How the placebo effect may help you

There is growing evidence that the placebo effect is at work in most successful medical therapies.


Image: © BakiBG/Thinkstock

When you were a child, your mother or grandmother might have used a home remedy that made you feel better, especially when it was delivered with a soothing hand on the forehead or a kiss on the cheek. Perhaps she assured you that a cup of warm milk would help you fall asleep, and you found that it did.

Unbeknownst to you — or her — she was probably harnessing the placebo effect, loosely defined as a favorable response to a medical intervention that doesn't have a direct physiological effect. Although you may have learned later in life that there isn't much scientific evidence to support the practice, you may still sleep better after a cup of warm milk at bedtime.

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