Migraines respond to great expectations

Meds and placebos both fight pain better when patients anticipate getting active drug

In a new study, migraine patients experienced the greatest decline in pain when placebo pills (blue) and Maxalt pills (brown) were labeled as “Maxalt” (M) or “Maxalt or placebo” (U). Pills labeled “placebo” (P) were the weakest painkillers in each treatment condition. Between 30 minutes and 2.5 hours after an attack started, migraine pain increased among patients who got no treatment at all (black). 

Adapted from S. Kam-Hansen et al/Science Translational Medicine 2014 

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