On Schleppfuss' path: The placebo response in human evolution

Andrés Bendesky, Adam M. Sonabend

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The therapeutic power of placebo is well recognized. In fact, central nervous system (CNS)-body interactions can influence health, fertility, and even life span itself. We suggest that the placebo response might have been of importance in the evolution of the human species, once brain development reached a certain level. Some individuals may have positively responded to the placebo given by a primordial healer or by themselves, and markedly increased their health and well-being. Those individuals may have had an evolutionary advantage due to increased fertility, better physical performance and increased life span. We consider this enhanced "CNS-body interactions/placebo sensitivity" a biological trait that has been selected for through time. Being this a genetic trait, it is susceptible to bear polymorphisms and suffer spontaneous mutations, which would explain the well recognized interindividual variation in the response to placebo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)414-416
Number of pages3
JournalMedical Hypotheses
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'On Schleppfuss' path: The placebo response in human evolution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this