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Placebo effects: from health to sport

Abstract

One factor that may be responsible for the high individual variability seen in response to supplementation on exercise performance is the placebo effect, which is defined as a positive response to an inert treatment with no specific therapeutic properties. Psychological, social, expectancy, cognitive learning and genetic factors can generate larger or smaller placebos effects in several populations. Recently, interest has focused on "open-placebo": The use of placebo with the knowledge and endorsement of the patient or athlete, with the aim of improving health or performance. Open placebo has been shown to be therapeutically beneficial in: cancer survivors with high levels of chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine, chronic low back pain and depression. However, there is no research investigating the effect of open placebo on sports performance. This collaboration will be used to develop the following two projects: Study 1: The focus of this study will be to evaluate the effect of open-placebo on physical performance during cycling. This will be the first study to investigate the effect of open-placebo on exercise performance. Study 2: The focus of this study will be to evaluate the habitual consumption, blood response and performance of individuals following caffeine and placebo supplementation; the differences related to the aforementioned genotypes, and the metabolomic differences caused by these genotypic alterations. A major novelty of this study will also be to investigate the genetic, physiological and metabolic responses behind the placebo response and open-placebo. (AU)

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