Placebos: Tricking the Brain, Targeting the Body

Author: Shweta Ramdas
Editors: Charles Lu, Whit Froehlich, and Scott Barolo

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 2.16.39 PM
Placebo or Nocebo?

Last year, when I pooh-poohed my mother’s alternative medicine regimen, she said, “But these actually work well for me, because I believe in them!” My mother had just outsmarted me with science.

The placebo effect is one of the most remarkable yet least understood phenomena in science. It is a favorable response of our body to a medically neutral treatment (sugar pills, anybody?): in other words, a placebo is a fake treatment that produces a very real response. This is attributed to a physical reaction stemming from a psychological response to the administration of therapy. You could say that a patient sometimes gets better anyway—how many times have we waited out the common cold—and you would be right. This natural return to the baseline which can happen is not considered the placebo effect, which is an improvement in response to a treatment.

Continue reading “Placebos: Tricking the Brain, Targeting the Body”

Don’t sweat the small stuff: Exercise is Medicine® for stress relief

By Alison Ludzki

April is Stress Awareness Month

April is a natural fit for Stress Awareness Month, playing host to inevitable final exams and tax season. But is there a way to avoid the stress that comes along with them?

Stress means different things to different people, making it hard to define. Most importantly, stress is a hormonal response to danger. However, stress can also occur in response to not-so-dangerous occasions in our day-to-day lives, including routine events like work, family interactions, and other daily responsibilities. When these stressors are ongoing, they can have physical and mental health consequences. Continue reading “Don’t sweat the small stuff: Exercise is Medicine® for stress relief”