What Are Placebo Pills?

placebo-pills Credit: srgblog/CC-BY-2.0

A placebo pill is a pill given to patients that does not include the drug components meant to treat a medical condition, according to WebMD. A placebo pill may be given to a control group as part of a medical research study or to patients to induce the placebo effect.

In research studies, a placebo pill may be given to certain unaware participants while other participants receive the actual pill, allowing researchers to measure the effect of the real medication against those taking the placebo pill, according to WebMD. Sometimes, people taking a placebo pill experience a placebo effect that provides symptomatic relief due to the expectations of the patient.