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Can the placebo effect harm you? © Getty Images

Can the placebo effect harm you?

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

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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luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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