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Placebos are a sham — usually mere sugar pills designed to represent "no treatment" in a clinical treatment study. The effectiveness of the actual medication is compared with the placebo to determine if the medication works.
And yet, for some people, the placebo works nearly as well as the medication.
Leuchter noted that this is not the sole explanation for a response to a placebo, which is likely to be caused by many factors, both biological and psychosocial. "But the data suggests that individual differences in response to placebo are significantly influenced by individual genotypes," he said.