Study after study has rejected the ability of such treatments to cure. But the same studies routinely find that treated patients do wind up feeling better. For example, a randomized, controlled trial of Chinese herbs on women with ovarian cancer found no effective difference between the herbs and a dummy pill — because there was some improvement with both. A double-blind trial of saw-palmetto pills for men with enlarged prostates produced similar results. What gives?
The obvious answer is the placebo effect. We’ve known for decades that when sick people are given a treatment, even if it’s just a sugar pill, their condition often improves.
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