Top 10 Medical Mysteries We Tried to Solve in 2008


Can prayer heal people?

Can we measure the power of prayer?
Can we measure the power of prayer?

­When people say that they'll keep you in their prayers, it's usually because they're worried about you. Perhaps you've been laid off or you're dealing with a rebellious child. Or maybe you're sick.

We know that activities such as praying and meditation can lower a person's blood pressure and heart rate, which is a plus as far as your health is concerned. But can praying for someone else, also known as intercessory prayer, make a difference?

Unfortunately, it's difficult to test something that's faith-based in a scientific way. The studies that have been done have gotten mixed results: Some show a significant difference in the health of people being prayed for, while others actually demonstrate a decline.

But if we can't figure out how exactly to measure the effects of prayer or how to design a foolproof study, why do scientists keep trying? Simple: Because people believe that prayer works. According to one study, 85 percent of people pray when they're dealing with some sort of medical problem.

Can prayer heal people? We're not quite sure. But we're working on it.


Smart Bandages Can Monitor, Treat Chronic Wounds

Smart Bandages Can Monitor, Treat Chronic Wounds

New smart bandages are the wound-healing technology of the future. HowStuffWorks delves into the science.