Study finds paracetamol ‘no better than placebo’ for most pain

Paracetamol is ‘no more effective than a placebo’ when it comes to treating many common pain conditions, a University of Sydney study has found.

For many common conditions, such as migraines, back pain and common cold-related headaches, the evidence to support its use was “of low quality or inconclusive”.


The truth comes out. Photo: LWP


People with pain have some very simple demands. They want the pain gone, and they want it gone now.

A successful result is one where the pain is reduced by half or more, or where they have no pain. That result delivers not just on pain, but also sleep, depression, quality of life, work and the ability to get on with life.

For many years paracetamol has been the ‘go-to’ medicine for all sorts of acute and chronic pain conditions. However, this could all just be another deception.

Paracetamol has been found to be no more effective than a placebo when it comes to treating many common pain conditions, a new Australian study has found.

Researchers from the University of Sydney have looked at trial data for pain relief in 44 conditions and found the evidence only showed paracetamol offering some benefit for four of them.

The researchers found it only proved effective in a handful of cases, including knee and hip osteoarthritis, tension headaches, perineal pain related to childbirth and after a craniotomy.

But for many common conditions, such as migraines, back pain and common cold-related headaches, the evidence to support its use was “of low quality or inconclusive”.

“We simply don’t have strong evidence to know whether it does or doesn’t work,” Dr Christina Abdel Shaheed, from the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney, told 3AW.

“I think if there is one take home message from this research it’s encouraging people not to be reliant on any pain medicine. They should … combine it with non-drug strategies to amplify their pain relief.”

This report follows a similar Cochrane review, which unequivocally found it doesn’t work. Not immediately, not later. At no stage between one and 12 weeks is 4,000 mg daily any better than a placebo.

Good to see a comprehensive study like this undertaken on Big Pharma’s products, given their continued massive influence in Australian health.

Many would be shocked to learn that placebos are a common occurrence in medicine.


The scientific religion that underpins the medical establishment is full of many holes like this.

Prior research has indicated that placebo use by general practitioners (GPs) is remarkably high in Australia, shining a light on the deceptive nature of pharmaceutical prescription in this country.

A new survey by Associate Professor Ben Colagiuri from the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney, and Dr Kate Faasse from the University of New South Wales, examined rates of use and beliefs about placebos in the journal The Australian Journal of General Practice.

Active placebos are defined as “active treatments prescribed solely or primarily to enhance treatment outcomes by increasing positive expectationsrather than through any specific physiological or pharmacological treatment effect”.

Some of the key findings from the study revealed:

  • 77% of GPs had offered an active placebo (such as antibiotics for a virus).
  • 39% of GPs had offered an inert placebo (such as saline spray or a water-based cream).
  • GPs used placebos because they believe they have a strong role in ‘shaping expectations’.
  • GPs felt that medical trainees would benefit from more education about placebos.

The most concerning news, Associate Professor Colagiuri said, is that in some cases GPs are also prescribing antibiotics, an active medication, for purposes other than its design.

“We already know that doctors and GPs use placebos regularly overseas, but we wanted to see what was happening in Australia,”Associate Professor Ben Colagiuri said. 

“The most common case is when a GP prescribes antibiotics when they know or strongly suspect that the patient doesn’t have a bacterial infection. 

In these cases, they are prescribing antibiotics as a type of placebo, often because a patient expects or demands treatment. But antibiotics can have side effects and there are problems with antibiotic resistance if we prescribe antibiotics too much.”

According to Colagiuri, one of the most important findings coming from the study is that GPs felt that medical trainees could benefit from more education about the placebo effect.

He said antibiotics were one of the most commonly prescribed active placebos, particularly where patients had a viral illness.

Experts stress that while placebo treatments might help symptoms of an illness, they won’t cure a serious condition such as heart disease or asthma.


The placebo effect occurs when the patient believes a treatment will help them to feel better. These beliefs trigger changes in the central nervous system, such as the release of neurotransmitters in the brain that actually cause improvement. 

Usually placebos involve deception, with the vast majority of Australian GPs — more than 80 per cent — believing that giving a placebo is ethical.

Three out of four GPs say they prescribe active placebos, most commonly to treat viral infections.

The second most frequently stated reason given in the current study was because a patient expected or demanded a treatment. 

An estimated one in five patients makes at least one request for a prescription or other medical service during clinical consultations, and such requests substantially increase the likelihood of receiving the requested outcome.

Dr. Kate Faasse said the study found rates of placebo use by Australian GPs were similar to those seen in other countries and the current study is in line with international research.

A recent systematic review found that between 17% and 80% of physicians outside Australia had used inert placebos in practice.

“Now we need more focus on understanding the role of psychological and social factors in physical health outcomes,” Dr Faasse said.

“There is so much more than just the active ingredients of a medicine, for example, that can help to improve people’s health.

In terms of future research, I think the possibility that we — either as individuals, or in medical contexts — can be harnessing the placebo effect in our own lives by knowingly using ‘open-label’ placebos is fascinating.”

Australians have been deceived from lack of knowledge about the healthcare system, as fake science and fake medicine continues to kill, steal and destroy the lives of uninformed citizens.

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4 comments on “Study finds paracetamol ‘no better than placebo’ for most pain”

  1. An important subject, and yet another indictment of pHARMa…as if the coronahoax (including the covax) were not enough! Yes, the placebo effect is powerful and demonstrates the profound effect of the mind/brain on health and physiology.

    I never thought paracetamol was much good. I have found 2 aspirins to be highly effective for occasional headaches and sinus pain.

    1. I echo your sentiments here Graham. Pharma comes from the greek word Pharmakeia, which stands for “anything that medicates the mind”. In laymen terms meaning, “put under a spell”. People have been put under a spell for centuries, by the music industry, Hollywood, the MSM, the Education system and for many many millions of others, the pharmaceutical industry. And now, here we are as planned, most people having been medicated to the point of having been turned into sheep, all being rounded and herded helplessly into the truck heading for the knackery. What a sad but predicted state of affairs.

  2. What a superb summary of, and explanation for, the parlous situation in which humanity now finds itself, Legitano7.

  3. Agreed, Pharmakeia, Witchcraft, occult spellbinding. Ethan has done member pieces on the medical cult which are a great read.

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