The “nocebo effect” is like the placebo effect, except in reverse. Whereas placebos trick people into feeling better, “nocebos” are things that make people feel worse, even though they don’t really exist. They can even kill people! Here’s how we can trick ourselves into dying, and how doctors may have found a cure.
We’ve seen this in numerous aspects – WiFi sickness (not real), those who claim issues relating to gluten (as opposed to those who actually are sensitive/allergic)… A lot of chemical intolerance tests do show this as well.
The basic chemistry of hair dyes has changed little over the last century, but what do we know about the risks of colouring our hair, and why do we do it?
Every two months Barclay Cunningham goes through a process that begins with taking an antihistamine tablet. After a few hours, she smears a thick layer of antihistamine cream across her forehead, around her ears and over her neck. Finally, she shields the area with ripped-up plastic carrier bags. All this so she can dye her hair.
It didn’t start out this bad. Cunningham coloured her hair for a decade without any problems. Then, one day, she noticed that the skin on her ears was inflamed after she’d dyed her hair. She fashioned plastic bag earmuffs and carried on colouring. But the allergic reaction persisted, so her precautions became more elaborate. Now if she dyes her hair without these measures, she gets an itchy, blistery, pus-filled rash that lasts for weeks.