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Each week on Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, explore different aspects of human behavior and the brain.

Harnessing the Power of the Placebo

There are a lot of factors that help to regulate our overall heath and wellness. If we are content in our life and relationships, we are more likely to be healthy.

If we exercise and eat well, we reap the benefits in our mind and body. And, as recent studies by Ted Kaptchuckand others show, if we take medications or supplements, even if they're nothing but rice powder and sugar, we can feel better.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke talk about why taking placebos somehow makes us feel healthier.

It turns out that if we expect an outcome from a medicine or a supplement, we are likely to get that outcome. Studies, like one by Dan Ariely, also show that the more expensive the supplement, the more effective we feel it is. Even though it may be all in our head, we underestimate the impact our head has on our overall health. We can ostensibly think ourselves better or worse.

This is not to say that medicines and supplements have no impact; in fact it's quite the opposite. Herbal supplements and vitamins can be really good for us, or bad for us, but there is an added benefit from the act of taking them that we sometimes overlook.

Rebecca McInroy is an award-winning show creator, host, and executive producer for KUT, KUTX, and KUT.ORG.
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