Who says you can’t beat something with nothing?
Heck, “nothing” is getting stronger every day as placebos routinely match or beat some of Big Pharma’s most powerful meds for everything from stomach disorders to chronic pain to depression.
Empty inhalers match drugs for asthmatics
The latest placebo may be even stronger than the rest — and it’s got even more “nothing,” too: It’s literally a container of air, and researchers say it can bring as much relief to asthmatics as a powerful drug.
What’s in that air anyway? I don’t even have asthma and I want a puff!
Researchers recruited 39 asthmatics and had them try four options over 12 weeks: the inhaled drug albuterol, the magic empty inhaler, sham acupuncture, and no treatment at all.
Why acupuncture? Who knows — but for whatever reason, that worked too. In fact, patients reported roughly 50 percent relief as long as they got something — anything at all, didn’t matter what.
The only thing that didn’t help as much was no treatment, which led to improvements of only 21 percent, according to the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The drug did a better job of opening the airways — the patients were able to expel more air when they took it — but since none of them actually noticed the difference, who gives a puff?
As long as they FEEL the same on the empty inhaler, there’s no reason to mess around with a drug or risk the side effects — and this one comes with a few doozies: nausea, headaches, tremors, anxiety, sleeplessness and more.
In some cases, it’s been known to cause a racing or “pounding” heartbeat, dizziness and — ironically, for an asthma med — breathing problems.
I’ll take an empty inhaler over that every time.
And speaking of placebos, another new study finds they can even help beat a condition that has Big Pharma stumped: the common cold. Researchers say patients who believed in the herbal remedy Echinacea got rid of the cold quicker regardless of whether they took the actual herb or a placebo.
In fact, the placebo group improved quickest of all.
That said, don’t quit the real deal just yet: Echinacea is a key piece of the immune system puzzle — and I have everything you need to know about how it can help conquer the cold right here.