The Chicago Tribune reports that half of the doctors in the United States are prescribing placebos. Placebo as defined by Wikipedia :
Placebo is a substance or procedure a patient accepts as medicine or therapy, but which has no specific therapeutic activity. Any therapeutic effect is thought to be based on the power of suggestion.
Is this alarming at all? Well, some say it may do more good than harm. Placebo harness the mind’s will to heal the body. Their benefits being the patient’s belief and will to be better, healthier. If you’re a little concerned that your doctor maybe doing this without you knowing it, here’s a little hint on how you can reveal your doctor’s method… ask him “Does this prescription directly treat what I have or am suffering from”. If he says “in a way… yes” or “I am confident that it will help you in another way…”, then chances are you’ve been given a placebo. But fear not. Placebos have at times been successful, so you just might be the next in line to get healed.
“Most of the time, I’ll tell patients, ‘You really don’t need an antibiotic.’ But if someone’s really nervous or distressed, I’ll write a prescription, asking them to wait a day or two and then take it if they don’t improve,” said Dr. John Hickner, a professor of family medicine at the University of Chicago.
“I guess I do it because if they think it will help them it may, indeed, have a placebo effect,” said Hickner, who co-wrote a report on Chicago doctors’ use of placebos that appeared this year in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.