Placebo and food cravings control: results from two randomized controlled trials

Boris C. Rodríguez-Martín, Liset M. Frías-Hernández, Juan C. O’Farril-Jiménez, Ángela M. Guillén-Verano, Leticia Pastorrecio-González, Yarai Chinea-Monzón, María C. O’Farril-Rodríguez, María J. Cartalla-Gálvez, Carlos A. Águila-Vega, Ismaray Molina-Santos, Ismaray Hernández-Rodríguez


Background: We present two studies (hereafter Study 1 and Study 2), aimed to evaluate Bach Flower Remedies (BFR) effectiveness in controlling food cravings (FC), with assessment at three different stages: baseline, 1 month after baseline and 3 months after baseline.
Methods: Study 1 consisted in a double-blind placebo-controlled trial aimed to assess the specific effects of a BFR-formula and the overall effectiveness of the placebo-control on FC (n=173). Participants were assigned to BFR (n=65), Placebo (n=55) and Control group (n=53). On the other hand, Study 2 did not involve deception, and combined an implementation intention instruction with the BFR-formula, all aimed to reduce FC in overweight and obese adults while at home (n=74). Every participant received an implementation intention instruction to sip a glass of water whenever experiencing FC at home. BFR group (n=37) was instructed to sip water with BFR solution diluted in it, whereas Water group just sipped plain water (n=37).
Results: Study 1 did not support specific effects for BFR; placebo seemed to be effective in controlling FC. Moreover, findings from Study 2 suggest that BFR, used at least once a day, in conjunction with implementation intention intervention, may be helpful in reducing FC in overweight and obese adults while at home.
Conclusions: Results of both Studies helped us evaluate the ‘power of the placebo’ in helping individuals overcome FC in their everyday life.