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How Placebo Effects Work to Change Our Biology & Psychology

Huberman Lab

Scicomm Media

Science, Life Sciences, Health & Fitness

4.923.3K Ratings

🗓️ 4 March 2024

⏱️ 78 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


In this episode, I discuss placebo and belief and mindset effects — all of which exert a powerful and real influence on our biology and psychology. I discuss how your beliefs and expectation that a certain outcome will occur after taking a substance (or any intervention cause genuine changes in brain and bodily function. I discuss how placebos can change neurotransmitter and hormone release, pain levels, whether the stress response is beneficial or detrimental and more. I also explain how placebo effects can work with traditional drug or behavioral treatments to help improve health outcomes and why some people are more susceptible to placebo effects. By the end of the episode, listeners will understand the placebo effect, how it works, and how beliefs and mindsets can be leveraged toward mental health, physical health, and performance goals. For show notes, including referenced articles and additional resources, please visit hubermanlab.com. Thank you to our sponsors AG1: https://drinkag1.com/huberman Eight Sleep: https://www.eightsleep.com/huberman AeroPress: https://aeropress.com/huberman Levels: https://levels.link/huberman InsideTracker: https://insidetracker.com/huberman Momentous: https://livemomentous.com/huberman Timestamps (00:00:00) Placebo Effects (00:02:40) Sponsors: Eight Sleep, AeroPress & Levels (00:07:24) Placebo, Nocebo vs. Belief Effect, Prefrontal Cortex (00:14:03) Dopamine, Placebo & Parkinson’s Disease; Placebo Controls (00:21:36) Hormone Release & Placebo Effect, Paired Associations (00:28:52) Conditioning Effect & Insulin; Pavlovian Response (00:32:50) Sponsor: AG1 (00:34:17) Context & Expectations; Placebo Effect & Brain (00:40:51) Cancer, Mind-Body Practices; Placebo Effects & Limits (00:44:54) Asthma, Specificity & Placebo Effects (00:48:01) Sponsor: InsideTracker (00:49:03) Nicotine & Dose-Dependent Placebo Effects (00:55:31) Placebo Effects vs. Belief Effects, Food & Mindset (01:01:02) Exercise & Belief Effects (01:04:08) Placebo Effect, Brain & Stress Response (01:11:18) Individual Variation, Genetics & Placebo Effect (01:16:11) Zero-Cost Support, Spotify & Apple Reviews, YouTube Feedback, Sponsors, Momentous, Social Media, Neural Network Newsletter Disclaimer

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Welcome to the Huberman Lab Podcast, where we discuss science and science-based tools for everyday life.


I'm Andrew Huberman and I'm a professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology at Stanford School of Medicine.


Today we are discussing placebo effects.


We will also be discussing what are called no Cebo effects as well as belief effects. All three of these placebo, no Cebo, and


belief effects are all related to our brain's incredible ability to place an expectation on what is about to happen and actually change what is about to happen


independent of the physical and chemical properties of a drug or some sort of other treatment solution for things like pain, Parkinson's


disease, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, stress and on and on and on.


Now one of the most incredible things about these effects


is that despite the fact that it would appear


that they are simply psychological or the power of the mind over matter.


It's not that at all.


Placebo, nocibo, and belief effects


actually change the way your biology.


Your physiology works. In fact, you have neural circuits within your brain that are dedicated to how your expectation


of what will happen actually changes some of the most core biological functions within your brain and body,


modifying for instance heart rate, blood pressure, the release of specific


neuromodulators such as dopamine and adrenaline, and so powerfully so that these types of effects can actually work along with traditional drug treatments or behavioral treatments in order to vastly change the way that your brain and body work.


So if you think of the word placebo as an inert substance or treatment that is merely a control,


it's merely something introduced to an experiment or a clinical trial to try and figure out, you know, what's happening normally in somebody's brain or body as a comparison to some drug or other type of treatment.


Well, while that can be true and placebo controls are vital for


certain clinical studies, it's also the case that placebo's, no seboes, and belief


effects have powerful impact on our physiology, entirely separate from all of that.


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