Wednesday, December 7, 2011

If someone slipped you valium...

This week's New Yorker contains an article by Michael Specter that I was compelled to read at once. The topic? Placebos. In this fascinating piece, Specter offers important details such as:
In most cases, the larger the pill, the stronger the plecebo effect. Two pills are better than one, and brand-name pills trump generics. Capsules are generally more effective than pills, and injections produce a more pronounced effect than either.
Thomas Jefferson... noted that 'one of the most successful physicians I have ever known has assured me that he used more bread pills, drops of coloured water, and powders of hickory ashes, than of all other medicines put together.'
And, perhaps my favorite, that doctors have found:
...that diazepam--more commonly known as Valium--has no discernible effect on anxiety unless a person knows he is taking it.
To read the article, see The Power of Nothing.