Can Placebos Cure Pain?

In the face of a spiraling opioid epidemic, alternatives for addressing chronic pain are essential. Taking a placebo may turn out to be just the prescription we need. Neuroscientists have discovered that a pill with no pharmaceutically active ingredients can reduce responses in the brain’s pain centers, and trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s own chemical pain reliever. Placebos can be effective even when someone knows they are sham therapy. Unwrapping the mix of biology and psychology involved here reveals something about the power of belief and expectation – and ultimately may help reduce our dependence on drugs.

Speakers: Jo Marchant
Festival: 2016

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