Tag Archives: placebo

People have individual traits that predispose them to be more or less responsive to certain stimuli; the interaction between the learned associations of the clinical situation and the person’s particular biology produces a response. The response could be a basic physiological process such as modulation of sensory processing, release of neurotransmitters or alterations in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis or immune system activity. The placebo response could also be some more complex physiological process including change in mood, change in motivation/effort or cognitive set-shifting.

The placebo can be any clinical intervention including words, gestures, pills, devices and surgery (Chaput de Saintonge and Herxheimer, 1994)

“Much of a drug response is related to nonspecific factors. Perceptual characteristics of drug preparations likely play a major role in expectancy and response. This study focused on perceptual characteristics of a preparation related to anticipated effect: capsule color, capsule size, and preparation form (capsule versus tablet). College students ranked capsules for perceived strength based on capsule size, categorized capsules in terms of anticipated pharmacological effect based on color, and evaluated strength based on preparation form. Data showed nonchance distributions for nine capsule colors in anticipated action, with specific effects for four colors. A significant difference between capsule and tablet for perceived strength was found, as was a trend relating capsule size to perceived drug strength. Discussion centered on awareness and consideration of drug perceptual characteristics in support of drug efficacy.”

J Clin Psychopharmacol. 1982 Aug;2(4):245-8.
An investigation of drug expectancy as a function of capsule color and size and preparation form.
Buckalew LW, Coffield KE.

“There is accumulating evidence from different methodological approaches that the placebo effect is a neurobiological phenomenon. Behavioral, psychophysiological, and neuroimaging results have largely contributed to accepting the placebo response as real. A major aspect of recent and future advances in placebo research is to demonstrate linkages between behavior, brain, and bodily responses. This article provides an overview of the processes involved in the formation of placebo responses by combining research findings from behavioral, psychophysiological, and neuroimaging methods. The integration of these different methodological approaches is a key objective, motivating our scientific pursuits toward a placebo research that can inform and guide important future scientific knowledge.”

The Placebo Effect: Advances from Different Methodological Approaches
Karin Meissner1,2,*, Ulrike Bingel3,*, Luana Colloca4,5,*, Tor D. Wager6,*, Alison Watson7,*, and Magne Arve Flaten8,*

The Journal of Neuroscience, 9 November 2011, 31(45): 16117-16124

“It is, because I say so”

The Placebo Apothecary Workshop is an experimental attempt to give form and taste to a feeling or concern. Specifically we are interested in addressing how the expression of feelings into taste and smell can evoke notions of magic and power. Through a process of small drawings, conversation and consultation we will determine which feeling or concern or wish each child wants to address. Then we will start working on figuring out the tastes, smells, textures and colours for the potion or antidote. Spices, minerals and food will be mixed and ground, and eventually combined with mixing agents to aid the formation of a pill. A mixture of syrup, powdered gum arabic and honey can be used as mixing agents. Substances which are very soft are formed into the pilular mass by incorporation with dry powders, such as wheat flour, starch or crumbs of bread. Powders must be mixed with syrup, molasses, honey or glycerin. Once the pilular mass is created, the pill receive a spherical form by being rolled between the fingers. Each participant will leave with a pill that serve as potion or antidote for his or hers original concern, and along the way we will have had a series of conversations about medicine and magic.

Duration: on-going

Materials: various spices and food stuff such as bread, gum arabic, honey, flour and natural colorants such as cocoa, lavender, lemon, carotin and saffron.

Tools: Mortars, sieves, measuring cups and scales

Toverdrankje Wondermiddel Verandering
als ik anders was dan ik ben…

This is a children’s version of The Placebo Apothecary. Working from a Lucy booth I will be available for children to mix their own magic potion. Using conversation and consultation I will determine which feeling or concern or wish each child wants to address and we will work together to create a suitable magical solution. The potions are made from oil, water, vinagar, salts, food coloring and spices. The child will take the bottle away with them.

Duration: on-going

Age range:  3 – 10 years old

Materials: oil. water, various spices and natural colorants such as cocoa, lavender, lemon, carotin and saffron.

Tools: Mortars, sieves, measuring cups and scales