Just the essentials

The World Health Organization’s Essential Medicines List has been around for decades and provides the rest of the world’s health organizations a basis for creating their own cost-effective formularies. Well what use is a list of essential medicines if we don’t know who to treat with them? To that end, the WHO has released the Essential Diagnostics List. It’s designed to diagnose the world’s most common diseases, as well as “priority diseases,” like HIV and malaria. The list currently includes 113 tests, but expect that to grow in the next few years as the WHO gets more feedback. Speaking of essential lists, here’s 33 Essential Life Hacks. Disclaimer: Buzzfeed and the WHO probably have a wildly diverging understanding of what “essential” means.

3. A Placebo a day keeps the back pain at bay

A study published in the journal Pain shows that an “honest” placebo (one given to a patient and fully disclosed) can still influence a patient’s symptoms. The study looked at 83 people who suffered from back pain – half of the group continued their daily routine of painkillers and rest, the other half knowingly added a placebo. When asked to rate difficulty in daily activities, the placebo group noted less difficulty, which translates to less pain. But it’s not just back pain; an earlier study showed a reduction of symptoms occurring in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Sounds like some real “mind over matter” stuff going on here. While interesting, don’t expect a shift toward prescribing placebos anytime soon.