A Sugar Pill Can Be Great Medicine

Really. Sugar pills have been shown in many tests to treat a variety of conditions as well as "real" medicine.

Actually, its not the sugar. Its a weird phenomenon called the placebo effect. Essentially, if someone says they're going to give you an aspirin and substitutes a sugar pill, you're likely to feel better anyway.

There are thousands of examples. For instance;

- Doctors successfully eliminated warts by painting them with a brightly colored, inert dye and promising patients the warts would be gone when the color wore off.

- In a study of asthmatics, researchers found that they could produce dilation of the airways by simply telling people they were inhaling a bronchiodilator, even when they weren't.

- Patients suffering pain after wisdom-tooth extraction got just as much relief from a fake application of ultrasound as from a real one, so long as both patient and therapist thought the machine was on.

- Fifty-two percent of colitis patients treated with placebo reported feeling better -- and 50 percent of the inflamed intestines actually looked better when assessed with a sigmoidoscope.

And the placebo can even make you perform better. Well trained runners were told that they were involved in a study to measure the effects of super-oxygenated water on performance. They were really given only tap water but 84 percent actually ran faster under the influence of the non-existent "super water."

Can someone please give me a sugar pill and tell me it's going to make me richer?

PB

1 comment:

hyacinths and biscuits said...

okay, I knew about the placebo effect in most cases, but what I find most interesting is the wart anecdote. I didn't think a placebo would have any effect on something so external as that.