It's not just the power of suggestion: 'Placebo effect' is in the genes

Why some people miraculously get better when given a placebo has baffled doctors for years.

But scientists have now linked the mysterious phenomenon to a gene. Placebos are usually sugar-coated pills that doctors give patients in clinical studies to compare the response to the actual drug and sham treatment. Until now, most people put the surprise effect down to the power of suggestion.

But Tomas Furmark, of Uppsala University in Sweden, has now pinned the placebo effect of people with an exaggerated fear of public humiliation to the gene for tryptophan hydroxylase-2, which makes the brain chemical, serotonin.

They studied 25 people with the condition, known as social anxiety disorder. Volunteers had to challenge their fear by giving two speeches, before and after a ‘treatment’ period of eight weeks. Participants believed they were given an active drug when they actually received the placebo.

Ten people ‘responded’ to the sham treatment. They felt half as anxious during the second speech while the others were just as nervous.

Source - Daily Mail

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