London: Solving the mystery of why some people benefit from remedies that do not contain any active pain-relief ingredients, scientists have found that the placebo effect doesn`t only lie in the mind.The new study has suggested that placebos work, in part, by blocking pain signals in the spinal cord from arriving at the brain in the first place.
Doctors also observe that patients report feeling better only days after being prescribed antidepressants, even though the direct effects take several weeks to kick in.In the study, the researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the spinal cords of 15 healthy volunteers, focussing on an area called the dorsal horn, which transmits pain signals coming up through the spinal cord into the pain-related areas in the brain.During the scan, the volunteers received laser "pinpricks" to their hands. The volunteers were told that a pain-relief cream had been applied to one of their hands and a control cream to the other. However, without informing the volunteers, an identical control cream was administered to both hands.When people believed that they had received the active cream, they reported feeling 25 per cent less pain and showed significantly reduced activity in the spinal cord pathway that processes pain."We`ve shown that psychological factors can influence pain at the earliest stage of the central nervous system, in a similar way to drugs like morphine," Times Online quoted Falk Eippert, of the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, who led the study, as saying.ANI
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