication may have.

Important Considerations

As strong an influence as placebos might have on certain subjects, in others the opposing effects may be witnessed. In those reluctant to take medications or who fear drugs, placebos might precipitate discernibly negative impacts. For example, study subjects administered sleep-inducing products could experience insomnia. Psychological and medical experts opine that the ultimate result often depends upon the person’s internal feelings. Should one believe positive results will be yielded, symptom improvement often occurs. In those who share negative viewpoints, they might experience detrimental or opposing results.

If you are interested in learning more about clinical trials, please contact Altus Research today. 

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