The colour of medicine

The placebo effect is widely understood to be very real. Essentially it means that a patient’s belief about treatment influences how a treatment works to the extent that pills with no intended pharmacological agent in them can have real biological effects. It is another aspect of the power of the mind. Now new research has shown what we should have realised: how you feel about the medicine that you take impacts how the medicine works for you.

A study published in September’s issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that women with sexual problems who were given a placebo showed measurable improvements in the quality of their sex life. What impact though did the colour of the pills they were given have on the results? According to a new study the effect is significant.

For the new study researchers asked people who used over-the-counter medications about the impact that pill colour had on their choice of medication. The results showed that twice as many middle aged people preferred red tablets to younger adults. It also emerged that women prefer red tablets more strongly than men.

Some of the interesting findings were that fourteen per cent of people thought pink tablets are sweeter than red ones. Yellow tablets are perceived by people as tasting salty. Finally, eleven per cent of people thought white and blue tablets taste bitter and that orange tablets are sour.

It was also felt by 75 per cent of people that the colour of a tablet effects how easy it is to remember to take them with red and pink tablets registering as the preferred colours overall.

Choosing the right colours and shapes for pills can improve compliance, enjoyment, and therefore improve effectiveness. This is a reminder that like most things in life, taking medication is a complete sensory experience and we need to view it in a holistic way. Healing comes when you believe it will happen and that includes believing in all aspects of your medicine.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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