Last month the New York Times ran a story about a clinical study that showed placebos are effective – even when the patient is TOLD that his/her pill is an inert placebo containing no medication whatsoever.
Briefly, patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) were told by a physician that taking a placebo containing no active ingredients had been shown to help with IBS symptoms. Patients who took the clearly-marked placebos reported “significantly” more improvement at 11 days and at 21 days, which was the end of the test.
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On a slightly more serious note. I’ve long believed that it’s the placebo effect that keeps most nutritional supplement companies in business. When a personal friend you know and trust tells you “Hey, I used ABC powder and I had more energy in the gym and all my lifts increased,” you tend to believe him. So you buy the ABC powder and go to the gym with confidence and a sense of excitement about what it might do for you. So you pay attention. You concentrate. You really push and pull for all you’re worth. And what happens? All your weights go up. Then what happens? You build some extra muscle! Then what happens? You go tell a different friend, “Hey, I used ABC powder and I had more energy in the gym and all my lifts increased.”
And so it goes. Until the realities of physics and biology press you up against the wall of overtraining and no pill can get you past that. That’s why it’s almost impossible to find a guy who says, “I’ve been taking ABC powder for years and it still works.” In most cases you can’t even find the crap a few years later. It’s been replaced with some new wonder-placebo.