Placebo's are often used in research studies to test how new drugs work in relation to no drugs at all, however a recent asthma study used drugs to determine how the actual placebo effect plays a part in Asthma cases.
The study used two different placebo treatments along with a standard albuterol bronchodilator and reached two conclusions: Placebos have no effect on lung function and they were just as effective as albuterol in relieving discomfort in people with "self-described" asthma symptoms.
In a news release lead author Michael Wechsler, MD, associate director of the Asthma Research Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School said:
"We were trying to understand whether a placebo effect exists and, if so, whether it was similar with regard to both objectively and subjectively reported measures, and whether similar effects could be observed using different types of placebo."
According to the research, albuterol inhaler use increased FEV1 (maximum forced expiratory volume in one second0 by 20% while the placebo tests both resulted in a 7% increases in FEV1.
According to Wechsler:
"Since there was no difference between either of the placebo treatments and the placebo 'control' [no treatment], we can report that there was no objective placebo effect with regard to change in lung function."