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Study: Relief for Asthma May Not Necessarily Be Due to Drugs

A study shared in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that when it came to relief from asthma symptoms, patients are as likely to feel better after getting drug-based treatments, as they are when receiving placebo or fake acupuncture.

A report from Reuters Health shared that researchers were able to show the importance of caring for patients, as opposed to simply providing drugs.

Ted Kaptchuk of Harvard Medical School, a co-author in the study, shared: “My honest opinion is that a lot of medicine is the doctor-patient relationship… A lot of doctors don’t know that, they think it’s their drugs. Our study demonstrates that the interaction between the two is actually a very strong component of healthcare.”

The results of the study indicated that all 39 patients, who were suffering from mild-to-moderate asthma, indicated that placebos were just as effective as real therapy. The participants were given any of the following: albuterol, phony albuterol, or sham acupuncture, in order to relieve asthma symptoms.

Patients who received albuterol reported 50 percent improvement in symptoms, while those who received phony albuterol reported the same level of improvement as well. Those who received sham acupuncture reported an improvement rate of 65 percent.

The only patients who reported low improvement rates were those who received no treatment at all; these patients were sent home, without therapy, after waiting for several hours. Patients who fell under this group reported 21 percent improvement.

Researchers indicated the following in their study: “Patients could not reliably detect the difference between this robust effect of the active drug and the effects of inhaled placebo and sham acupuncture.”


  1. Pingback: Dummy Medicine, Dummy Doctors, and a Dummy Degree, Part 2.0: Harvard Medical School and the Curious Case of Ted Kaptchuk, OMD | CHI Turbo 1" Ceramic Flat Iron

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