Placebos and painkillers: is mind as real as matter?

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2005 Jul;6(7):545-52. doi: 10.1038/nrn1705.


Considerable progress has been made in our understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms of the placebo effect, and most of our knowledge originates from the field of pain and analgesia. Today, the placebo effect represents a promising model that could allow us to shed new light on mind-body interactions. The mental events induced by placebo administration can activate mechanisms that are similar to those activated by drugs, which indicates a similarity between psychosocial and pharmacodynamic effects. These new neurobiological advances are already changing our conception of how clinical trials and medical practice must be viewed and conducted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mental Processes / drug effects
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Placebo Effect*
  • Placebos / therapeutic use*


  • Analgesics
  • Placebos