Anyone who has experienced the emotional pain of a broken heart can tell you that it feels very real. A recent study carried out by the University of Colorado Boulder seems to suggest that medical science could have an answer. Study results were released in the Journal of Neuroscience.
The Placebo Effect Could Mend A Broken Heart And Even More?
Enlisting the aid of subjects who had recently undergone a bad breakup, researchers at CU-Boulder first established the similarities between physical and emotional pain. The subjects were exposed to heartbreak by looking at a picture of their recent ex.
Then, they were exposed to physical pain by touching something hot. Brain scans that monitored activity accompanied each kind of painful stimuli. The results confirmed that emotional and physical pain produce similar types of brain activity.
After establishing this link, researchers then handed out the placebo. They told half the volunteers the spray would merely help keep their noses hydrated. The remaining half was informed that it was a potent painkiller with the power to combat both physical and emotional pain.
The results gave the researchers insight into the power of the placebo effect. According to Dr. Tor Wager, a CU-Boulder neuroscience professor, the benefits were almost immediate.
“When people got the placebo spray and they believed it was going to be helpful for them, then they felt a lot better,” said Dr. Wager.
However, the good vibes don’t stop there. Research found that the more positive and optimistic outlook enjoyed by the volunteers caused the brain to release opioids. These are a natural feel-good chemical that is part of a healthy functioning brain.
The evidence seems to suggest that optimism helps lead to an uplifting and healthy cycle. As Dr. Tor puts it, the things one believes in can really make a difference. These seem to actually affect the brain’s chemistry and physiology, in a way “that is important in some cases”.
This study shows that positivity is powerful, and one doesn’t need the placebo effect to benefit from it. Finding a way to channel optimistic expectations doesn’t require a fake drug and can be a truly effective way to mend a broken heart or find emotional peace.
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