"Placebos are frequently of value"

The treatment of angina pectoris, generally speaking, is unsatisfactory.

Any procedure that relieves mental tension is valuable. Since patients suffer particularly during the winter, I encourage winter vacations in a southern climate.

I insist that obese patients lose weight, and have found small doses of benzedrine, 10 to 20 mg. daily, helpful in curbing the appetite.

I generally forbid smoking. This is a particularly disturbing task for many patients to carry out. In such cases, I suggest that 3 or 4 cigarettes be smoked daily, knowing full well that regardless of what I say or recommend, the patients is going to continue to smoke.

Innumerable drugs, most of which are of questionable value, have been used to prevent attacks of angina pectoris. In fact, placebos are frequently of value.

Testosterone--The male sex hormone has been effective in my experience. Whether it acts as a vasodilator or merely by promoting a sense of well-being is not known.

Alcohol--Alcohol (whiskey, brandy, rum) has been used for many years in the treatment of angina pectoris. I have prescribed it in moderate quantity--an ounce several times a day--and while I have not made alcoholics of any of my patients, I also have not cured any of them with it. Preparations, such as creme de menthe, are of value in relieving "gas" of which so many patients complain.

From Heart Disease Diagnosis and Treatment
Emanuel Goldberger, MD

Comments (1) -

  • Roger

    5/12/2009 8:04:00 PM |

    That guy was way ahead of his time.  Doctors were posing for cigarette ads in the '50s.  And who cared if you had "middle-age spread?"  We've just update his benzedrine Rx with Red Bull and triple lattés.  I'm surprised Nitroglycerine wasn't mentioned; my dad took it for his angina.  The winter vacation in the tropics suggestion could have been all about Vitamin D, without knowing it.

    The Atlantic Monthly had an essay on the placebo effect that I have never forgotten.  You can read it below.