Chronic pain is an ailment which most people suffer from in some form or the other. While there are several pain relievers available in the market, a new study claims that sugar pills may reduce chronic pain in certain patients as effectively as any powerful medicine.
Scientists have shown they can predict which chronic pain patients will respond to a sugar placebo pill based on the patients’ brain anatomy and psychological characteristics.
How the Brain respond to Sugar pills
“Their brain is already tuned to respond… They have the appropriate psychology and biology that puts them in a cognitive state that as soon as you say, ‘this may make your pain better,” their pain gets better,” said A Vania Apkarian, a professor at Northwestern University in the US.
“You can tell them, ‘I’m giving you a drug that has no physiological effect but your brain will respond to it,’” he said.
Why a non-active drug can be better than an active drug
Scientists believe it is much better to give someone a non-active drug rather than an active drug and get the same result.
Two Arms of Study
The study published in the journal Nature Communications divided about 60 chronic back pain patients into two arms of the study.
In one study arm, subjects were not aware if they got the drug or the placebo.
The other arm is the control group. It included people who came to the clinic but did not get a placebo or drug.
The individuals whose pain decreased as a result of the sugar pill had a similar brain anatomy and psychological traits. The right side of their emotional brain was larger than the left, and they had a larger cortical sensory area than people who were not responsive to the placebo, researchers said.
(With inputs from agencies)