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Placebo cigarettes reduce the craving for nicotine
Many people around the world smoke cigarettes. Even if doctors keep advising against it, some smokers simply cannot stop their vice. One reason for this is the addiction to nicotine. Researchers have now found that smoking cigarettes without nicotine is enough. If people feel that they smoke nicotine, the withdrawal symptoms decrease.
Scientists at the University of Texas at Dallas found that smokers just have to believe in smoking nicotine to reduce their withdrawal symptoms. The experts published the results of their study in the journal "Frontiers in Psychiatry".
Faith influences desire
The effect that nicotine has on our brain seems to be influenced by belief in the nicotine content of cigarettes or tobacco, the experts speculate. If smokers just think they are consuming nicotine, their desire for tobacco will decrease. These results are particularly interesting for women. Researchers have already found that smoking in women dramatically increases the risk of bleeding in the brain.
Placebo cigarettes are effective if smokers believe in nicotine levels
In a series of experiments, researchers found that it was sufficient to smoke cigarettes without nicotine. In order to satisfy the nicotine addiction of smokers, those affected do not necessarily have to smoke a cigarette with nicotine. It is sufficient to smoke a cigarette without nicotine, as long as the smoker simply believes in the nicotine it contains, the doctors explain. This could save many smokers' lives or at least protect them from serious illnesses. For example, other studies recently found that smoking increases the risk of Crohn's disease reopening after bowel surgery.
Subjects receive cigarettes with and without nicotine
All subjects were given a nicotine-containing cigarette twice during the study. They were also given a cigarette without nicotine (placebo) twice. For each type of cigarette, the participants were told the truth about the nicotine content once and the opposite was said once, the scientists add.
Typical experimental setup examines the effectiveness of placebos
For example, the experiment could go something like this. On the first visit of the subject, the subject was given a cigarette without nicotine (placebo). However, the participant thought to smoke a cigarette with nicotine, the experts explain. The cigarette could also contain nicotine, but the smoker thought it was a placebo. There was also the case that the cigarette smoked contained nicotine and the smoker believed it contained nicotine. As a last resort, participants believed they smoked a placebo cigarette and the cigarette really did not contain nicotine, the authors add.
If smokers don't believe in nicotine in cigarettes, they won't reduce their cravings either
Every year on World No Tobacco Day there are tips and guidelines on how you can finally quit smoking. The new study could now help more people to quit smoking. The result of the investigation was also interesting from other points of view. For smokers who smoked a cigarette with nicotine, but did not believe that the cigarette contained nicotine, their desire for nicotine was not satisfied either, the researchers explain. So just believing in nicotine is enough to reduce addiction.
Belief in a drug affects its effectiveness
The results suggest that the drugs needed to stop smoking are credible. For a drug to develop an effect on those affected, they must also believe in the effectiveness and presence of the drug, explains study author Xiaosi Gu from the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas. The statements of the experts support earlier investigations. These had already shown that belief affects the effectiveness of a drug on addictive behavior. (as)