BMJ Group Medical Reference
Clonidine (brand name Catapres) is a drug that's usually used for high blood pressure.
One study found that taking clonidine for a year worked about as well as taking propranolol (a beta-blocker).  Another study compared clonidine with a dummy treatment (a placebo). But the study was too small to draw any conclusions.  Clonidine can cause sleepiness and a dry mouth.
A placebo is a 'pretend' or dummy treatment that contains no active substances. A placebo is often given to half the people taking part in medical research trials, for comparison with the 'real' treatment. It is made to look and taste identical to the drug treatment being tested, so that people in the studies do not know if they are getting the placebo or the 'real' treatment. Researchers often talk about the 'placebo effect'. This is where patients feel better after having a placebo treatment because they expect to feel better. Tests may indicate that they actually are better. In the same way, people can also get side effects after having a placebo treatment. Drug treatments can also have a 'placebo effect'. This is why, to get a true picture of how well a drug works, it is important to compare it against a placebo treatment.
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