Tricks our mind can play..... The most amazing part is in bold font - see below. Shannon Harvey talks about her recent interview: "recent interview I did with a neurophysiologist named Fabrizio Benedetti from the University of Turin, who is a leading researcher on the placebo response, and an expert on how our mind can influence our body. In 2014 Benedetti wanted to test just how powerful the words of others can be by studying the nocebo effect, which is when you have a negative response to a harmless substance you believe is harmful. Instead of using fake pills for his experiment though, Benedetti planted a “social placebo”. He took 121 students to a medical research facility located 3500 meters above sea level in the Italian Alps and deliberately started a rumour about the risk of mountain sickness and the possible occurrence of severe headache. He informed only one student that he needed to bring a specific dose of aspirin in case he succumbed, giving the young man a brochure depicting a headache sufferer at 3500 metres lying on a bed, grimacing, and taking pills. It took just one week for Benedetti’s “social infection” to spread, during which time another 36 students contacted the university asking for more details about high altitude headache and the doses of aspirin needed for their trip. Unbeknown to these students, they would become Benedetti’s nocebo experimental group. On the day of the trip, 86 percent of those in the nocebo group got a headache versus only 52 percent in the control group. Those who had heard the rumour were also the ones who suffered the worst headaches. While it is largely thought that the nocebo response works by directing our attention toward symptoms that would have been there anyway, it is interesting that analysis of the student’s saliva in Benedetti’s study revealed a genuine biological response to the low oxygen conditions including a proliferation of the enzymes associated with altitude headache. It’s also interesting that the students in the nocebo group showed an increase of the stress hormone cortisol, though the students in the control group did not, indicating that the stress hormone rise was due to the anxiety primed by the rumour. Over the last decade, negative suggestion has been shown to cause people to experience negative symptoms in treatments for everything from headache, to multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease and depression. It’s also interesting that reviews have estimated that anywhere from 4 – 26 percent of patients who receive a placebo (fake treatment) in trials discontinue their use because they think they are experiencing adverse effects. But what I find particularly thought provoking about Benedetti’s study in the Italian Alps is that it demonstrates the existence of a “social nocebo” – where our friends, colleagues, family members, and doctors can communicate negative expectations that result in a biological response. “The propagation of negative and positive expectation could be very important in illness in general and in the generation of pathology or disease,” Benedetti told me."