‘I knew they were sugar pills but I felt fantastic’ – the rise of open-label placebos

‘I knew they were sugar pills but I felt fantastic’ – the rise of open-label placebos

IBS patient Linda Buonanno knew the pills she was given contained no active drugs, yet they had an immediate effect on her condition. So can placebos play a useful medical role?


I thought this rather intriguing - though who knows where it will end up?


Featured Content

HealthUnlocked User Stories

How did you improve your fitness, general well-being or cope with your illness?

Share your story

Featured by HealthUnlocked

15 Replies

  • Wouldn't mean that doctors calling us hypochondriac and lazy idiots are causing more illness than drugs can cure? So doctors cause more anxiety and depression.

    Interesting indeed ;)

  • A very neat inversion of the discussion - thank you! :-)

  • Sugar pills for hypothyroid patients will be NICE recommendations next no doubt! ☺️... really cheap....

  • JGBH ...you can just see it coming can't you.... like standing on a rail line with the express hurtling towards us! I wonder if this sort of thing will be produced when review 'discussions' start?

  • Sadly for Buonanno, when the study ended she was unable to obtain further effective placebos and her symptoms returned.

    Is it me or isn't a placebo 'ineffective' anyway...and isn't that the 'problem' with placebo it is not going to have a long term effect?

    My son came out from seeing Dr P saying how he felt better just for seeing him. (my son has adrenal issues) But he would wouldn't he - the adrenal boost from seeing someone who actually listened and made sense of his problems for him and offered him some hope and help, was bound to make him feel better, temporarily.

  • Exactly. Of course you feel better when you are taken seriously and feel safe and secure instead doctor belittling you and your symptoms.

    Being treated like an idiot will cause stress reaction which would deplete the adrenal glands even more!

  • When you consult a person who is calm, relaxed and tells you what the problem is fills one with confidence. Instead of someone who, despite blood tests, tell you that your TSH is fine - and nothing is done about your continuing symptoms except a prescription for the symptom rather than a decent dose of thyrod hormones.

  • My understanding is that lots of circumstances will make a placebo more powerful. It's got to be dressed up like a real drug, and feel like one to take. Also things like side effects can make it work better.

  • The doctors think we are complainers because we say when on levo 'I still don't feel so good', so maybe they'll also provide some sweeteners like a nice bar of quality chocolate to make us feel much better. :)

  • shaws , I need something to take this awful permanent nasty taste away!

  • So that's why generic Levo doesn't work - they are placebos!

  • j_bee exactly what I thought on reading this!

  • You are right - we need all need a 'surprise' prescription for NDT or T3. Take your pick! :) Mind you we just might drop dead with surprise as heart will have failed.

  • The morgue?

  • Not quite ready yet :)

You may also like...