I spent years interpreting clinical trials known as “double-blind” studies. This is where placebo is compared to the active drug. It wasn’t uncommon to see efficacy rates higher in the placebo group, making the trial itself awkward to draw conclusions. Very little was understood at the time in terms of how patients react to what are perceived symptoms compared to actual symptoms, and I suspect the same is the case with the “Nocebo Effect.” The “power of suggestion” can be traced back to Biblical times, and certainly early medicine relied more on belief than actual drug efficacy. If we think of the virility potions like rhino horn still used in China, it’s already been proven it has no benefit whatsoever, yet rhino horn powder is still coveted and used. It costs a lot of money, but faith is strong, and so is gullibility, it seems. The same goes for many herbal remedies like echinacea, which many swear by, but substantial research has been done showing little in the way of efficacy. People feel better taking it, so sales are strong. Perhaps this shows the power of the brain in self-healing, something it’s been doing for thousands of years.

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I did a poor imitation of Don Draper for 40 years before writing my first novel. I'm currently in the final stages of a children's book. Lucky me.

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