Medicine:Therapeutic effect

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Therapeutic effect refers to the response(s) after a treatment of any kind, the results of which are judged to be useful or favorable.[1][2][3] This is true whether the result was expected, unexpected, or even an unintended consequence. An adverse effect (including nocebo) is the converse and refers to harmful or undesired response(s). What constitutes a therapeutic effect versus a side effect is a matter of both the nature of the situation and the goals of treatment. No inherent difference separates therapeutic and undesired side effects; both responses are behavioral/physiologic changes that occur as a response to the treatment strategy or agent.[2]

Treatment scope

To maximize therapeutic effects (desired) and minimize side effects (undesired) requires recognition and quantification of the treatment in multiple dimensions. In the specific case of targeted pharmaceutical interventions a combination of therapies is often needed to achieve the desired results.[4]

Pharmacology examples

  • A 2015 review found that aloe vera exhibits therapeutic antioxidant, antimicrobial, immune boosting, antitumor, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, wound healing, and antidiabetic effects.[5]
  • Also in 2015, a review found that probiotics were beneficial in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.[6]
  • Again in 2015 another review found that Rituximab was therapeutic in the treatment of myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disorder.[7]
  • A 2016 review found that the adjunctive use of standardized pharmaceutical-grade nutrients, known as nutraceuticals, had a therapeutic effect in patients with depression.[8]
  • Also in 2016, a review found that despite limited data botulinum toxin type A may be beneficial for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia paroxysms and suggests further study.[9]

Non-pharmacology examples

  • A 2014 review found there was a strong therapeutic benefit from stem cell therapy on organ recovery from injury and that it may also inhibit tumor growth.[10]
  • A 2015 review found that mindfulness based interventions had a therapeutic effect on stress reduction for mental illness.[11]
  • Also in 2015, a review showed that irradiation with low level laser therapy had the therapeutic effect of increasing in vitro stem cell proliferation rates.[12]
  • A 2017 review showed aerobic and resistance exercise had a therapeutic effect on the physical and mental well being of cancer survivors.[13]
  • Also in 2017, a review found that low-intensity extracorporeal shock wave treatment was therapeutic in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.[14]


  1. "Definition of therapeutic". Retrieved 18 July 2018. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Kramer, Thomas A. M.. "Side Effects and Therapeutic Effects". Retrieved 18 July 2018. 
  3. "Drug, pharmacology and therapeutic". Retrieved 18 July 2018. 
  4. Fitzgerald, Jonathan B; Schoeberl, Birgit; Nielsen, Ulrik B; Sorger, Peter K (2006). "Systems biology and combination therapy in the quest for clinical efficacy". Nature Chemical Biology 2 (9): 458–466. doi:10.1038/nchembio817. ISSN 1552-4450. PMID 16921358. 
  5. Radha, Maharjan H.; Laxmipriya, Nampoothiri P. (2015). "Evaluation of biological properties and clinical effectiveness of Aloe vera: A systematic review". Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine 5 (1): 21–26. doi:10.1016/j.jtcme.2014.10.006. ISSN 2225-4110. PMID 26151005. 
  6. Didari, Tina (2015). "Effectiveness of probiotics in irritable bowel syndrome: Updated systematic review with meta-analysis". World Journal of Gastroenterology 21 (10): 3072–3084. doi:10.3748/wjg.v21.i10.3072. ISSN 1007-9327. PMID 25780308. 
  7. Iorio, Raffaele; Damato, Valentina; Alboini, Paolo Emilio; Evoli, Amelia (12 October 2014). "Efficacy and safety of rituximab for myasthenia gravis: a systematic review and meta-analysis". Journal of Neurology 262 (5): 1115–1119. doi:10.1007/s00415-014-7532-3. ISSN 0340-5354. PMID 25308632. 
  8. Sarris, Jerome; Murphy, Jenifer; Mischoulon, David; Papakostas, George I.; Fava, Maurizio; Berk, Michael; Ng, Chee H. (2016). "Adjunctive Nutraceuticals for Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses". American Journal of Psychiatry 173 (6): 575–587. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2016.15091228. ISSN 0002-953X. PMID 27113121. 
  9. Morra, Mostafa Ebraheem; Elgebaly, Ahmed; Elmaraezy, Ahmed; Khalil, Adham M.; Altibi, Ahmed M. A.; Vu, Tran Le-Huy; Mostafa, Mostafa Reda; Huy, Nguyen Tien et al. (5 July 2016). "Therapeutic efficacy and safety of Botulinum Toxin A Therapy in Trigeminal Neuralgia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials". The Journal of Headache and Pain 17 (1): 63. doi:10.1186/s10194-016-0651-8. ISSN 1129-2369. PMID 27377706. 
  10. Akyurekli, Celine; Le, Yevgeniya; Richardson, Richard B.; Fergusson, Dean; Tay, Jason; Allan, David S. (5 August 2014). "A Systematic Review of Preclinical Studies on the Therapeutic Potential of Mesenchymal Stromal Cell-Derived Microvesicles". Stem Cell Reviews and Reports 11 (1): 150–160. doi:10.1007/s12015-014-9545-9. ISSN 1550-8943. PMID 25091427. 
  11. Gu, Jenny; Strauss, Clara; Bond, Rod; Cavanagh, Kate (2015). "How do mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction improve mental health and wellbeing? A systematic review and meta-analysis of mediation studies". Clinical Psychology Review 37: 1–12. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2015.01.006. ISSN 0272-7358. PMID 25689576. 
  12. Ginani, Fernanda; Soares, Diego Moura; Barreto, Mardem Portela e Vasconcelos; Barboza, Carlos Augusto Galvão (13 March 2015). "Effect of low-level laser therapy on mesenchymal stem cell proliferation: a systematic review". Lasers in Medical Science 30 (8): 2189–2194. doi:10.1007/s10103-015-1730-9. ISSN 0268-8921. PMID 25764448. 
  13. Fuller, Joel T; Hartland, Michael C; Maloney, Luke T; Davison, Kade (16 March 2018). "Therapeutic effects of aerobic and resistance exercises for cancer survivors: a systematic review of meta-analyses of clinical trials". British Journal of Sports Medicine 52 (20): bjsports–2017–098285. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2017-098285. ISSN 0306-3674. PMID 29549149. 
  14. Lu, Zhihua; Lin, Guiting; Reed-Maldonado, Amanda; Wang, Chunxi; Lee, Yung-Chin; Lue, Tom F. (2017). "Low-intensity Extracorporeal Shock Wave Treatment Improves Erectile Function: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis". European Urology 71 (2): 223–233. doi:10.1016/j.eururo.2016.05.050. ISSN 0302-2838. PMID 27321373. 

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