Can the placebo effect harm you?

The nocebo is the negative of a placebo, so surely that is a clue...

13th October 2017
Can the placebo effect harm you? © Getty

Asked by: Ammar El-Beik, by email

Just as the placebo effect causes positive results if you believe you are taking beneficial medicine, there is a negative version, called the nocebo effect. This creates harmful effects such as pain, high blood pressure, dizziness and rashes if you believe that these are possible side effects of the medication you have been given, even though it’s a placebo.

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