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This study is aimed at investigating the efficacy of placebo for symptom relief in children with abdominal pain related functional gastrointestinal disorders.


Functional Abdominal Pain, Functional Dyspepsia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

Recruitment Status


Detailed Description

The purpose of this research study is to see if prescribing an open label placebo to children with functional gastrointestinal disorders will help improve symptoms and their overall quality of life. Open label means you/your child are aware you are taking liquid placebo drops and not an active medication. Symptoms associated with functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) of children and adolescents are commonly encountered symptoms in general pediatrics and pediatric gastroenterology. The FGIDs the investigators are studying include functional abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and functional dyspepsia. The liquid placebo drops contain no active medication. Recent research studies have shown improvement in gastrointestinal symptoms after taking liquid placebo drops in both children and adults with FGIDs. A randomized research study for a medication used to treat children with FGIDs showed a very significant placebo effect, meaning patients receiving placebo also experienced improvement in their symptoms. Randomized refers to the fact that subjects were randomly selected to receive either the study medication or placebo. A recent adult study gave adult patients a placebo and told them it was a placebo, and these adults also had significant symptom improvement. The goal of this study is to further explore using open label (or non-deceptive) placebo use to treat children with FGIDs.

Eligibility Criteria

Inclusion Criteria:

Age 8 to 21 years.
Diagnosis of functional abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome or functional dyspepsia made by a pediatric gastroenterologist according to Rome III Criteria.
Mean daily intensity of pain of 25 mm in the week prior to the initiation of the study, based on the Visual Analogue Scale
Children will not be excluded if they are adhering to any specific diet. Children will be asked to report any specific established diet prior to the study or dietary modifications that could have been made during the course of the study.
Normal laboratory tests including complete blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, albumin, serum amylase, lipase, liver enzymes, urine analysis, stool examination for occult blood and ova and parasites one month prior the initiation of the study. Urinary culture will be obtained if the symptoms or urinalysis suggest the possibility of a urinary infection.
Normal lactose breath test or history of lack of resolution of symptoms on a lactose-free diet (2 weeks).
Patients receiving psychological treatment, hypnosis, biofeedback or guided imagery will not be excluded of the study if those were started at least one month prior to the initiation of the study and are not planned to be discontinued during the length of the trial. Patients will need to be prescribed hyoscyamine (clinically indicated) to be considered for this study, as the placebo will be in addition to their prescribed medication.

Exclusion Criteria:

Inclusion criteria not met.
Evidence of organic gastrointestinal disease, hepatic disorders, urinary or cardiac disease.
Children below the 5th percentile for weight or height.
Hemoccult positive stools.
Patients with diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, hyperthyroidism, CHF, cardiac arrhythmias, prostatic hypertrophy, autonomic neuropathy, biliary tract disease, children with spastic paralysis or chronic lung disease (we will consult a pulmonologist concerning the inclusion of children with chronic lung disease).
Patients who are taking any of the following drugs: AbobotulinumtoxinA, Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors (Central), Cannabinoids, OnabotulinumtoxinA, Potassium Chloride, Pramlintide, RimabotulinumtoxinB, Secretin. Patients receiving antidepressant or anticholinergic drugs will be excluded from the study. PPIs will be allowed as long as the patient had been on a stable dose for at least 12 weeks.
Patients planning to change their diet during the time of the study will be excluded. Children will be asked to report any specific established diet prior to the study or dietary modifications that could have been made during the course of the study.
Patients planning to start psychological treatment, hypnosis, biofeedback, or guided imagery during the course of the study or have started any of these within the month prior to consent.
The participant is pregnant or is planning to become pregnant throughout the course of the research study


Intervention Type

Intervention Name


Placebo Suspension




Not Applicable



Min Age

8 Years

Max Age

21 Years

Download Date

July 23, 2021

Principal Investigator

Samuel Nurko

Primary Contact Information

For more information on this trial, visit


For more information and to contact the study team:

Efficacy of Open Label Placebo in Children With FGIDs NCT02389998