Magic Cures

When I was in first grade, no one would hold my hand when we were supposed to grab hands because both my thumbs were covered in warts.

I cried.

My folks took me to a doctor and the warts on my right thumb, the lesser covered thumb, with only 23 warts, were burnt off.

A week or two later they were back.

We went to another doctor. He recommended several options.

One was to sleep with an oily rag under my pillow. Not doable. We couldn’t ruin linens like that. We didn’t have the money for more.

Another was to rub the warts with a cut potato. You were supposed to say, “Potato, potato, take these warts away.” Then you buried the potato.

Worked a treat. All 67 warts gone and I have never gotten another.

My dad wrote the Old Man of the Hills in Oklahoma for a wart cure when he was young. That worked too.

And at church last Thursday night we were discussing the fact that if you put a bar of soap under the sheets in your bed, you wouldn’t get leg cramps. When I started to get a leg cramp, I went and got a bar of soap out of the bathroom and stuck it between the sheets. (We were at a hotel. I wonder what the maids thought of that.)

So, serendipitously, I saw “The Magic Cure” in The Boston Globe.

You’re not likely to hear about this from your doctor, but fake medical treatment can work amazingly well. For a range of ailments, from pain and nausea to depression and Parkinson’s disease, placebos–whether sugar pills, saline injections, or sham surgery–have often produced results that rival those of standard therapies.

I believe that.