The Power of the Placebo: Introduction (01:01)
This segment orients viewers to the topic of placebos and their effect.
Manchester Velodrome (02:11)
Dr. Chris Beedie gathers top cyclists to see if he can increase their speed with the use of legal performance enhancing supplements. Cyclists provide baseline time trials.
Cornstarch Pills (02:11)
Cyclists receive performance enhancing supplements before performing a second race. Beedie explains the hidden experiment.
Quicker Times (02:48)
Cyclists describe what the second race felt like. Beedie compares their times; the cyclists learn the pill was a placebo. Beedie found a placebo effect in all of his studies.
Placebo Skepticism (02:28)
Studies show that there may be more to placebos than traditionally thought. Dr. David Kallmes used cement to alleviate back pain; he wants to tests this procedure against a fake operation.
Vertebral Fracture (02:42)
Bonnie Anderson enrolls in Kallmes' trial. She undergoes an operation without knowing if it is the placebo procedure.
Procedure Benefits (02:50)
Anderson felt immediately better after the procedure; she was in the placebo group. Anderson compares the procedure to her previous operation. Kallmes' discusses the trial study results.
Oxygen Placebo (03:49)
Fabrizio Benedetti's lab is at the top of a mountain in the Italian Alps. He conducts an experiment to see what happens when people expect to get extra oxygen, but do not actually get it.
Physiological Changes (02:33)
Benedetti discusses the reduction of PGE2 when given oxygen. His research reveals a reduction in PGE2 when given fake oxygen.
Monitoring Changes (03:55)
Prof. Tor Wager performs the thermal pain test on Jake while scanning his brain.
How Does Placebo Change Body Chemicals? (02:49)
Jake learns the true nature of the experiment. Scans reveal that the brain releases opioids with a placebo. Wager explains why drugs and placebos work.
Scientists want to know what a sugar pill can do. Paul Patterson suffers from Parkinson's disease; he takes dopamine to control symptoms. Learn the purposes of dopamine.
Parkinson's Placebo Experiment (02:15)
Prof. Jon Stoessl tests Parkinson's medication against a placebo; Patterson participates in the trial. Patterson reflects on the results.
Parkinson's Brain Scans (02:20)
The scans of patients receiving a placebo help explain how Patterson's symptoms faded.
Believing a Placebo is Real (02:46)
Wager discusses the importance of expectations; watch him climb a mountain. Thoughts and expectations trigger chemical reactions that change our bodies.
Making the Most of a Placebo (02:21)
Studies reveal the size, shape, color, and cost of a medication impacts its affects. Harvard experts want to harness the placebo affect's power without lying.
Challenging Placebo Assumptions (02:19)
Ted Kaptchuk conducts an experiment on the effects of a placebo when patients know that is what they are receiving. Linda Bonanno shares her experience.
IBS Experiment (02:35)
Patients found that their symptoms returned once the placebo pills were gone. Kaptchuk shares his theory on why the placebo pills worked.
Doctor/Patient Relationship (03:55)
Kaptchuk creates an acupuncture experiment to find out whether or not a doctor can produce a placebo effect.
Placebo Review (01:30)
Hear final thoughts on further placebo considerations. Experts discuss placebo's effectiveness and future challenges.
Credits: The Power of the Placebo (00:43)
Credits: The Power of the Placebo
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