Partial antagonism of placebo analgesia by naloxone

Pain. 1983 Jun;16(2):129-143. doi: 10.1016/0304-3959(83)90203-8.


Thirty subjects were given a placebo (intravenous saline), which was described as a known pain killer, once a week for 3 consecutive weeks. Experimental ischemic arm pain was produced prior to the placebo and again 1 h later. In a double blind procedure, half of the subjects received 10 mg of naloxone after placebo; the remaining subjects received naloxone vehicle. In addition to the placebo session, there were control and naloxone sessions each week to determine the normal changes in pain and the effect of naloxone on the pain, respectively, when no placebo was given. Significant placebo-induced analgesia was demonstrated, and a group of consistent placebo responders was identified. Although naloxone alone had no effect on the experimental pain, naloxone diminished the analgesic effectiveness of the placebo, suggesting that endogenous opioids are involved in producing placebo-induced analgesia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesia*
  • Arm / blood supply
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Endorphins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ischemia / complications
  • Male
  • Naloxone / pharmacology*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Management
  • Placebos*
  • Random Allocation
  • Receptors, Opioid / drug effects


  • Endorphins
  • Placebos
  • Receptors, Opioid
  • Naloxone