Your Doctor Is Just Trying to Shut You Up With Those Pills

Jeanne Sager

pillsIf you're one of those people who dutifully grabs a pen and pad as the disembodied voice on the TV instructing you to "ask your doctor if X is right for you," this one's on you: doctors prescribing placebos to their patients are at an all time high. It was only a matter of time before the number of people blindly following the directions of a pharmaceutical advertisement drove the number of doctors just trying to shut their patients up to the point of no return.

Can you blame them? Imagine those child-free folks watched one Pampers commercial and then told you they know how to raise your kids. Wouldn't you lash out?

The official figure from a Northwestern University study is 56 percent of American physicians doling out placebos in clinical practice. But before you go getting your panties in a bunch, pop a pill and take a breath. It turns out this could be some of the best health news you've read all day.

Despite myriad complaints from Americans that doctor visits are getting shorter, and physicians are pushing them out the door, this means your doctors are actually listening to you. In fact, they're doing it because you asked them to. According to the study, most are doing it "after unjustified demand for medication."

They have your best interests at heart while they're doing it. A full 85 percent of the respondents -- all members of the American Academy of Family Physicians -- saw physical and/or psychological benefits to prescribing you the fake drugs, which ranged from honest to goodness antibiotics to inert substances.

Even better, they're right. Placebos can actually help. Yet another study, this one published last month by researchers at Harvard Medical School's Osher Research Center and colleagues from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), found placebos can make you better, even without your doctor faking you out.

So next time your Aunt Sally the hypochondriac tells you she's so sick the doctor put her on medicine to fix it, just smile and nod. She'll be feeling better in no time.

Would you be mad if you found out your doctor prescribed a fake?


Image via Pink Sherbet Photography/Flickr

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