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Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and the Placebo Effect

As of late, scientists have been digging deeper into how the placebo effect works in tandem with your brain to release endorphins -- the body's natural painkillers -- based solely on the belief an inert pill can relieve what ails you.

Some newer findings based on placebo research:

  • Once a patient succumbs to Alzheimer's and robs the mind of expectations that a conventional painkilling drug will work, it usually doesn't work as effectively.
  • In a test using an automated morphine injection machine, patients suffering from pain felt more relief when they knew a nurse was giving it to them, even if it was a placebo.
  • When told an implant that blocked tremors was activated in their brains, Parkinson's patients moved far better than when it was turned on without telling them.

More evidence the placebo effect is a very real one, considering an inert pill lowered one's blood pressure or almost as effectively as an antidepressant.

MSNBC November 28, 2005

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