Jane McCredie: Honest placebos

THERE is one treatment for conditions ranging from depression to back pain to irritable bowel syndrome that produces impressive results with minimal side effects. Yet clinicians are often reluctant to prescribe it. Why? Because this particular silver bullet is the placebo effect. Although the mechanisms of placebo remain largely mysterious, the belief that we are receiving a helpful treatment somehow seems to have the ability to make us feel better. And there’s the rub. If we need to believe in it for placebo treatment to work, then surely the clinicians dispensing it would have to practise a certain level of deception. But maybe it’s not that clear cut. Read the full article…