The Placebo Effect: Think Positive!

placebo effect think positive

What we say matters. Even in our own internal dialogues that we have with ourselves. Do you know the difference between a placebo and a nocebo? Placebo is easy, we’ve all heard that word. It’s when a substance or action yields beneficial health related outcomes despite the absence of medicinal properties. The age old sugar pill routine. Studies on placebos are illuminating: placebos create positive effects in conditions ranging from depression, pain, sleep disorders, menopause and irritable bowel syndrome. Placebos have also been shown to dilate bronchi, heal ulcers, and even make bald men think they can grow hair! In general, the placebo effect encourages clear cut positive shifts between 18-80% of the time!! The mere suggestion of a positive outcome causes the body to produce the chemicals needed to generate change. So, what we tell ourselves matters. See?

So, the opposite is also true. Through interactions called the nocebo effect, people given a harmless substance or treatment, but informed of negative side effects will experience unpleasant symptoms. MRI’s have revealed that pain is more intense in patients who expect pain than in those who don’t. In fact, in one study, poor expectations were shown to have overridden the strongest of opioids, and that positive expectations can double the biochemical effect of the same opioids.

Think about the two sided mind body connection: placebo and nocebo. How does this relate to massage? My attitudes toward my clients can influence the outcome. If I don’t think I can help them, and then let them know that, they are likely to not be helped. The more faith I hold in a client’s progress, the more likely they are to progress. AND the above two statements are true of the client. What we hold to be true, even internally matters a lot!

Of course, we’re only human. It’s pretty difficult to monitor and control our negative perceptions. It is said that we need 3 positives to outweigh 1 negative. So, when we find a negative recurring thought pattern, simply repeat the positive version 3x. Over time, this type of reframing has been show to work time and time again! Did you notice how cleverly I worked “What we say matters” into this blog 3x? Okay, well, now its actually 4x. 🙂 Enough for today!

Enjoy this snowy weather! If all the shoveling and frigid temperatures gets you down, give me a call (518) 744-2315 to book a massage to heal those winter aches and pains!

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