Ted Kaptchuk

Ted Kaptchuk, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, directs the Program in Placebo Studies, Healing and Therapeutic Encounter. In his TEDMED talk, he upended many assumptions about what really works in the therapeutic encounter, and what doesn't, as revealed in placebo research.

“I’ve always believed there is an important component of medicine that involved suggestion, ritual, and belief.”
— Ted Kaptchuk


Ted Kaptchuk’s multidisciplinary career began with his training as an acupuncturist and herbalist in Macao, China. He then went on to write a classic textbook on Chinese medicine called The Web That Has No Weaver and wrote a BBC documentary series on global healing traditions. Ted was recruited to investigate Asian medicine at Harvard and subsequently trained in rigorous scientific methodology. He has gone on to lead groundbreaking studies across a variety of disciplines—including clinical science, neurobiology, psychology, anthropology, history, bioethics, and philosophy—all focused on placebo effects and the healing encounter. He is a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, where he directs the Program in Placebo Studies and Therapeutic Encounter, hosted at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Intrigued? Here's more...

The active ingredients of placebo effects
Q&A with Ted on the TEDMED Blog

Placebo effects in medicine
Kaptchuk TJ, Miller FG. New England Journal of Medicine. 2015;371:8-9.   

Altered placebo and drug labeling changes the outcome of episodic migraine attacks
Kam-Hansen et al. Science Trans Med. 2014; 6: 218ra5.  

Placebos without deception: a randomized controlled trial in irritable bowel syndrome
Kaptchuk TJ, et al. PLoS One. 2010;5:e15591 

Components of the placebo effect:  a randomized controlled trial in irritable bowel syndrome
Kaptchuk TJ, et al. BMJ. 2008;336:998-1003.  

Expectation and dopamine release: mechanism of the placebo effect in Parkinson's disease
de la Fuente-Fernandez R, et al. Science. 2001;293:1165-6.  

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Placebo Investigator