What is the Placebo effect?

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Often, skeptics claim that the purported benefits of hydrogen are simply attributed to the placebo effect.  In stark contrast, many who have experienced the benefits of hydrogen quickly declare, “it is not placebo”.  By this point most people realize that hydrogen does have remarkable therapeutic potential, but lets briefly discuss the placebo effect.


Many people incorrectly believe that the placebo effect is simply a psychological phenomenon wherein people just “think” they feel better, but they don’t really get better (aka “its all in you head”)-for example, a diabetic who “feels” better after drinking the water, but nothing physiologically has changed (e.g. sugar levels).  In other words, they believe the placebo effect is only in the brain, but not the actual body (i.e. psychological, but NOT physiological).

Therefore, when people ingest something (water, vitamin, herb, etc.) and they actually have physiological changes (e.g. less pain, lower blood sugar, better eyesight, etc.), they then declare that the substance truly is therapeutic and not just placebo. However, this conclusion is incorrect as it is based on a faulty premise.


The fact is the placebo effect is a phenomenon wherein there is often a real physiological, not just psychological benefit.  The placebo effect is very powerful.  It has been shown to have highly beneficial effects on chronic pain, inflammation, glucose levels, hormones, depression, etc. The placebo effect actually causes real measurable biochemical changes.   Interestingly, the effects of the placebo are even altered by “pill size”, color, oral ingestion vs. inhalant or injection, etc.  The benefits of the placebo can last for at least over two years for things like rheumatoid arthritis.

The placebo effect is so powerful that in some cases it works just as effectively as a proven drug.  There is also evidence that in some cases animals can be subject to the placebo effect as well.

Importantly, just because a certain treatment (e.g. hydrogen, drug, herb, etc.) really does work in and of itself, this does not mean that the placebo effect is not providing additional benefits.

The fact that the placebo effect is a real physiological phenomenon helps us partly understand why many indisputable “snake-oil” products seem to actually work and/or sell so well.

The understanding of the placebo effect also underscores the importance of large, double-blind randomized clinical studies.  Often, these human studies show that both groups (placebo and experimental) show improvements above the original baseline control. Through a serious of statistical analysis, it can be determined if the experimental group improved any more than the placebo group.

Click here to see the 4H’s explaining the benefits.

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