The Placebo & Nocebo Effect

Over years we have heard across the power of mind over matter, but it still confuses some of you, In this blog I try to explain the effects of Placebo and Nocebo in simple terms.

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You may have come across the words ‘Placebo and Nocebo’ from Internet, Books or someone who is interested in psychology and related research. In this blog I will try to explain these terms in simple words and also give you some ways which can help you make or break habits or change your perception towards something you have always wanted to do.

The Placebo & Nocebo effects are very much the opposite of each other and they govern your life indirectly because they are always affecting you subconsciously because of things you may have experienced, read or seen in your life.
Let’s take a look at the scientific meaning of these words :

A placebo is anything that seems to be a “real” medical treatment — but isn’t. It could be a pill, a shot, or some other type of “fake” treatment. What all placebos have in common is that they do not contain an active substance meant to affect health.
— src: webMD

Nocebo: A negative placebo effect as, for example, when patients taking medications experience adverse side effects unrelated to the specific pharmacological action of the drug. The nocebo effect is associated with the person’s prior expectations of adverse effects from treatment as well as with conditioning in which the person learns from prior experiences to associate a medication with certain somatic symptoms.
–src: Medicine Net

Science community has been carrying more and more experiments and trying to come up with an exact explanation as to why Placebo or Nocebo effect take place, and how do they make our bodies change physically within a short period of time.
When we talk about placebo, we always have to talk about the power of suggestion and power of our subconscious . It is the same effect which a hypnotist, psychiatrist or social media have on you. But it differs in the intensity and the impact it has on your life.

Nocebo also does the same thing which Placebo does but on a negative scale, it can make you feel pain which doesn’t exist. It can have long term effects like depression. It has been experimentally proven that a person can induce these feelings and can make you mentally and physically weak if you do not realize it soon enough. You may have experienced it in your lives before visiting a dentist or going through a small surgery where your mind starts forming images of your body going through extreme physical pain but in reality it turn out to be nothing more than a pinch of sting.
This is just a small example of Nocebo effect.

Both these effects make you wonder about the immense power which your mind possess, a power which makes you believe in something which is not even in existence and also react to it physically or emotionally.

Always keep one thing in mind, “YOU are always in charge of what effect something will have on your life” It means that if a certain thing is going to happen and you already know about it , it can either have a placebo effect or Nocebo effect on you but you are still in charge on what you will let your mind decide. This applies to everything in your life including the diet you are on, the job you are doing, the meal you are about to cook, the date you are going on etc,. all these small things can either meet your expectations or not but it is always in your hand how you want to treat the thing you are doing right now.

How can you take advantage of these effects ?
The very knowledge you have possessed about these effects can be advantageous to you because now you can take control of things which you were initially putting on autopilot. If you were initially skeptical about these effects you can take a look at some of the research papers which have been carried on in various different fields of study by just doing a simple google search.

You can now be more optimistic about any task you are handling and can treat it with positivity and feeling good about the outcome.

What is the power of suggestion, how can I use that?
The power of suggestion is a simple process which a person can take advantage of with a small amount of effort everyday, Basically you will be providing your mind with suggestions about what you really want to achieve, say for e.g.:  You want to wake up everyday at 6.00am but no alarm is helping you till today, a small exercise like before sleeping when your body is in a complete relaxed state you can mentally tell yourself that I will be able to wake up at 6.00am tomorrow no matter what. It also requires a small will power and a reason which you can associate to your suggestion because without it no suggestion holds power on you. You must try to reason your mind why you want to wake up at 6.00am may be because you are talking up running which will in turn improve your health.

Always know that the power of your mind is more than anything in this world and anyone who realizes this everyday can literally change his perception towards everything and be more productive and creative in anything you want to achieve.

An Easter egg for everyone ENJOY: 

Music and Memory

Music has always helped people express emotions and feeling to the world, it has also helped people explore frontiers of spirituality, healing, concentration and Alzheimer’s

One of my favorite research topic of 2015 was about the effect music has on a person’s memory. It fascinated me so much that I started reading medical papers and research about what exactly happens in the human brain while listening to music and can it be helpful to us in some or the other way.

Guess what Music can actually help us in a lot of ways, and that does not include moving on after a breakup 😉 but on a serious note, it helps us focus, heal, study and in some cases reduce the effects of dementia. Don’t believe me? Stick around for a while and I will prove that to you.

Music, as we all know, is something which has always been closer to our hearts, remember the time when your feet started moving or your fingers started tapping just after hearing your favorite song on the internet. Well it does have a scientific explanation to it and it has to do a lot with neuroscience, It’s not that boring trust me I will try to explain it in simple words.

The image on the left is well an edited picture of your brain and on the right is an edited picture of neurons which reside within your brain. To be precise they are the building blocks of your Nervous system which include your brain. And for those of who are not aware neurons form a major portion of your brain, you have as many as 100 billion (100,000,000,000) neurons in your brain right now (that is a lot!!). These neurons serve as a messenger in your body and transmit and receive impulses in the form of electricity via talking to adjacent neurons gathering data from all organs and submitting it to the brain for further processing.

So the talking or communication between two neurons is called neural pathway which is an important concept to understand how music helps patients with dementia to remember memories from the past. So when you listen to your favorite music at a party or while studying to dance or focus the type of music you listen to have a big effect on these neurons which helps you in a certain way to dance like a wild party animal or to study long hours at the library.

Ever wondered your brain getting with millions of neurons while listening to a beautiful symphony or Rock song. Well, now you know how your brain is responding the next time you listen to your favorite beats, below-shown diagram is an MRI image of the same.

brain on music
Source: Soundmattersblog.com Brain on Music

Coming to the next part of our blog, how is music helping people with dementia and Alzheimers. There is an active research going on at Alzheimer’s foundation of America, Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging of Hunter College, CUNY, and many other medical institutes. There are dedicated websites which are completely focused on this research some of which are Music&Memory, Alzheimer’s foundation of America, Brain Journal and much more.
I also came across a documentary on Netflix called ‘Alive Inside‘ which is completely related to the topic we are discussing, and it’s so well directed that critics have appreciated that documentary for a long time. In the film, there are several cases which have been shown beautifully how patients with Alzheimer’s respond to music giving their loved ones a hope to communicate and connect with them.

Watch an excerpt from the Movie ‘Alive Inside’ here.

So how does music do it? How is it helping people remember stuff from their past who normally cannot even recognize their own family members?
According to Alzheimer’s foundation of America its because:

This happens because rhythmic and other well-rehearsed responses require little to no cognitive or mental processing. They are influenced by the motor center of the brain that responds directly to auditory rhythmic cues. A person’s ability to engage in music, particularly rhythm playing and singing, remains intact late into the disease process because, again, these activities do not mandate cognitive functioning for success.

src : Alzheimers foundation of America website

Music has always been an important part of humans life since ages it has been used to heal from within, or to go to a complete state of relaxation while doing meditation or hypnotherapy or towards inducing the brain in a trance state after consumption of Ayahuasca which is a brew made by Shamans which after consuming can show you a completely different universe within your mind.

So take out your headphones and lit your neurons on fire!!
If there are any questions related to the topic please comment below or email me at rohanshirodkar29@gmail.com. I will surely answer all your questions.